The success of a low-carbon future depends on integrated action

The success of a low-carbon future depends on integrated action
Published: 15 September 2019 - 1 p.m.
By: Carla Sertin

According to the International Energy Agency, carbon dioxide emissions on the planet grew in 2018 by 1.7% to 33.1bn tons due to the increased demand for energy resources and extreme weather conditions. An increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration exacerbates the global climate crisis and complicates the realisation of the ambitious goal of a number of states to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Global decarbonisation of the global energy system is a long-term process that affects the main areas of the economy, including energy, transport, industry, agriculture, etc., says Rodney Allam. The first wave of decarbonisation is associated with the development of clean energy technologies and the use of renewable energy sources.

However, the low rate of introduction of renewable energy globally cannot ensure the achievement of global goals for CO2 emissions in the nearest future. According to Allam, the second wave will involve wide-spread deployment of new fossil fuel power generation with near zero CO2 emissions and with wide-spread availability of geological CO2 disposal sites and CO2 collection pipelines. The scientist is convinced that a new life can be given to traditional hydrocarbon-powered power plants by making them environmentally friendly.

His technology, the “Allam cycle”, sees natural gas burned in a combustion chamber with pure oxygen at high pressure, then the resulting CO2 reaction passes through a closed loop through a special turbine and returns back to the process. The system has a high carbon capture rate of almost 100%.

Its additional advantage is the low cost of electricity production, comparable to the cost of electricity generation by other modern gas turbines, which is about 6 cents per kilowatt hour. At the moment, the technology is at a demonstration stage. According to Rodney Allam, its large-scale implementation, will happen no earlier than 2030.

Another way to produce clean energy from fossil fuels is associated with the technology of producing hydrogen from natural gas with 100% capture of CO2 and a thermal efficiency of 90%. The hydrogen obtained in this way can be used to substitute the natural gas used for domestic, commercial and industrial heating applications. It can substitute as a fuel replacing natural gas for existing and new gas turbine combined cycle power generation system. Its major use will be as the fuel for a new generation of fuel cell powered electric drive vehicles including trains.


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