Sunday, October 28, 2007

ILUMINANDO EL CAMINO: HACIA UN FUTURO ENERGETICO SOSTENIBLE (INFORME DEL CONSEJO INTERACADEMIAS)


El líder de la oposición en España y el resto de nuestros políticos deberían, también en este tema, no preguntar a los familiares, conocidos y correligionarios (sorpendidos (todos los correligionarios se ven antes o después sorprendidos) de que los retos energéticos y medioambientales constituyan el primer desafío económico, social y tecnológico) sino estudiar, por ejemplo, los resultados publicados por el Consejo Interacademias, que incluye las Academias Nacionales de Ciencias de Estados Unidos, Gran Bretaña, Francia, Alemania, Brasil, China e India.El Informe con el título usado para esta entrada fue preparado por un grupo presido por el premio Nobel de Física Steven Chu, que es un investigador en bioenergía y director del Lawrence Berkeley National Lab .

El Informe ("Iluminando el camino: Hacia un futuro energético sostenible") pide acción inmediata y simultánea en tres áreas:

Mejora de la eficiencia energética y reducción de la intensidad de carbono de la ceonomía mundial, incluyendo la introudcción con ámbito mundial de precios para las emisiones de carbono.

Desarollo de tecnologías para la captura y almacenamiento de carbono procedente de combustibles fósiles y especialmente de carbón.

El desarollo y la entrada en funcionamiento de fuentes renovables debe acelerarse de modo sostenible.

ESTAS SON SUS NUEVE CONCLUSIONES

CONCLUSION 1: LOS POBRES PRIMERO

Today, an estimated 2.4 billion people use coal, charcoal, firewood, agricultural residues, or dung as their primary cooking fuel. Roughly 1.6 billion people worldwide live without electricity. Vast numbers of people, especially women and girls, are deprived of economic and educational opportunities without access to affordable, basic labor-saving devices or adequate lighting, added to the time each day spent gathering fuel and water.

CONCLUSION 2: MEJORA DE LA EFICIENCIA Y REDUCCION DE LA INTENSIDAD DE CARBONO

Concerted efforts must be made to improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon intensity of the world economy. Economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental considerations all argue for pursuing cost-effective, end-use efficiency opportunities. Such opportunities may be found throughout industry, transportation, and the built environment. To maximize efficiency gains and minimize costs, improvements should be incorporated in a holistic manner and from the ground up wherever possible, especially where long-lived infrastructure is involved.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Promote the enhanced dissemination of technology improvement and innovation between industrialized and developing countries. It will be especially important for all nations to work together to ensure that developing countries adopt cleaner and more efficient technologies as they industrialize.Align economic incentives—especially for durable capital investments—with long-run sustainability objectives and cost considerations. Incentives for regulated energy service providers should be structured to encourage co-investment in cost-effective efficiency improvements, and profits should be delinked from energy sales.Adopt policies aimed at accelerating the worldwide rate of decline in the carbon intensity of the global economy, where carbon intensity is measured as carbon dioxide equivalent emissions divided by gross world product, a crude measure of global well-being. Specifically, the Study Panel recommends immediate policy action to introduce meaningful price signals for avoided greenhouse gas emissions. Less important than the initial prices is that clear expectations be established concerning a predictable escalation of those prices over time. Merely holding carbon dioxide emissions constant over the next several decades implies that the carbon intensity of the world economy needs to decline at roughly the same rate as gross world product grows—achieving the absolute reductions in global emissions needed to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will require the worldwide rate of decline in carbon intensity to begin outpacing worldwide economic growth.
Enlist cities as a major driving force for the rapid implementation of practical steps to improve energy efficiency.
Inform consumers about the energy-use characteristics of products through labeling and implement mandatory minimum efficiency standards for appliances and equipment. Standards should be regularly updated and must be effectively enforced.
CONCLUSION 3: TECNOLOGIAS DE CAPTURA Y ALMACENAMIENTO DE CARBONO

Technologies for capturing and sequestering carbon from fossil fuels, particularly coal, can play a major role in the cost-effective management of global carbon dioxide emissions. As the world’s most abundant fossil fuel, coal will continue to play a large role in the world’s energy mix. It is also the most carbon-intensive conventional fuel in use, generating almost twice as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy supplied than natural gas. Today, new coal-fired power plants—most of which can be expected to last more than half a century—are being constructed at an unprecedented rate. Moreover, the carbon contribution from coal could expand further if nations with large coal reserves like the United States, China, and India turn to coal to address energy security concerns and develop alternatives to petroleum.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Accelerate the development and deployment of advanced coal technologies. Without policy interventions the vast majority of the coal-fired power plants constructed in the next two decades will be conventional, pulverized coal plants. Present technologies for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from pulverized coal plants on a retrofit basis are expensive and energy intensive. Where new coal plants without capture must be constructed, the most efficient technologies should be used. In addition, priority should be given to minimize the costs of future retrofits for carbon capture by developing at least some elements of carbon capture technology at every new plant. Active efforts to develop such technologies for different types of base plants are currently underway and should be encouraged by promoting the construction of full-scale plants that utilize the latest technology advances.Aggressively pursue efforts to commercialize carbon capture and storage. Moving forward with full-scale demonstration projects is critical, as is continued study and experimentation to reduce costs, improve reliability, and address concerns about leakage, public safety, and other issues. For capture and sequestration to be widely implemented, it will be necessary to develop regulations and to introduce price signals for carbon emissions. Based on current cost estimates, the Study Panel believes price signals on the order of US$100–150 per avoided metric ton of carbon equivalent (US$27–41 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent) will be required to induce the widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage. Price signals at this level would also give impetus to the accelerated deployment of biomass and other renewable energy technologies.Explore potential retrofit technologies for post-combustion carbon capture suitable for the large and rapidly growing population of existing pulverized coal plants. In the near term, efficiency improvements and advanced pollution control technologies should be applied to existing coal plants as a means of mitigating their immediate climate change and public health impacts.Pursue carbon capture and storage with systems that co-fire coal and biomass. This technology combination provides an opportunity to achieve net negative greenhouse gas emissions—effectively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

CONCLUSION 4: ALTERNATIVAS AL PETROLEO Y EL GAS

Competition for oil and natural gas supplies has the potential to become a source of growing geopolitical tension and economic vulnerability for many nations in the decades ahead. In many developing countries, expenditures for energy imports also divert scarce resources from other urgent public health, education, and infrastructure development needs. The transport sector accounts for just 25 percent of primary energy consumption worldwide, but the lack of fuel diversity in this sector makes transport fuels especially valuable.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduce policies and regulations that promote reduced energy consumption in the transport sector by (a) improving the energy efficiency of automobiles and other modes of transport and (b) improving the efficiency of transport systems (e.g., through investments in mass transit, better land-use and city planning, etc.).Develop alternatives to petroleum to meet the energy needs of the transport sector, including biomass fuels, plug-in hybrids, and compressed natural gas, as well as — in the longer run — advanced alternatives, such as hydrogen fuel cells.
Implement policies to ensure that the development of petroleum alternatives is pursued in a manner that is compatible with other sustainability objectives. Current methods for liquefying coal and extracting oil from unconventional sources, such as tar sands and shale oil, generate substantially higher levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutant emissions compared to conventional petroleum consumption. Even with carbon capture and sequestration, a liquid fuel derived from coal will at best produce emissions of carbon dioxide roughly equivalent to those of conventional petroleum at the point of combustion. If carbon emissions from the conversion process are not captured and stored, total fuel-cycle emissions for this energy pathway as much as double. The conversion of natural gas to liquids is less carbon intensive than coal to liquids, but biomass remains the only near-term feedstock that has the potential to be truly carbon-neutral and sustainable on a long-term basis. In all cases, full fuel-cycle impacts depend critically on the feedstock being used and on the specific extraction or conversion methods being employed.

NEEDED ACTIONS

Governments should introduce (further) policies and regulations aimed at reducing energy consumption and developing petroleum alternatives for use in the transport sector.

CONCLUSION 5: ENERGIA NUCLEAR CON CAUTELA

As a low-carbon resource, nuclear power can continue to make a significant contribution to the world’s energy portfolio in the future, but only if major concerns related to capital cost, safety, and weapons proliferation are addressed. Nuclear power plants generate no carbon dioxide or conventional air pollutant emissions during operation, use a relatively abundant fuel feedstock, and involve orders-of-magnitude smaller mass flows, relative to fossil fuels. Nuclear’s potential, however, is currently limited by concerns related to cost, waste management, proliferation risks, and plant safety (including concerns about vulnerability to acts of terrorism and concerns about the impact of neutron damage on plant materials in the case of life extensions). A sustained role for nuclear power will require addressing these hurdles.
CONCLUSION 6: APOYO DE LAS FUENTES ENERGETICAS RENOVABLES

Renewable energy in its many forms offers immense opportunities for technological progress and innovation. Over the next 30–60 years, sustained efforts must be directed toward realizing these opportunities as part of a comprehensive strategy that supports a diversity of resource options over the next century. The fundamental challenge for most renewable options involves cost-effectively tapping inherently diffuse and in some cases intermittent resources. Sustained, long-term support—in various forms—is needed to overcome these hurdles. Renewable energy development can provide important benefits in underdeveloped and developing countries because oil, gas, and other fuels are hard cash commodities.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Implement policies—including policies that generate price signals for avoided carbon emissions—to ensure that the environmental benefits of renewable resources relative to non-renewable resources will be systematically recognized in the marketplace.Provide subsidies and other forms of public support for the early deployment of new renewable technologies. Subsidies should be targeted to promising but not-yet-commercial technologies and decline gradually over time.Explore alternate policy mechanisms to nurture renewable energy technologies, such as renewable portfolio standards (which set specific goals for renewable energy deployment) and ‘reverse auctions’ (in which renewable energy developers bid for a share of limited public funds on the basis of the minimum subsidy they require on a per kilowatt-hour basis).Invest in research and development on more transformational technologies, such as new classes of solar cells that can be made with thin-film, continuous fabrication processes.Conduct sustained research to assess and mitigate any negative environmental impacts associated with the large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies. Although these technologies offer many environmental benefits, they may also pose new environmental risks as a result of their low power density and the consequently large land area required for large-scale deployment.

NEEDED ACTIONS

Governments should substantially facilitate the use—in an environmentally sustainable way—of renewable energy resources through adequate policies and subsidies. A major policy step in this direction would include implementing clear price signals for avoided greenhouse gas emissions.

CONCLUSION 7: LOS BIOCOMBUSTIBLES CONSTITUYEN UNA ALTERNATIVA PROMETEDORA PARA ABORDAR EL CAMBIO CLIMATICO Y LA SEGURIDAD ENERGETICA

Improvements in agriculture will allow for food production adequate to support a predicted peak world population on the order of 9 billion people with excess capacity for growing energy crops. Maximizing the potential contribution of biofuels requires commercializing methods for producing fuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks (including agricultural residues and wastes), which have the potential to generate five to ten times more fuel than processes that use starches from feedstocks, such as sugar cane and corn. Recent advances in molecular and systems biology show great promise in developing improved feedstocks and much less energy-intensive means of converting plant material into liquid fuel. In addition, intrinsically more efficient conversion of sunlight, water, and nutrients into chemical energy may be possible with microbes.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Conduct intensive research into the production of biofuels based on lignocellulose conversion.
Invest in research and development on direct microbial production of butanol or other forms of biofuels that may be superior to ethanol.
Implement strict regulations to insure that the cultivation of biofuels feedstocks accords with sustainable agricultural practices and promotes biodiversity, habitat protection, and other land management objectives.
Develop advanced bio-refineries that use biomass feedstocks to self-generate power and extract higher-value co-products. Such refineries have the potential to maximize economic and environmental gains from the use of biomass resources.
Develop improved biofuels feedstocks through genetic selection and/or molecular engineering, including drought resistant and self-fertilizing plants that require minimal tillage and fertilizer or chemical inputs.Mount a concerted effort to collect and analyze data on current uses of biomass by type and technology (both direct and for conversion to other fuels), including traditional uses of biomass.Conduct sustained research to assess and mitigate any adverse environmental or ecosystem impacts associated with the large-scale cultivation of biomass energy feedstocks, including impacts related to competition with other land uses (including uses for habitat preservation and food production), water needs, etc.

NEEDED ACTIONS

The S&T community and the private sector should greatly augment their research and development (and deployment) efforts toward more efficient, environmentally sustainable technologies and processes for the production of modern biofuels.
Governments can help by stepping up public research and development funding and by adapting existing subsidy and fiscal policies so as to favor the use of biofuels over that of fossil fuels, especially in the transport sector.
Governments should pay appropriate attention to promoting sustainable means of biofuels production and to avoiding conflicts between biofuel production and food production.
CONCLUSION 8: DESARROLLO DE NUEVAS INFRAESTRUCTURAS

The development of cost-effective energy storage technologies, new energy carriers, and improved transmission infrastructure could substantially reduce costs and expand the contribution from a variety of energy supply options.Such technology improvements and infrastructure investments are particularly important to tap the full potential of intermittent renewable resources, especially in cases where some of the most abundant and cost-effective resource opportunities exist far from load centers. Improved storage technologies, new energy carriers, and enhanced transmission and distribution infrastructure will also facilitate the delivery of modern energy services to the world’s poor—especially in rural areas.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Continue long-term research and development into potential new energy carriers for the future, such as hydrogen. Hydrogen can be directly combusted or used to power a fuel cell and has a variety of potential applications, including as an energy source for generating electricity or in other stationary applications and as an alternative to petroleum fuels for aviation and road transport. Cost and infrastructure constraints, however, are likely to delay widespread commercial viability until mid-century or later.Develop improved energy storage technologies, either physical (e.g., compressed air or elevated water storage) or chemical (e.g., batteries, hydrogen, or hydrocarbon fuel produced from the reduction of carbon dioxide) that could significantly improve the market prospects of intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar power.Pursue continued improvements and cost reductions in technologies for transmitting electricity over long distances. High-voltage, direct-current transmission lines, in particular, could be decisive in making remote areas accessible for renewable energy development, improving grid reliability, and maximizing the contribution from a variety of low-carbon electricity sources. In addition, it will be important to improve overall grid management and performance through the development and application of advanced or ‘smart’ grid technologies that could greatly enhance the responsiveness and reliability of electricity transmission and distribution networks.

CONCLUSION 9: IMPLICACION DE LA COMUNIDAD CIENTIFICA

The S&T community — together with the general public — has a critical role to play in advancing sustainable energy solutions and must be effectively engaged.As noted repeatedly in the foregoing recommendations, the energy challenges of this century and beyond demand sustained progress in developing, demonstrating, and deploying new and improved energy technologies. These advances will need to come from the S&T community, motivated and supported by appropriate policies, incentives, and market drivers.

LOS CIUDADANOS, INCREDULOS O NO, PUEDEN CONSULTAR EL ESTUDIO COMPLETO EN EL LINK ABAJO INSERTADO.LOS POLITICOS ESPAÑOLES NO LO NECESITAN: ELLOS PUEDEN CONSULTAR A SUS CORRELIGIONARIOS, CONOCIDOS Y AMIGOS Y DECIDIR SOBRE LA MARCHA.

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