There have been relatively slowly changing trends in energy infrastructures over the past few decades but the mix of future energy providers is likely to change in the future. A number of countries are reviewing their energy policies for some time in the future. For example, the UK government published an Energy White Paper (Energy White Paper, 2003) in 2003, which proposed an energy policy looking forward to the year 2050. The paper covered all forms of energy requirement, from electricity generation, heating and lighting to transport, industry and communications. It was based on in-depth analysis following a report published by a UK-appointed strategy unit in 2002 (The Energy Review, 2002). Other countries are performing similar reviews, see e. g. the forward vision to 2030 published by VTT, Finland (Energy Visions 2030 for Finland, 2003). The strategy for the UK is outlined below, by way of example.

The major global challenges that need to be faced are:

— environmental and climatic change from carbon dioxide levels increase;

— decline of the world’s indigenous energy supplies, from oil, gas, and coal and how these may be replaced (e. g. by nuclear, renewables);

— the need to update national energy infrastructures over the next few decades to meet new energy mixes.

The goals of most of the industrialised countries are to:

— reduce carbon dioxide emissions with specific targets. In the UK the goal is to cut carbon dioxide emissions by some 60% by about 2050, with significant progress by 2020. Many, but not all, countries support the Kyoto Protocol;

— maintain reliability of energy supplies;

— promote competitive markets, raising the rate of sustainable economic growth and improving productivity. There is an increasing trend toward deregulation;

— meet other energy (non-electrical) requirements for industrial and domestic supply (e. g. to ensure every home is adequately and affordably heated).

To meet these goals, it is likely that an energy system will be required that is quite different from that of today. Much more diverse systems are envisaged. These will include a balance between imported energy and fuel, a mix of large power stations, that could include offshore marine plants, including wave, tidal and wind farms and also onshore wind farms. There would be an increase in local generation, including biomass, local wind and tidal generators and micro-generation from combined heat and power (CHP) plant, fuel cells or photovoltaics. Energy efficiency improvements would be expected from improved home design. Gas might be expected to form a large part of the energy mix whereas coal fired generation would either play a reduced part or be linked to carbon dioxide capture and storage.

There have been debates in many sectors (industry, learned societies), etc. on how goals for security of energy supply can be achieved and there are many different opinions. In the UK for example, the future of energy was the focus of the 2002 Parliamentary Links Day, organised by the Royal Society of Chemists (http://www. rsc. org/lap/parliament/linksday. htm). This included an audience of distinguished scientists and politicians and covered energy-related activities taking place in government and industry. The scope was broad across the energy spectrum, covering nuclear and non-nuclear, electrical and non­electrical applications.

Many of the presently operating nuclear plants will be shut down over the next two decades. In the UK, by 2020, the existing AGR nuclear power stations will almost all have reached the end of their lives and all the Magnox stations will have shut down. However, new build continues in Asia and some new plants are likely in Europe in the next few years. Nuclear power remains an option for the future for the UK. However, the Government White Paper did not propose it and stated that before any decision to proceed with the building of a new power station, there would need to be the fullest consultation and publication of a White Paper setting down the Government’s proposals. The arguments for a delay were both on economic grounds and concerned with the issue of waste disposal (sustainability).

It is increasingly recognised internationally (within the EC, US and Japan, as described in the section on hydrogen generation) that the ‘hydrogen economy’ has significant benefits as a clean and flexible energy system. In a report to the Parliamentary Links Day, the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser also anticipates a significant move towards a hydrogen economy by 2020 (http://www. rsc. org/lap/parliament/linksday. htm). This view is also supported by the UK nuclear industry (Clegg, 2002) and others. The issue is how to produce hydrogen without releasing carbon dioxide.

In the Section 17.4, world events of recent years are examined. After that, a discussion is given on how these and other developments may shape developments in the near future. The remaining sections continue to look further into the future, covering likely developments over the next half-century.

Добавить комментарий

Ваш e-mail не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *