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Contrary to what you may believe, far from reducing our future dependence on fossil fuels over the nest 30 years we will in fact increase our demand.

The following link by Loren Cobb from the Quaker Economist titled  “The History and Future of World Energy”, provides what I regard as one of the best graphical overviews I have seen on past present and future power generation and where it will come from. It excludes any notion of nuclear fusion but this is understandable given that it is not yet feasible! On page two of the article there is a graphical interface where you can alter the parameters changing some of the assumptions for yourself to get a different picture of the future.

world power generation graph coal oil gas solar wind nuclear biomass

One of the clear observations is that far from reducing our future dependence on fossil fuels over the next 30 years we will in fact increase our demand. There are also sufficient reserves to continue to do this and there is a good profit for the mining companies to continue to supply this raw material to the power industry. The conclusion of the article by Loren Cobb and another one on this site is that with an increasing population and worldwide technological capability there will be an increased demand for energy over the next 30 years. And much of this will be provided by burning fossil fuels. So far from reducing carbon emissions we as a planet will be increasing them. This is inevitable.

As an alternative suggestion to reducing energy consumption and “green power generation technology” why don’t the policy makers in the world get behind carbon capture technology and pull out CO2 from the flue gasses of the power stations? Apparently 80 to 90% could be removed (wikipedia).; The main reason is probably economic since the cost of power generation would increase.

US and Chinese policy makers could force so much change here, and we are all rather at the mercy of it.

Comments and Questions

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CCS - Richard  2009-04-23 18:19:48
I agree with comment by speckl in principle, but you can just bet that they will rely on carbon sources because they are the cheapest, so if as the graphs indicate it is going to happen, and history also suggests it will happen then we have to capture the carbon. But you are right it is not the best way forward.
CCS - speckl  2009-04-23 16:48:26
I suppose my concern with Carbon Capture and Storage is when it is considered as a viable alternative to the more fundamental aim of reducing overall reliance on carbon-heavy energy sources. It had become an increasingly strong argument that CCS will have to play a role if we are to avoid large levels of additional CO2 from coal-burning industries in emerging economies. However, it is when it is treated as a preferred option to improved energy efficiency and increased investment in renewable technologies in countries such as the UK that I begin to part company with hardcore CCS supporters.