Fuel it up (KombiKraftwerk Style).
The phase out of fossil fuels has been a drawn out process to say the least. Many aims of governments are to reduce carbon emissions to levels comparable to those of the 1990’s; generally these emission levels are still too high to counteract human induced climate change.
Larger scale cutbacks on fossil fuel consumption are an inevitability that will undermine many economies that are not ready to adapt. Developed economies such as the US, Canada and those of Europe are fundamentally driven by the production of power from cheap sources such as coal and oil.
This foundation has set the precedence for society in these regions and has spawned a dependency on the cheap fuel for economic stability. Renewable energy is an alternative that is too expensive for much of the country to adapt to, and as a result fossil fuels must accommodate the need for power.
In a paper published recently in Nature three scientists from Italy, Germany, and the UK have declared the need for a 100% moratorium on electricity production from fossil fuels to lower carbon amounts in the atmosphere. The reasoning for such a bold conclusion is backed by research accumulated through the KombiKraftwerk project in Germany.
In essence the project investigates the idea of a Combined Power Plant that focuses renewable energy contributions from wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower sources. By centralizing each resource and forecasting weather and electricity demand fluctuations this Combined Power Plant has been proven to decrease electricity prices even during peak demand.
A breakthrough such as this could pave the way to an economically viable switch to renewable sources, and as a result could make fossil fuels unnecessary.
There are many hurdles still to overcome if fossil fuels are to be eliminated from our energy agenda. For developed countries it would take an overturning of entrenched infrastructure, not to mention a considerable lifestyle change for most people. A challenge is posed too for developing countries that will rely on cheap fuel to motivate economic growth and development.
An overall change in the way we view economic growth, energy use, and global cooperation is the beginning to putting research like that of KombiKraftwerk into action.