During her visit to Latvia, the President of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen met with the management of the Riga Technical University (RTU), RTU scientists and students, get acquainted with RTU-created technologies that promote climate neutrality and have been supported by the European Union (EU) funds. Climate neutrality and green technologies are a priority for RTU, as a strategic decision has been made to achieve a very low carbon emission by 2030.
The President of the EC met with Rector of RTU Leonīds Ribickis and Vice-Rector for Research Tālis Juhna, as well as with three teams of scientists. Scientists from the Institute of Environmental Protection and Heating Systems of RTU Faculty of Electrical and Environmental Engineering will present solutions for renewable energy consumption and energy efficiency improvement to Ursula von der Leyen – a prototype of a facade panel that provides solar energy storage in the building during warm weather and heating in cold weather.
RTU Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry (FMSAC) research group presented the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence project launched a year ago, founded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, which promotes the biomaterials industry in the region. Scientists develop and commercialize new biomaterials for bone regeneration, facial, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopaedics and other fields.
Another group of FMSAC scientists presented their own creation – innovative bioreactor, in which it is possible to grow the valuable tropical microalgae spirulina despite the cool Latvian climate. Spirulina is an excellent source of antioxidants and various vitamins, as well as contains all essential amino acids. Researchers have used the support tools of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to develop the idea, creating a start-up company, SpirulinaNord, which has already started commercial activities.
RTU has been actively working since 2015 to mitigate the environmental impact of its activities. Three years ago, the concept of Green Ķīpsala came into force, which aims to implement sustainable resource management at its campus Ķīpsala, raising RTU employees and students awareness of the environmental issues and promoting the creation and use of environmentally friendly technologies.
The Green aspect and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are also included in the RTU Sustainable Development Strategy approved in 2020. RTU decision to aim for CO2 neutrality confirms the understanding that every organization and consumer, even if they do not feel it directly on a daily basis, make their negative contribution to climate change. Therefore, the sooner each organisation and the consumer will become aware of their environmental impact, the more change-oriented we will be.
The President of the EC Ursula von der Leyen visited Latvia in the context of the EU Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, the Next Generation EU initiative and Latvian National Recovery Plan.