11 building blocks for the transition to sustainable energy

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In five consecutive blog posts, I have explored the opportunities and risks in the energy transition of carbon capturing and storage (CCS), biomass, geothermal energy, hydrogen, and nuclear energy, in addition to solar and wind. Find my conclusions below:

1. Sun and wind energy
I will feel most comfortable in a world deploying energy provided by sun and wind to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This implies a huge transition, which, also brings significant benefits for an emerging sustainable economy.

2. Nuclear energy plants
Instead of opting for an expensive third-generation nuclear power plants, we better invest in the development of fourth generation nuclear energy plants, such as Thorium, or molten salt reactors. Their waste is limited, and they are inherently safe. These reactors could potentially replace outdated wind turbines and solar panels from 2040.

3. Using less
We must also continue using less energy, without undue expectations. After all, clean energy can potentially be abundantly available in the long term, although this is particularly relevant for developing countries.

4. Hydrogen energy
In addition to the use of solar and wind energy, I am opting for hydrogen. It will be used for heavy industry, to level discrepancies in the supply and demand of energy and as an additional provision for heating buildings and houses. The presence of a high-quality gas network is easing this choice. In addition, we use residual heat, biomass of reliable origin and we exploit geothermal energy where its long-term availability is assured.

5. Energy from the desert
By no means we are producing all necessary hydrogen gas ourselves. The expectation is realistic that after 2030 it will be produced in deserts and transported from there at a competitive price.

6. Wind turbines and solar panels
The North Sea and the IJsselmeer will become the most important places for the extraction of wind energy. Besides, solar panels are installed on roofs wherever possible. We care for our landscape and therefore critically consider places where ground-based solar panels can be installed and where wind turbines are not disturbing. Part of the wind energy is converted into hydrogen on site.

7. Capture and store CO2
It could easily last until 2040 before the import and production of hydrogen meets our needs. Therefore, we must continue to use (imported) gas for quite some time.  To prevent greenhouse gas emission, significant capacity to capture and store CO2 must be in place.

8. Gas and coal
Given the availability of temporary underground storage of CO2, premature shutting down our super-efficient gas and coal-fired power stations it is unnecessary capital destruction. They can remain in operation until the facilities for solar and wind energy generation are at the desired level and sufficient hydrogen gas is available.

9. Local energy
Energy co-operations facilitate the local use of locally produced energy, thus enabling lower prices, and limiting the expansion of the electricity grid. To this end, private and neighborhood storage of electricity is provided.

10. Biomass
Reliably collected biomass is deployed as raw material for the biochemical industry in the first place and can further be used for additional fueling of coal and gas-powered stations (with CO2 capture) and as local energy source for medium temperature district heating networks.

11. Take some time
Finally, we must take enough time to choose the best way to heat buildings and houses at neighborhood level. Getting off gas prematurely can induce wrong choices in the longer term. A gradual phasing out of gas heating will enable us to wait longer for the moment when hydrogen (gas) is available to replace the natural gas in neighborhoods where it is the best solution.

hmjvandenbosch.com

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