Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The technology advances required to eliminate Fossil Fuels as G7 wantsare not on the horizon.

To call, as the G7 has, for a non fossil fuel world by the end of the century is all very well. But it needs technology advances that are not in the pipeline.

Energy use can be conveniently be divided between that which is competitive between primary energy alternatives and that which is not. Electricity generation is a classic example of the former. You can generate electricity from Coal, Oil, Gas, Wind, Solar, Nuclear, Hydro...etc etc. To have all our electricity from renewable and non carbon resources is technically feasible although, of course, some very large investments would be required to make the switch possible in a world in which energy demand is inextricably rising. 

However much of our primary energy consumption is in the "non competitive" category - mainly all the "Oil specific" use in transport. Here it is neither technically feasible to use anything but oil  or there is a hugely negative economic consequence. Aircraft can only fly on oil and there is no alternative (outside Science Fiction!) to this. Shipping is presently 99% oil reliant. Road transport (Cars and trucks and buses etc) not much less. You can use electricity to move cars (etc.) but until there is a technology breakthrough which gives cost and range parity with petrol/diesel it will not happen to any significant extent.


At 8:55 am , Blogger Unknown said...

Yes technology does need to improve however electric cars are coming on nicely and if their batteries are charged using wind/solar/ then that too is an advanced technology. I've seen sail assisted cargo ship concepts that I think are feasible. Aircraft it seems will be fossil fuel powered for a while yet unless we don't mind an extra few hours/days on our journey flying with solar powered blimps. But your point main point about the economics of renewable energy sources is the commonly used reason to not take alternatives seriously. I think this argument is flawed. Just ask BP if deep water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico offers good value? Was Iraq good value? Is the smog around our cities improving the quality of our lives? Yes petrol is cheaper per litre than bottled water at our petrol stations but that's not the true cost....plus decentralised renewable energy harvesting is not so expensive bearing in mind the hidden costs of fossil fuels and offers many other benefits like local jobs in remote areas, plus see the amazing Swansea Tidal Lagoon proposal. The key word I think is decentralised, governments and big business feel threatened by this concept. They should embrace it. Well done Germany, Holland and Denmark for seeing the opportunities of the challenges ahead.


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