Royal Hotel, Amman, Jordan 10-12 November 2009
Robert Klapisch : Green Energies : Why consider them ? Which ones should we favor ?
This Conference was organised by the Hashemite University and Mousa Mohsen, member of our Scientific Committee, had invited Robert Klapisch to participate.
Robert Klapisch started by pointing out that Green Energy meant different things for different people. For some, the priority is to reduce CO2 emissions, for others– particularly US politicians, the priority is to ensure energy independance. Those different motivations do not lead to the same policies. The growth of the demand in energy is linked to economic activity. The best evidence of this fact is that the actual world wide recession has led for the first time to a decrease of world consumption. It is imperative for us to reduce our CO2 emissions. To avoid catastrophic climate change, an important deadline is 2050. It is generally assumed that in order to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees, we will have to limit the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to 500 ppm.
Robert Klapisch stressed the important difficulties in reaching this goal and the necessity to mix measures. Electricity generation causes 60% of CO2 emissions. According to the speaker, wind and solar energy will not suffice. They might provide solutions in the long term, but are intermittent by nature and relatively expensive compared to coal or nuclear power.
Carbon capture and sequestration, and also nuclear will be the main solutions. Nuclear power does not emit CO2 and offers a decisive price advantage compared to the volatile prices of coal and gas. Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from coal and gas power stations are insufficient. CO2 has to be captured and buried. Robert Klapisch mentions the example of Norway, where the oil company Statoil buries successfully, since 1996, CO2 from an oil-field into a salin aquifer.
Autos and airplanes require liquid fuels, but as the speaker underlined , biofuels proved themselves quite disappointing, mainly because of the competition with food production. Nonetheless, electric cars seem to be a promising alternative, principaly for a urban use. The main difficulty is the battery capacity and efficiency. Finally, the most distant prospect is hydrogen that would allow us to achieve the goal of a “Closed Cycle Carbon economy” for our planet.
Robert Klapisch concludes repeting 2050 goals, reminding us that Green Energies will only survive if they are economically competitive. Subsides are reasonable to initiate a process but should not go on indefinitely. It is up to us to make the right choices in order to avoid costly mistakes.