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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Renewable and Alternative Energy Sources Ranked_Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, energy security_Information Overload Mastered

This post follows the previous one, "a short definition of Sustainable Development (SusDev.) with good reference links for more background reading but first please read on.

The Sustainability "Science and Engineering" theme with it's highly complex ramifications have undoubtedly lead to information overload, much confusion and therefore, in all probability, inadequate and ineffective responses to the many, inter-related challenges raised. (exponentially increasing resource waste?)

Here I wish to present, what I feel could become, one of the most important theoretical approaches to alleviate current misunderstandings in what is emerging as mankind's most important challenge(s), namely: climate-change: specifically energy - related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security. [It compliments and clarifies the earlier Pacala and Socolow Wedge Approach widely commented].

Mark Z. Jacobson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA , in this "Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security" is a substantial, much needed, contribution to alleviate this situation.

The study deserves equally wide echo, comment and debate to reap the sustainability benefits owed to future generations, through present and future co-operation, co-ordination, leadership to attain anticipatory action-investment(s).

Mark justifies his work as follows:
"Air pollution and global warming are two of the greatest threats to human and animal health and political stability. Energy insecurity and rising prices of conventional energy sources are also major threats to economic and political stability. Many alternatives to conventional energy sources have been proposed, but analyses of such options have been limited in breadth and depth. The purpose of this paper is to review several major proposed solutions to these problems with respect to multiple externalities of each option. With such information, policy makers can make better decisions about supporting various options. Otherwise, market forces alone will drive decisions that may result in little benefit to climate, air pollution, or energy–security problems."

His approach is one of weighting and ranking renewable and alternative energy sources and resources.

The published summary "Broader Context" can hardly be improved upon and is reproduce as is.
"His paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering impacts of the solutions on water supply, land use, wildlife, resource availability, reliability, thermal pollution, water pollution, nuclear proliferation, and undernutrition. To place electricity and liquid fuel options on an equal footing, twelve combinations of energy sources and vehicle type were considered. The overall rankings of the combinations (from highest to lowest) were (1) wind-powered battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), (2) wind-powered hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, (3) concentrated-solar-powered-BEVs, (4) geothermal-powered-BEVs, (5) tidal-powered-BEVs, (6) solar-photovoltaic-powered-BEVs, (7) wave-powered-BEVs, (8) hydroelectric-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) nuclear-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) coal-with-carbon-capture-powered-BEVs, (11) corn-E85 vehicles, and (12) cellulosic-E85 vehicles. The relative ranking of each electricity option for powering vehicles also applies to the electricity source providing general electricity. Because sufficient clean natural resources (e.g., wind, sunlight, hot water, ocean energy, etc.) exist to power the world for the foreseeable future, the results suggest that the diversion to less-efficient (nuclear, coal with carbon capture) or non-efficient (corn- and cellulosic E85) options represents an opportunity cost that will delay solutions to global warming and air pollution mortality. The sound implementation of the recommended options requires identifying good locations of energy resources, updating the transmission system, and mass-producing the clean energy and vehicle technologies, thus cooperation at multiple levels of government and industry.
NB. "[Costs are not examined since policy decisions should be based on the ability of a technology to address a problem rather than costs (e.g., the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 prohibit the use of cost as a basis for determining regulations required to meet air pollution standards) and because costs of new technologies will change over time, particularly as they are used on a large scale. Similarly, costs of existing fossil fuels are generally increasing, making it difficult to estimate the competitiveness of new technologies in the short or long term. Thus, a major purpose of this paper is to provide quantitative information to policy makers about the most effective solutions to the problem discussed so that better decisions about providing incentives can be made." ] _so there is much work to be done (TBD) by stake holders, companies, specialists, professional involved. It is perhaps also an excellant place to start for the relative newcommer?

The resultant overview is thorough:
1. Overview introduction, 2. Description of technologies, 3. Available resources, 4. Effects on climate-relevant emissions, 5. Effects on air pollution emissions and mortality, 6. Land and ocean use, 7. Water supply, 8. Effects on wildlife and the environment, 9. Energy supply disruption, 10.Supply Intermittency and how to address it 11. Overall results, 12. Example large-scale application.
NB.
"Costs are not examined since policy decisions should be based on the ability of a technology to address a problem rather than costs (e.g., the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 prohibit the use of cost as a basis for determining regulations required to meet air pollution standards) and because costs of new technologies will change over time, particularly as they are used on a large scale.

Similarly, costs of existing fossil fuels are generally increasing, making it difficult to estimate the competitiveness of new technologies in the short or long term.

Thus, a major purpose of this paper is to provide quantitative information to policy makers about the most effective solutions to the problem discussed so that better decisions about providing incentives can be made."...

It is a highly useful contribution to information overload and a must read for all Materials Scientists, Chemists, Technologists and Engineers; Experts, Stakeholders, Gov-Admin, NGO's and Consultants of whatever calling. There remains much to do done (TBD) by all concerned - Discuss


Source and Acknowledgement:
Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 148-173, DOI: 10.1039/b809990c – Reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry

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