Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist [.]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist [.]

Article excerpt


TWO weeks ago a new UK record was set when, on one of the hottest days of the year so far, the country produced 16% of our electricity from solar energy.

Across the European Union (EU) solar, wind and hydro met 15% of electricity demand in 2013 and the EU is on track to meet its 20% renewables target in 2020.

China is also undergoing a renewable energy revolution, from virtually nothing 10 years ago it now produces 25% of its electricity from renewables and is spending as much as the US and EU put together on clean power.

Across the world renewables are making a growing contribution to tackling climate change.

However renewables alone will not be enough. As we canter down the weeks to the UN climate change talks in Paris this December we need to be deploying as many approaches as possible in endeavouring to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2degC, the point at which scientists say we will trigger irreversible and damaging changes to our global climate.

With a growing world population and all of them wanting access to energy we need to be realistic about fossil fuels.

We know burning them is the cause of climate change but simply stopping their use isn't feasible.

Yes, wherever possible we need to reduce their usage but India and China have the world's biggest coal reserves and in seeking development for their peoples they are going to dig it up and burn it. It is also difficult to see developed countries like the UK, Norway and the USA forgoing the fossil fuel reserves they have.

This is where a developing technology known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has a crucial role to play and last week I had the good fortune to visit an industrial scale testing of CCS at Mongstad an hours drive north of Bergen in Norway.

CCS is a chemistry teacher's dream in action. Here on the Norwegian coast flue gas, heavy in carbon dioxide (CO2), is emitted from a gas turbine power plant and from an oil refinery.

This carbon makes Mongstad Norway's number one climate change black spot.

CCS works by stripping out the CO2 from the flue gas enabling it to be 'captured' and then piped off for permanent 'storage'. …

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