Monday, May 3, 2010

Is it possible to completely eliminate CO2 emissions in the next few decades?

A new climate change deal that recently so miserably failed was all about reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (most notably CO2 emissions) in order to stop a further strengthening of the climate change impact. Can world really reduce the amount of carbon emissions in years to come? Well some scientists are even convinced that we can not only significantly reduce the amount of carbon emissions but also to eliminate these emissions completely. Sounds too optimistic for you? Well, you're not the only one.

The scientists from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Columbia University Earth Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and 2030 Inc./Architecture 2030 have said that the global climate change problem becomes solvable only if society deals quickly with carbon emissions from burning coal in electric power plants.

These scientists are also convinced that the United States could completely eliminate carbon emissions from coal-fired electric power plants within 20 years by using technology that already exists or could be commercially available within a decade.

Their strategies in achieving this include elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, putting higher prices on carbon emissions; major improvements in electricity transmission and the energy efficiency of homes, commercial buildings, and appliances; replacing coal power with biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, and third-generation nuclear power; and after successful demonstration at commercial scales, deployment of advanced (fourth-generation) nuclear power plants; and carbon capture and storage at remaining coal plants.

These strategies definitely sound good on paper but I would like to see them in real life. Are people ready to pay extra high energy prices, are renewable energy sources capable to replace coal in the next few decades? I believe the answer to both of these above questions is no, and therefore I do not see how we could transform this strategy into a real life.

Don't get me wrong, I would gladly pay higher energy prices, and would be more than happy if renewable energy technologies could mature enough in the next few decades to become cost-competitive with fossil fuels but I just don't see this coming.

Renewable energy can be considered only as some form of long-term solution to climate change problem. Many would say how come long-term solution since many energy experts predict dominance of renewable energy even before the end of this century so we are only talking about 50 years or so? 50 years or so is sadly very long lifespan given the current pace of climate change, and if current climate change predictions are true we don't have luxury of the next 50 years at our disposal to make things happen.

Therefore our only chance is some breakthrough science discovery that would somehow turn fossil fuels into clean energy sources, or that would somehow enable us an extremely rapid development of certain renewable energy source(s). I seriously doubt that anything else can really help us against climate change. In real life, that is.

1 comment:

  1. Our planet is our home... Save your home...