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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2012

Chapter 12 - Fossil Energy

Summary

Executive Summary

Analysis in Chapter 12 shows that a radical transformation of the fossil energy landscape is feasible for simultaneously meeting the multiple sustainability goals of wider access to modern energy carriers, reduced air pollution health risks, enhanced energy security, and major greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

Fossil fuels will dominate energy use for decades to come. Two findings apply to developing and industrialized countries alike. First, fossil fuels must be used judiciously – by designing energy systems for which the quality of energy supply is well matched to the quality of energy service required, and by exploiting other opportunities for realizing high efficiencies. Second, continued use of coal and other fossil fuels in a carbon-constrained world requires that carbon capture and storage (CCS) becomes a major carbon mitigation activity.

Since developing and industrialized countries have different energy priorities, strategies for fossil energy development will be different between these regions in the short term, but must converge in the long term. The focus in developing countries should be on increasing access to modern and clean energy carriers, building new manufacturing and energy infrastructures that anticipate the evolution to low carbon energy systems, and exploiting the rapid growth in these infrastructures to facilitate introduction of the advanced energy technologies needed to meet sustainability goals. Rapidly growing economies are good theaters for innovation. In industrialized countries, where energy infrastructures are largely already in place, a high priority should be overhauling existing coal power plant sites to add additional capabilities (such as coproduction of power and fuels) and CCS.

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