Editors Guesses

On this page I'm making a series of guesses about how we will live well without producing CO2.

 

Stationary power - Electricity generation

First the very easy one. Wind and solar PV (PhotoVoltaics) are already cheaper than new coal. Variety however adds stability so we will have CST (Concentrating Solar Thermal) with molten salt storage, wave, tidal, geothermal power.  Oxy-Burning biomass with CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) will actually reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. The same would apply to biogas.

Nuclear

Nuclear at present is very expensive, dangerous, allows nuclear proliferation, there is not much uranium, and it leaves long term waste. The new gen 4 molten salt reactors that burn uranium 238, thorium or nuclear waste, may be useful in some specialised uses such as ships, or in countries without renewable energy. It will probably be expensive. The mining and processing would need to be electrically powered. It would take 30 years or so to develop and roll out. However, it is too late, we have only 10 years or less. Some mini fusion reactors may be developed.

 

Transport

Rail can easily be run with electricity from clean sources.

Electric vehicles can run on batteries, or fuel cells powered with electro-fuels such as hydrogen or ammonia, or biofuels such as butanol, or sugar. Internal combustion engines, ICE, can run on any of these, except sugar.

Buses can run on capacitors that can be charged quickly at each bus stop.

Buses and rubbish trucks, etc, that are constantly stopping and starting, will have flywheels to conserve energy.

Shipping produces 5% of the world's CO2, and may need to use ammonia or nuclear. At present their fuel is cheap. so it is a problem.

Aircraft produce 2% of our CO2. They need the energy density of oil, so will probably use biofuel produced from algae. Batteries will be sufficient for personal travel, but not for carrying a payload. Ammonia may be used for short flights.

 

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is expensive to make, difficult to transport and use. If these difficulties can be overcome, it will become a useful means of storing and transporting energy.

Industry

Cement produces 5% of our CO2. It can be made from materials that do not release CO2. Some formulations even absorb CO2.

Steel can be made using hydrogen instead of coke, or with methane and pure oxygen with CCS..

Carbonate ores will need to have the CO2 that is driven off, captured and stored (CCS). The resulting oxides will be processed using hydrogen or electrolysis.

Hydrogen will replace methane for industrial heating.

 

Carbon C​apture and Storage - C​CS

CCS will be too expensive for coal fired power stations, but will have it's place in production of steel, hydrogen, burning of biomass, etc.

The most promising method of storage is to combine it with MgSiO3 to form MgCO3. The reaction is exothermic so will not spontaneously reverse.

Reduction of Atmospheric CO2

If the price of carbon is high enough it will be economic to remove CO2 from the atmosphere with ion exchange resins.

 Another way is burning biomass, capturing the CO2, then storing it.

 

Buildings

Buildings will be insulated to save energy. Air conditioning and heating will use solar power, geothermal heat cpacity, and phase change energy storage.

Rooftops will generate electricity which will charge batteries in the home and the car. At night the car battery will run the house as a mini grid. Houses will be able to trade electricity with each other.

 

The Grid

Power sources will be distributed, the  concept of off-peak will be replaced with despatchable power. The grid will become smart, allowing customers and suppliers to adapt to the price of  power. This will work to keep the prices within a narrower range than today.

Some grids will be community owned.

Long transmission lines may connect regions such as East and West Australia, Australia and China, The Sahara - Europe, Scandinavia, etc.

Energy storage will become a business with companies buying cheap electricity and reselling it.

 

Denial

Fossil fuel companies are the biggest in the world and have a lot to lose, and a lot to spend flighting renewable energy. Their denial efforts will continue, as will their hold on governments.