Carbon dioxide

The availability of fossil fuels will decrease, but that is not the only concern about using fossil fuels. During combustion it is inevitable that carbon dioxide is produced. Of the fossil fuels, coals gives off the most CO2, oil somewhat less and gas the least per energy unit produced.

The figure below shows emission by type of consumer.

The production of electricity produces the largest amount of CO2 of any energy consumer group. This is due to the fact that coal fired power plants are the largest producer of electricity in the world. Other big generators, which also contribute to CO2 emissions, are gas fired and diesel power stations.

The figure below shows the proportion of different types of electric generation.

 

About two thirds of all electricity in the world is generated by fossil fuels. If we look at new production it is encouraging that wind power is increasing very rapidly, as is hydroelectric power. The latter has been made possible by new technology developed to transfer electric power by High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC).

Coal fired power plants are large facilities. In several places around the world, tests are being undertaken to capture and store the carbon dioxide that is generated. The idea is that the CO2 could be pumped back into geological formations in the ground and be kept there for a very long time.

Should this succeed, a considerable portion of electricity could be produced without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. Coal is the fossil fuel that will last the longest. Most sources agree that there is about one hundred to several hundred years’ worth of coal yet to be exploited. This as yet bountiful resource would give the world time to develop alternative energy sources not based on fossil sources.

Links:

Carbon capture and storage

CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage at Vattenfall

 

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