Theodore "Ted" Venners 温立斯

Peace and Prosperity of China and US

Tag: Climate Change

The Future of Renewable Energy with Bill Gates reported by the CHINA-US Club

Renewable Energy has been in a constant state of development as Climate Change has become the forefront of international policies.

It is predicted that in the next two decades the worldwide energy consumption will increase by 50% compared to 2010. In 2015 alone, the global CO2 emission reached 36 billion tonnes, a steep 42% increase from the year 1990. The goal is to reduce it by 80% from what was emitted in the year 1990. Unfortunately, there has been an increase of energy demand challenging the growing desire to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

With 1.3 billion people – which equals 18% of the world population – living without electricity, the demand of energy is justified. 70% of Sub Saharan Africa and 300 million people in India are deprived of electricity which can meet their basic demands of storing food, providing light and heat, and facilitate work and education.

The only viable balance to this increasing rift is the propagation of Renewable Energy, which is clean energy. But, Renewable Energy without sustainable models is expensive, and it needs to be cheap, easily accessible and reliable to attract investment.

In 2014, China was the highest emitter of CO2 at 27%, followed by the United States at 15.5%, with the European Union and India amounting to 9.5% and 7.2%. The Paris Summit set goals in the right direction, with the United States proposing to reduce carbon emissions to 28% by 2025, with the yardstick being the year 2005. Two hundred countries signed to reduce emissions, with developed industrialised nations ready to invest in renewable technology, with a total of 100 billion euros per year to low income economies to build them up as robust economies, furthering an effort to propagate renewable energy unilaterally.
Throughout his career, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been more than just a software visionary. From bettering lives to creating jobs, from his philanthropic endeavours to environmental conservation, the Tech Guru has made substantial contributions to the world.

In a podcast interview with Stuff You Should Know, Bill Gates discussed the future of Renewable Energy, its obstacles and its pathways:

“When we think about energy, one of the key things is reliability. If you just have energy when the wind blows or in sunshine that’s not very helpful. When someone is freezing in their apartment on a winter night, they need energy. If you’re going to build a factory to say, build a car, because that’ll be a huge capital cost, it needs to run 24 hours a day, so it’s got to have reliable energy. And so, the market isn’t just for energy, the market is for totally reliable energy. Unfortunately, a lot of breakthroughs we have, like the wind and sun, we don’t have those directly generate electricity.

And storing electricity is very, very hard. All the batteries in the world today would not store, uh, every laptop, every car, everything, would not store hours worth of global energy. And batteries haven’t improved much in the last 100 years. They’re less than 3 times better than the battery that Edison, if he were revived, would recognise, which was a lead chemistry battery. Really, the lithium-ion has given us an improvement, but in order to truly work from the grid, you need a factor of 10. Anyway, it is very tough to make that work. We need to pursue breakthrough paths that don’t assume storage miracle, like if you take the sun directly and make liquid fuel, just say gasoline, or any hydro carbon, or any liquid, that’s easy to store. You put it in a tank, you put it in a pipe and the whole infrastructure is geared toward liquid transport. If you could possibly do that, it would be an advantage.

High wind sounds like a crazy idea, the solar fuel, what you’re calling synthetic photosynthesis, if it doesn’t work, people will say it is silly, well of course, but that’s brilliant. When nuclear energy came along, there was a quote from the head of the atomic energy commission, that the electricity would be too cheap to meter, now unfortunately he underestimated the complexities of radiation containment, and all other safety things, which in my view means that we need a whole new generation of reactors, whose safety characteristics are dramatically better and different than what we make today is called third generation. We need this fourth generation. We need to go down a dozen different paths, and even one that is still worth exploring is carbon capture and sequestration, with a little bit of extra chemistry, you take that fuel gas, which is about 12% co2, and you convert it to liquids and then you of course have to find a long-term storage.

If we can do the invention, if we can fund the R&D and maybe even pursue pilot plans to get the economies upscale with learning curve benefits and then if we could offer to them a form of electrification that is non-polluting, then you get the best of both worlds, if you can’t, then they have a dilemma.”

Bill Gates urges for the same goals as the World Energy Council, as in the collective economic development of the world in order to invest, innovate, sustain and propagate Renewable Energy throughout the planet.

Climate Action Project reported by China-US club

Susan Joy Hassol submitted a series of Questions and Answers – Emissions Reductions Needed to Stabilize Climate – for Presidential Climate Action Project where she answers some of the key questions surrounding the climate change.

Temperature Threshold for Global Warming
On the question about what should be threshold of global temperature so that the global warming effects doesn’t turn adverse, Susan said the current temperature is already very high and unusual. In fact, several analysts claim that we have already crossed the dangerous territory and that immediate steps should be taken to avoid catastrophic consequence. Most climate change experts, the European Union have come to a conclusion that in order to severe damages, the temperature should be kept under 2°C/3.5°F compared to the pre-industrial levels.

Even if the temperature is mentioned between the above levels, there is no guarantee it would avoid severe impact, however if it increases beyond this point, that is when a real problem may arise and the damage may become irreversible. Few experts even suggested that the principal criteria for defining “dangerous” must also have sea level rise and extinction of species, highlighting the risk if the temperature doesn’t stabilize within the said limit.

Limits on Atmospheric Concentrations of CO2 and CO2e to Maintain That Temperature
Several analysts and climate measurement models have suggested the CO2 and CO2e must peak below 400 to 450 ppm. However, it is said that there is no single precise number since the sensitivity of the climate system to greenhouse gases is yet to be known accurately. Different models offer some or the other difference in the levels, but within this range. Also, the current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and CO2e (Carbon dioxide equivalent) is said to be around 382 ppm, which is increasing by around 2 ppm per year. While global warming experts suggest that 450 ppm is a reasonable target to try and keep the climate change under control, it isn’t really precise point below which are in the safe zone and above which we are in red zone. They argue that, the lower the level, the better; the higher it gets, the more dangerous threats it carries.

Relationship Between CO2 and CO2e
The CO2 and CO2e have quite a complicated relationship. Both the gases are expected to shift at varied rates because the concentration of each gas shift at its own rate based on the emissions; hence there’s no constant method to convert CO2 to CO2e or vice versa. The cooling effects of the sulfate aerosols and cooling influences is cancelled because both CO2 and CO2e are approximately same because the warming effects of both these gases and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases are also approximately same.

One of the reasons for this is – different systems measure CO2e differently.

How Fast Should The Emissions to Meet the Temperature Target of 450 ppm.
If the CO2 concentrations are to be stabilized at about 450 ppm by 2050, then worldwide emissions need to be reduced by almost 60-70%. Industrial emission must be reduced by almost 80% by 2050. A study by Duke University’s Nicholas School suggested an idea – to reach that target each of the G8 countries should combinely reduce emissions by 2% every year beginning in 2011 for the next 40 years resulting in 80% reduction. Along with this, the other five developing countries including China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Mexico could begin a similar program ten years later agreeing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2% a year beginning in 2021.

The Cost of Such Initiatives

According to some reports, this program would cost a combined GDP of almost 3% of the world by 2030. In other words, this would result in annual GDP reduction by 0.12%. To explain this with an example, the US economy that currently grows at 3.20% will grow at 3.08. So economically, it wouldn’t cost a huge to the world.

The Stern review in fact concludes that:

The benefits are strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs.

Key References
IPCC (2007). The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press.

The Stern Review on the Economic of Climate Change (2006). Cambridge University Press.

Meinshausen, M. (2006). What does a 2°C target mean for greenhouse gas concentrations? A brief analysis based on multi-gas emission pathways and several climate sensitivity uncertainty estimates. In Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, J. S. Schellnhuber, W. Cramer, N. Nakicenovic, T. M. L. Wigley and G. Yohe. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Kasibhatla and Chamedies (2007). G8 Leadership is Critical to Curbing Energy-Related CO2 Emissions. Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University.

Carbon Capture is Essential but Not Inevitable reported by the CHINA-US Club

Carbon Capture and Storage is a quintessential process and a safeguard against the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus preventing further harm to the environment, and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that are responsible for Climate Change.

President-Elect Donald Trump has promised a revival of the coal industry. With his official inauguration near, the big question surrounding the energy policy is how will the new administration accommodate the pros and cons of such a decision, and if it will focus on Carbon Capture as an active and reliable deterrent of carbon emissions.

According to Jeff Erikson, the General Manager of the Global Carbon Capture & Storage Institute, the role of his industry in the new administration is promising:

“Candidate Trump made a lot of promises with respect to bringing back the coal industry. I think carbon capture as a technology that addresses emissions from coal can only contribute to that. But in addition to applications for coal, there’s a really significant opportunity in industrial applications, and I think those industrial applications also support a lot of Mr. Trump’s priorities as well. So, applications on things like iron and steel plants, cement plants, hydrogen processing plants and the economics for carbon capture on those facilities are actually pretty — are much better than they are on coal-fired power plants. So yes, I think that Mr. Trump’s emphasis on coal will encourage more carbon capture and support the coal industry, but that’s not the end of the story. I think there’s plenty more to like about carbon capture even beyond coal.”

Mr. Erikson elaborates upon the role of Carbon Capture, describing it as essential for reducing environmental degradation and regulating climate change, yet not inevitable for a number of reasons:

“[Carbon Capture is] certainly essential in order for the world to meet its aspirations on climate change and to keep climate change below dangerous levels, and that was — I’ve been using that term for a while, and that was the context in which I first started talking about it being essential. But I also think carbon capture is essential for other reasons that aren’t related to climate change. There is a significant need for CO2 that the oil industry can use to actually enhance oil recovery. And so in order for us to utilize our domestic resources, I think there’s an essentiality there as well. It’s not inevitable because it doesn’t have the broad base of support that other low-carbon technologies use, such as wind and solar, and the economics are challenging on a per-project basis as well.”

He emphasises on the importance of support from both the political and public spheres, if Carbon Capture is to become the unavoidable solution for carbon emissions:

“There’s a lot of work to be done to garner that political and public support. There’s work to be done on reducing the cost. So we can’t all go home happy and say it’s going to happen. I think there’s a lot of folks that need to continue to push all aspects of getting carbon capture to become more common and more cost-effective.”

It remains to be seen just how much of an importance the CCS holds in the agendas of the Trump administration, and if it can lobby to convince the President-Elect in ushering climate conservation policies.

Energy and Climate so interconnected… Reported by the CHINA-US Club

President-Elect Donald Trump has stirred a pandemonium in the World Energy Council by suggesting a withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement.  With the interconnection shared by energy and climate, such drastic measures, even merely in the form of a plan on paper without concrete action, can be a cause for concern on the international front.

The United States ability to generate energy can be directly affected by the changes in sea level, temperature and the frequency of occurrences of climate-based unrest. But, at the same time, the manner and extent of energy consumption contributes to climate change, with greenhouse gas emissions due to the use of fossil fuels accounting for 84% in the United States.

And though the President-elect Trump has softened his stance and has been open to review and suggestions, a possible backing out can have adverse effects, invoking apprehension from other members of the World Energy Council, particularly the Europeans, as explained to E&E News by Barry Worthington, Executive Director of the United States Energy Association:

“Particularly Europeans because they’re more concerned over climate issues than people from other continents, they would be very surprised because, again, they don’t understand as clearly as we do the notion that you have one administration that can do one thing, Congress can do something else, the next administration, the next Congress can do something completely — completely different.”

Mr. Worthington added that if the U.S. does pullback from the Paris Agreement, the Europeans will deem it to be a decision of the United States as a government, and not a decision from the current administration:

“I will say they see the Paris Agreement as a commitment of the United States. They don’t see the Paris Agreement as a commitment of the Obama administration. And again, it’s just their nature of looking at our set of governance versus what they’re familiar with. So, if there’s a pullback, they would be very disappointed because, again, they would see it as a lack of commitment on the United States of America, not a lack of commitment from one administration versus the other.”

The outcome of such an unfulfillment and annulment of the Paris Agreement will not bode well for the United States, on both the Environmental and Energy fronts, and might raise genuine concerns for the furthering of Climate Protection efforts undertaken collectively by the World Energy Council, given the United States quintessential role in the world theatre of Climate Change.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén