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The Global Energy Prize annually honors outstanding achievements in energy research and technology from around the world that are helping address the world’s various and pressing energy challenges.

CO2 levels must be cut despite consumption growth

June 1, 2017


Global Energy Prize chief calls for 10% drop by 2100

Smokes billow out of chimneys at a chemical plant in north China’s Tianjin municipality, December 23, 2008 (reissued 31 May 2017). By 2100, CO2 emissions from power, domestic and commercial space heating, industrial production, and transportation should be reduced to 10% of current level, a new study presented at the St Petersburg Economic Forum finds.

By 2100, CO2 emissions from power, domestic and commercial space heating, industrial production, and transportation should be reduced to 10% of current level, British chemical engineer Rodney John Allam, chair of the Global Energy Prize committee, said in exclusive material for New Europe from the 21st annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). The Global Energy Association has conducted a study among the winners of the Global Energy Prize, the members of the International Prize Award Committee and other experts in the field of global energy, on the prospects and directions for the development of the global fuel and energy balance in short -, medium- and long-term prospects. The International Energy Prize Global Energy annually celebrates the outstanding scientific researches and achievements in the field of energy. Every year, the winners receive an award from the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg. The monetary part of the award is 39 million rubles.

Ongoing from 2050 we must continue with this strategy so that by 2100 we have reduced CO2 emissions from power, domestic and commercial space heating, industrial production, and transportation to say 10% of current level even with the projected increase in population with greater standards of living,” Allam said. “One very important area which has not been dealt with in this survey is the whole field of energy efficiency. This covers all the ways we use energy. We must implement efficiency improvements on a large scale,” Allam said. “The way in which total energy consumption and CO2 emission is rising indicates that energy efficiency improvements which reduce energy consumption are being greatly exceeded by population growth and the enormous increase in standards of living and hence consumption of resources of the underdeveloped parts of the world,” the British engineer added.

German power engineering scientist and Global Energy Prize laureate Klaus Riedle noted that energy would remain a key ingredient for global growth and the wellbeing of mankind. “A growing share of renewables and large improvements in energy efficiency will help to preserve a balance of demand and supply. Fossil energy will remain a significant contributor if people will not realize their role in climate change,” Riedle said, adding that, conversely, nuclear fission and fusion would take on a stronger role if climate change turns out to be a problem. “Due to the outstanding importance of energy, significant funds should be spent on R&D worldwide and the results should be made available to all countries via applicable worldwide agreements,” said the German scientist, who has headed the Siemens scientific developments department for high-temperature turbines.

Meanwhile, William Byun, the Principal managing the Conchubar Group’s $100 million PE fund in Asia, focused on industrial policy related infrastructure, said unmet demand would significantly exceed supply. “In practice, price will increase adjust (and increased gaps, shortages, ‘black and brownouts’ too). Energy demand will always outstrip supply – the more there is available, the more uses will originate. Generally, the position of fossil fuels will be static economically – so the real question and challenge is in the speed and movement of price decreases in other alternative sources. Fission nuclear has an extremely high social resistance factor,” Byun said. “It is not a matter of ‘logic’ anymore, so any return would not be prefaced on “logical” arguments; highly unlikely unless other sectors have catastrophic falls. In terms of more ‘practical’ and empirical research, it would be in continued refinement of solar, geothermal, hydro, etc., where significant room for measurable improvements within existing scientific knowledge, is clear. In terms of a more ‘fundamental’ or foundational science R&D, deep-change sectors such as for fusion (possibly LENR), bio-energies including at the genetic level, and space-based harvest and transport of energies, would be the most promising – long-term. Business takes a practical 2~7 year outlook at most,” he said, adding that within such a short realisable timeframe, it would be more incremental sectors such as for increased deployment of existing technologies such as refinements in solar, scaled bioenergies (existing technologies), wind, geothermal. “In terms of non-science promising sectors, it would be in being to capture and utilize “stranded natural gas” (i.e., smaller separated natural gas fields) for which there is not a good transport option currently. The momentum is present now in terms of science, society, government, and business so actually, the speed of uptake will naturally increase on its own,” Byun said.

Finally, American Steven Griffiths, the Vice President for Research at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, noted that in 90 years – technologies and modes of living not yet imagined today have transformed societies and the way energy is perceived. “The power sector is dominated by renewable forms of energy with perhaps nuclear fusion playing a major role. The transportation sector uses electric propulsion for all forms of transport and all transport is autonomous,” Griffiths said, adding that 3D printing and digitalisation have reshaped industries such that almost all products are customised and little longdistance shipping of goods happens any longer. “Shipping that does happen is via autonomous systems and supply chains optimised by the internet-of-things and connected societies,” he said.

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