17 January 2023

Renewable Energy Future

Now and then, it's good to stop and take stock. It seems already clear that in the near term, the best prospects for renewable energy, especially for transportation, is the greatly reduced cost and increased efficiency of solar cells and batteries. Hydrogen fuel cells, which require hydrogen to be produced at huge cost both of Co2+Methane emissions and just plain cost, are not a good solution. Natural gas and coal as "bridges" should be considered at the end of their usefulness already: nowhere in the world should new fossil fuel plants be built, and the cessation of production of fossil fuel burning engines should be a near term goal. Stationary and mobile batteries and solar cells continue to get cheaper and better, so electric ground transportation and solar power production are very promising. Lowered cost and safer nuclear power plants appear to be feasible, and further down the road fusion power plants may prove feasible. It now appears that conversion to carbon neutral energy production in by 2050 to 2060 is going to be feasible, with most of the transportation using battery electric technology. Ocean going ships may be feasible using combination solar/wind/battery with electric propulsion. Air travel is problematic and may require the manufacture of carbon neutral fuel from biomass, but net zero is likely feasible. Artificially manufactured turbojet fuel can be produced, at least in principle, that generates no net CO2. 

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