The energy of the new technological cycle requires large-scale investments and decisive political action
Currently existing technologies for clean power requiring carbon capture and storage increase the cost of electricity by about 60%. New low-cost power systems based on oxy-fuel supercritical CO₂ will be commercially available in the mid-2020s. The so-called “Allam cycle” provides an opportunity not only to produce energy without harmful atmospheric emissions, but also has the additional advantage of low cost for electricity generation (6 cents per kilowatt).Sergey Alekseenko, the 2018 Global Energy Prize laureate, Head of the heat and mass transfer laboratory of the Institute for Thermophysics of the RAS Siberian Branch, underlined the importance of the development of environmentally friendly and efficient technologies to process fossil fuels. In particular, combined-cycle plants and advanced coal processing are the most important steps towards the decarbonization of energy. Although fossil fuels will remain a priority energy source for resource-rich countries Alekseenko stated the world energy mix will radically change due to the development of renewable energy sources (RES), which will start to dominate the global energy balance after 2050. Geothermal energy, and more specifically –petrothermal systems– ( based on hot dry rocks found from 3 to 10 km beneath the surface with temperatures up to 350°C) are the most promising procedures of generating alternative energy, Alekseenko highlighted. In contrast to the variability of sun and wind energy, “Petrothermal energy is on-demand and does not require any energy storage solutions. However, solar and wind energy will likely remain the predominant part of the global energy mix in the future. Therefore the development of renewable energy sources must be accompanied by the creation of efficient energy storage systems,” the scientist mentioned. Further elaborating on the imperative transition to renewable energy sources, Xiansheng Sun, Member of the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee and Secretary General of the International Energy Forum, stated that countries are trying to find an even balance between economic development and the solution of a variety of environmental issues. However, natural disasters caused by climate change are drivers that redirect counties’ development strategies. In pursuit of viable, sustainable energy markets, both corporations and developed countries are turning to new technologies, such as carbon capture, storage and utilization systems, big data analytics, automation, robotics, electric cars and smart grids.
Participants of the Summit concluded that the main challenge for the development of energy in the new technological cycle lies in the hands of political decision makers. While the leading scientists in the field are confident that efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable technologies are available to provide holistic solutions that were previously impossible, politicians are called upon to take the necessary hard decisions today.