Why Clean Energy Ideas Must Incorporate Fossil Fuels
The numbers don’t lie—fossil fuels are here to stay for years to come; to ensure our future, we need start forming clean energy ideas around this reality
The good news is our country is committed to researching clean energy ideas, and we’re making a strong shift toward natural-gas generated electricity. The bad news is the rest of the world isn’t necessarily following suit.
Coal—a much more polluting fossil fuel than natural gas—is the world’s fastest growing energy source. And that growth is strongest in economically developing countries. In a recent article on Fosters.com, University of New Hampshire Energy Professor V.K. Mathur points out what should be everyone’s chief concern in the problem—a widespread refusal to accept reality and start investing in technologies to make fossil fuels less polluting.
Fossil Fuels are in our future
Mather cites a recent report on the future of coal from a group of well-known environmental groups. The report revealed 1,500 new coal plants either slated for or under construction around the globe, many of them in the fast growing nations of the Far East. He says, “No matter how you cut it, there will be no progress in the fight against climate change without development of technologies that make fossil fuels less polluting. Reducing carbon emissions globally is going to require some serious research and development. We need cheaper and more reliable solar and wind power, technology for large-scale energy storage, advanced nuclear power and great leaps forward in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) systems.”
CCS Technology: Good but could be better
Traditional CCS tech works by capturing carbon emissions from power plants and then storing the emissions deep underground (not a terribly comfortable solution, but better than releasing the emissions into the air). Unfortunately, while this approach keeps emissions out of the air, it is expensive. The process itself demands significant energy from the power plant it serves. And the process literally treats the captured emissions as a waste product. These drawbacks present significant disincentive for developing nations that might otherwise get on board.
A New CCS Technology
However, in the article, Mathur reports that a New England company, FuelCell Energy, just secured major backing from ExxonMobil to continue developing a new CCS technology that could solve the problems of expense and waste.
In FuelCell’s innovative approach, carbon emissions that would be discarded as waste are instead converted into fuel capable of generating even more power. Their approach also captures as much as 90% of a power plant’s carbon emissions.
A system like this could be the golden ticket to real change as we move into the energy future. Mathur puts it well: “…the goal […] is to come up with a process that is market competitive, which is the key to widespread adoption. It’s going to take innovative technologies like this one to make a real difference in the climate battle. Reducing emissions in the U.S. through expensive government support of renewables or costly regulation is not a replicable model for developing nations. They need low cost, technological solutions to help them cut emissions while meeting surging electricity demand.”
Here’s to progress, innovation and a future of beautiful skies!
While companies like FuelCell Energy continue to look for ways to improve our environment on a global scale, here at Lyall we continue to focus on products that help here at home. Our pre-fabricated meter set assemblies and meter set bypass valves are designed to reduce stray GHG emissions, a major contributor to global warming.
Check out the links below to learn more about our commitment to a clean future: