The California Science and Technology Council (CCST), a non-official group of academic and government officials, recently issued a thorough analysis of the energy landscape accessible to the state, “California’s Energy Future: The View to 2050” (Summary Report, May 2011). Its objective was to assess the nature and extent of measures needed that might be used to achieve the objectives of S-3-05. This post summarizes the Summary Report.
Deployed and available at scale now
Demonstrated, but not available at scale or not economical now
In development, not yet available
1. The building stock in the state should be “aggressively” upgraded to be as energy efficient as possible. (Increasing the efficiency of buildings has been called “the low hanging fruit” in greenhouse gas reduction programs, summarized in this earlier post). This includes designing new building codes that optimize energy efficiency in building construction and operation. It also includes, to the extent possible, retrofitting existing buildings to increase the efficiency of their consumption of energy. As part of their normal life cycle, buildings not susceptible of retrofitting at reasonable cost should be destroyed and replaced.
2. Generation of electricity should move toward operation that releases as little carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as possible, i. e., use of fossil fuels for electric power should be drastically reduced. This includes development of renewable sources of energy such as a wind power (see this earlier post) and solar power, the use of biofuels which is essentially carbon-neutral, implementation of carbon capture and sequestration technology (
Non-stationary sources of carbon dioxide emissions (primarily transportation and freight), and industrial users of energy, should move away from primary (i. e., direct) reliance on burning fossil fuels, and become electrified, to the greatest extent possible. This entails a major shift for passenger cars away from internal combustion engines toward hybrid electric or pure electric propulsion systems. Similarly, where feasible, industrial consumers of energy should also seek to employ electric power for their needs.
- Achieve economical 100% removal of CO2 with
- Totally remove use of fossil fuels with
CCSfrom generating electricity. This may be counterproductive if 100% capture of CO2 were achieved.
- Develop 100% ZELB. This could be highly advantageous to attain the emissions goal. Several technologies requiring extensive RD&D could potentially be applied.
- Use of biofuels with no net GHG emissions could make a significant contribution to achieving the 80% reduction goal. However, full life-cycle emissions may be greater than zero. In addition, land and resource constraints in
may preclude large scale use of biofuels, even if harvested from waste and marginal land sites. California
- A significant contribution could be made by eliciting population-wide changes in behavior and life-style, including use of smaller homes and cars, greater use of public transportation, and comparable changes in the commercial realm as well.
- Burning biomass when combined with
CCSresults in net negative emission of CO2, i.e., the combined result is to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This may be a more advantageous use of biomass than converting it to a biofuel.
- Hydrogen fuel can be prepared in a few different ways, currently known. The principal barrier to use of hydrogen is lack of adequate distribution networks, and lack of ways to incorporate hydrogen storage and release in vehicles, for example. Furthermore, currently fuel cell technology for burning hydrogen is costly.
- The greatest impact could be achieved by doubling the amount of biofuels. The technology is accessible; this alternative is hindered only in its negative impact on food production.
© 2011 Henry Auer