The pace and practicality of decarbonization

by Heesterman, A. Clean Techn Environ Policy (2016). doi:10.1007/s10098-016-1277-x,
online 26 September 2016


There is a widely believed myth that replacing the use of fossil fuels largely by renewable forms of energy is, with a possible exception of nuclear power, critically dependent on the development of appropriate new technologies. Accordingly, it is held that decarbonizing straight away is particularly difficult and expensive. There was a time when this idea had an element of reality, but this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, belief in this myth is shared by those in positions of influence. This paper serves to document that this presumed reality no longer holds, although the misconception may have been based on fact in the past. Whilst the survey of the available technology offered concentrates on electricity supply, it also documents that manufacture of synthetic fuels via hydrogen obtained by electrolysis of water and CO2 integrates smoothly with electricity grid stabilization as well as reducing the CO2 content of the atmosphere. The likely price and cost development in the energy market is also reviewed. In addition the role of CCS, in practice mainly capture from the air and industrial processes other than power generation is reviewed against the background of the cost effective generation of electricity by harvesting renewable forms of energy.