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Saturday, September 4, 2021
What future holds for energy and climate?
Energy industry is at a crossroad. It must now find a new direction to address the climate issue while to continue to supply energy to the world. The options are very clear. It can find new ways and means to genuinely address some of the mistakes of the past by inventing new methods to address the problem irrespective of the cost involved because time is not in our favour. Alternatively, one can redirect the issue using new terminologies and jargons and temporarily buy some time till finding an alternative and lasting solution to the problem. The first option will take time and cost more, and the second option may not take time and cost less. It seems most of the companies are choosing the second alternative. But how? Renewable energy is defined as “a source of energy that is available from the nature that can be constantly replenished”. This will guarantee the sustainability. But we are used to Carbon based fuels and technologies and therefore we also need a renewable Carbon that can substitute fossil fuels so that existing technologies for power and transportation can be used. Biomass is also derived from plants and animals like fossil fuels, but it is different in terms of time scale, and it can be replenished quickly unlike fossil fuels. It is basically made up of Carbon, Hydrogen and additionally oxygen, like fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas but free from sulphur. Therefore, one can use the same technology such as combustion, gasification and pyrolysis etc and convert a biomass into energy, chemicals and fuels while claiming them as “renewables”. It will require oxy-combustion and gasification methods and unfortunately usage of pure Oxygen will be inevitable.Therefore, both Carbon as well as Hydrogen derived from biomass becomes “Green” and “renewable”. In addition "Green Hydrogen" using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by water electrolysis will help decarbonisation by capturing and converting CO2 emissions into a Syngas. It requires a steep fall in the cost of renewable electricity to less than $20/Mwh and Carbon emission to be taxed at least @ $250/Mt to discourage fossil industry. Once we establish green and renewable Carbon and Hydrogen then it is only a matter of generating a syngas, combination of Hydrogen and Carbon monoxide with various ratios to synthesis various chemicals including bio crude oil that leads to refineries to produce petrol, diesel and aviation fuels. We will be back into the game but with different brand called “Green and renewable”; it is "an old wine in a new bottle" Everybody is happy and politicians can now heave a sigh of relief and feel comfortable. One can also use “blue hydrogen’ as a mix to green hydrogen and synthesis various downstream chemicals such as Ammonia, urea etc. Thus they can use them to decarbonise the fossil economy. In either way there is still an issue of CARBON EMISSION that needs to be addressed. They may claim biofuel as Carbon neutral, but it will not stop the increasing concentration of GHG into the atmosphere or climate change. Therefore Carbon tax will be inevitable. Bioenergy and renewable energy may increase the sustainability but will not address the issue of global warming and climate change. Nature does not discriminate between ‘bio-carbon’ and ‘fossil carbon’. Only “Carbon Recycling Technology” can address the problem of global warming and climate change. The simplest method will be to to collect CO2 emission from all petrol and diesel engines in a liquid form using a retrofittable device in the vehicle and convert them in a centralised facility to Syngas using renewable Hydrogen .The syngas can be converted into renewable crude using F-T reaction hat can be processed in a refinery for recycling into petrol, diesel and aviation fuel so that we can eliminate technologies such as large batteries and Fuel cells. By this way we can ensure the CO2 level in the atmosphere is stabilised and existing infrastructures are utilised. The availability of biomass for a radical change will be an issue especially in Asia where growing population requires more land for agriculture and deforestation is a common problem. Perhaps we need completely a new electricity generation technology that can "drive electrons to flow in a super conductor" and a magnetic storage using a cryogenic fluid. Unfortunately not many researchers are working in this direction.