Principles of sustainability and physics as a basis for the low-carbon energy transition
Issue: Vol 23, No 3, August 2017 pp. 287 - 297
Special Topic: Geological storage of CO2, gas and energy
Info: Article, PDF ( 824.2Kb )
Human society needs to achieve a low-carbon energy mix this century. To achieve this, we need: (a) an appreciation of the value of Earth’s atmosphere; and (b) a sustainable approach for low-carbon energy. For sustainable developments, three pillars need to work together: the environment, social equity and economics. To address the societal aspects of the low-carbon energy transition, we need to appreciate that our future depends on protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. By reviewing the discovery of the greenhouse gas effect over the last 200 years, we establish the essential motivation for changing human behaviour with regard to energy use. From this basis,we consider the challenge of howto achieve this energy transition or, more specifically, how to overcome the dissonances related to societal acceptance, economic hurdles and lack of progress with deployment of low-carbon energy options. The last decade has seen a significant growth in the renewable energy and natural gas sectors: however, CCS has made limited progress. This has to change if the human population is to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In order to accelerate reductions in global CO2 emissions, all low-carbon energy options must be deployed at an increasing rate in the coming decades.