Net Zero by 2050: Technology for a Changing Climate

Book. Net Zero by 2050: Technology for a Changing Climate

Ordering Information

This book is under development. The information provided here is taken from the current draft.


The phrase ‘Net Zero by 2050’ has been adopted by many organizations: governments, companies and non-profits. It means that the organization in question aims to have net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2050.It also describes the technologies that are used to achieve this difficult goal. This book describes on realistic responses, with a focus on technology and the role of commercial companies and industry. 

The emphasis throughout the book is on what can be realistically achieved, given short amount of time available and the huge investments of time, money and resources that will be required. For this reason each chapter includes a section entitled ‘Realities’. Each chapter also includes an assessment of that technology’s status using a simple Phase-Gate diagram.

The book is organized into the following eighteen chapters.

Chapter 1: Net Zero: An Opportunity

This first chapter describes the concept of ‘Net Zero’ — what it is and why it matters.

Governments around the world are failing to meet the ambitious goals that they have set for themselves. However, the situation does provide an opportunity for companies, including those in the energy and process industries, to provide much-needed leadership.

The chapter shows that climate change is not an isolated issue — it links in complex ways to many other issues, including resource depletion, population increase and excess debt.

It is available as a stand-alone ebook.

Follow the links to learn more about each section.

Summary
The Ebook Series
Three Questions
Need for Action
Response
Thesis / Antithesis / Synthesis  
   Thesis   
   Antithesis
   Synthesis
The Precautionary Principle
Business Imagination
Technology
Example: Electric Vehicles
Who Will Respond?    
   Governments  
   Individuals / Small Groups
   Business and Industry
Selling Net Zero
Transition Steps
Conclusions

Chapter 2: An Age of Limits

In this ebook we provide an overview of the climate crisis — what it is, what is causing it, and what the consequences may be. (The stress is on the word ‘overview’; there are many ebooks, web sites and reports that explain the topic in much greater detail.) We also show how the climate issues are part of a broader set of problems and predicaments that interact with one another in complex and difficult-to-understand ways. Climate change is not a stand-alone topic; instead, it is just one component of an overall energy predicament and ‘Age of Limits’ predicament.

The ebook starts with a description of the ‘300-Year Party’ — the short period of time in which we were able to build an industrial civilization on a foundation of fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas. The ebook then provides a description of the work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), including its latest Sixth Assessment reports. The role of the COPs (Conference of the Parties) is also discussed. An overview of the ‘Limits to Growth’ study is provided.

Summary
The Three Hundred Year Party
   Peak Forests    
   The Atmospheric Engine  
   The Industrial Revolution 
   The Church of Progress   
   Living Within the Biosphere
A Climate Change Review
   Atmospheric Temperature
   Not Just CO2
   Committed Warming
Modeling Limitations    
   Models  — Not Reality
   Scientific Reticence   
   Tipping Points   
   Unanticipated Events  
The IPCC
A Clunky Sentence 
Key Reports 
   Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees 
   Physical Science Basis Report   
   Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Report 
   Mitigation of Climate Change Report 
   Synthesis Report
   Fact Sheet   
Conferences of the Parties   
   COP21 — The Paris Agreement  
   Response to Paris    
   COP26
   2030 Goals   
A Clunky Sentence
An Age of Limits   
Limits to Growth 
End of Growth
Conclusions

Chapter 3: Energy

Abstract  
Evaluation
Properties
Example — Steam to Diesel 
Hydrocarbon Fuels 
   Oil   
   Natural Gas  
   Coal
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Safety Diamonds
   Environmental
   HSE of Hydrocarbon/Fossil Fuels
An Energy Grid
   A — Energy Source: Intermittent 
   B — Energy Source: Continuous   
   C — Storage  
   D — Electrolysis of Water 
   E — Hydrogen/Ammonia  
   F — Carbon Capture and Storage 
   G — Grid  
   H — Transportation
   I — Industry
   J — Biofuels
   K — Refining
Reality Check 
Alternative Energy 
   A Slow Transition
   The Renewables Paradox
Energy Sectors    
Energy Returned on Energy Invested  
Transition Energy    
Intermittency    
   Available    
   Dispatchable
   Going First Subsidy
Efficiency and Resilience   
   Cost    
   Affordability   
   Non-Financial Resources   
Communication   
The Exponential Function 
   Who to Believe?  
   Responding to the Challenge 
Government Responses    
Engineering and Scale-Up 
Realities   
Example — Scale-Up of Nuclear Power 
Project Management    
   Phase I — Concept    
   Phase II — Demonstrate
   Phase III — Commercialize
   Phase IV — Implement
The Business Opportunity
   Avoiding the Kodak Moment
   Adaptability
   Disruptive Technologies

Chapter 4: Biofuels

The first alternative fuel to be considered is biofuel. One reason for going with it first is that we have used biofuels for many years — they are well established and well understood.

Abstract
Background
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Biomass Sources
   Wood
   Charcoal / Biochar
   Ethanol
Biomass Conversion
   Combustion
   Gasification
   Pyrolysis    
   Hydrothermal Liquefaction
Algae Biofuels
Plastics to Oil
Artificial Leaves 

Chapter 5: Solar

Solar energy can be used in one of two ways. Its heat can be used directly, for example to heat water, or it can generate electricity in photo-voltaic cells.

Abstract
Background
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Shockley-Queisser Limit 
Intermittency
Location and Seasonality
Space and Water Heating
Solar Cells
   Photovoltaic Effect
   Solar Power System
   Storing Power
Passive Solar Heat
   Big Dish Solar 
Deserts
Raw Materials

Chapter 6: Wind

Like solar, wind power is a proven source of energy that is commercially established.

Abstract
Background
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
The Betz Limit   
Offshore Wind Power  
   Challenges   
   Capital Costs
Vortex Power

Chapter 7: Hydrogen and Ammonia

Hydrogen is the ultimate clean fuel. When it burns in air it creates just water vapor (along with trace amounts of nitrogen oxides). When compressed or liquefied it also has a high energy density. It is widely used as a chemical feedstock in industry, particularly refineries and chemical plants. Its use as a fuel to date has been limited, mostly due to difficulties with its handling and storage and its expense.

Ammonia is an important industrial chemical that is vital to the functioning of modern economies. It is widely used as a fertilizer, a refrigerant, for pollution control, and as a building block for many other chemicals, including explosives.  

Abstract
Background
The Hydrogen Economy
   An Abundant Supply
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Colors of Hydrogen
Manufacture of Hydrogen 
Black/Brown Hydrogen
Blue Hydrogen
Green Hydrogen
Electrolysis / Pyrolysis
   Alkaline-Water Electrolysis (AWE)
   Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM)
   Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE)
   Anion Exchange Membrane Electrolysis (AEM)
Methane Pyrolysis
Storage and Industrial Use  
   Storage 
   Transportation 
Hydrogen as a Fuel  
   Combustion
   Fuel Cells  
   Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers
Ammonia
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Safety Diamond
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Manufacture of Ammonia  
   Gen 0 — Traditional Process 
   Gen 1 — Blue Ammonia 
   Gen 2 — Green Ammonia 
   Gen 3 — Direct Manufacture 
Storage and Transmission 
Infrastructure
Hydrogen vs. Ammonia
The Nitrogen Cycle

Chapter 8: Nuclear

Nuclear power is a topic that arouses strong emotions in many people. The fact that nuclear energy was first used for military purposes is one reason for this reaction. People are particularly fearful of the long-term consequences to do with disposal of nuclear waste. After all, the fossil fuels are hydrocarbons. They had their origin in living organisms and their combustion products will eventually become part of the Earth’s overall life cycle. Such is not the case with nuclear technology. It is mysterious and difficult to understand. 

Abstract
Background
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Safety Diamond
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Nuclear Power (Fission) 
   Unrealized Hopes 
   Safety  
Risk and Nuclear Safety
Four Generations of Technology
   Gen II  
   Reactor Types 
   Negative Learning Curve
   Safety   
Gen III   
Gen IV  
   Molten Salt Reactors   
   Small Modular Reactors  
   Thorium Reactors 
Nuclear / Renewables  
Nuclear Fusion   

Chapter 9: Hydroelectric and Ocean

In many ways hydroelectric power is an ideal source of energy. Water is stored behind a dam wall and then released in a controlled manner through a power plant. Once the facility is built, there are no emissions. Moreover, the power that it supplies is ‘always on’ — it is not intermittent.

Abstract
Background
Hydroelectric
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Tidal Power
HSE
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Ocean Energy
   Wave Motion
   Vortex Energy
   Ocean Currents   
   Thermal Energy

Chapter 10: Geothermal

Abstract   
Background 
Properties    
HSE    
   Health
   Safety    
   Environmental
Energy Grid   
Project Phase
Reality Check
Overview    
   Natural Geothermal    
   Enhanced Geothermal 
Heat Pumps    
   Closed Loop Systems  
Steam / Binary 

Chapter 11: Energy Storage

If society is to achieve the ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal then wind and solar are going to make up a large fraction of the total energy supply mix. As has been frequently pointed out, attractive though these energy sources may be, they have important limitations. In particular, they have a low energy density, and they are intermittent. Given that the sun is not always shining, nor the wind blowing, these two sources supply energy only about 35% of the time, and that they may not supply that energy at the time that it is most needed.

Abstract
Background
Evaluation
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
Types of Energy Storage
Gravity
   Pumped Hydro   
   Weights   
Hydrogen   
   Underground Storage    
   Hydrides
   Nanotubes
Ammonia
Compressed Air  
Liquid Air   
Thermal Energy Storage   
   Steam  
   Molten Salt  
   Pumped Heat Electrical Storage
Batteries — Utility Scale  
   Lithium-ion Batteries
   Solid State Batteries
   Liquid Metal Batteries 
   Red-Ox   
Thermal Energy 
Thermochemical Energy
   Ammonia
Flywheels 
Heat  

Chapter 12: Carbon Capture and Sequestration

The previous chapters have described means of generating energy without creating greenhouse gas emissions. Given the urgency of the climate crisis just switching to alternative energy sources is insufficient. It will also be necessary to implement carbon capture and sequestration (CC&S) technologies. These can either remove CO2 at the point of combustion or they can extract CO2 that is already in the atmosphere. The removed CO2 is then sequestered, i.e., stored in underground formations for the indefinite future. 

Abstract
Background
Properties
HSE
   Health
   Safety
   Environment
Energy Grid
Project Phase
Reality Check
   Biological Capture: Phase I
   Point Capture: Phase II    
   Direct Air Capture: Phase III
   Sequestration: Phase III    
   Emergency Direct Air Capture
Natural CC&S
Nature’s CC&S
Ocean Carbon Cycle
   Ocean Acidification   
   Ocean Stratification  
Economics    
CC&S Strategies
Biological Carbon Capture
   Burning Biomass    
   Ocean Fertilization 
   Forestation    
Point Capture    
   Pre-Combustion
   Post-Combustion    
   Oxyfuel    
   “Dirty” Coal    
Conventional Process 
   Allam Power Cycle   
Direct Air Capture
   Pellets 
   Liquid Solvent   
   Solid Absorbent
Synthetic Fuels
Sequestration   
   Oil Wells    
   Salt Caverns    
   Ocean Storage
   Mineralization
   Transportation of CO2
   Rebound Effects    
Products from CO2   
   EOR Oil Recovery 
   Petrochemicals
   Cement
   Fuel Oil from Plastics
Commercial Applications
   Climeworks    
   Carbon Engineering    
   Blue Planet Systems   
   Charm Industrial  
   Global Thermostat
   Infinitree    
   Skytree    
New Technology

Chapter 13: Geoengineering

If our efforts to contain global warming are ineffective there will be increased interest in efforts to contain the damage. One of these efforts — carbon capture and sequestration — is already being applied on a small scale. Other options, such as putting reflectors in space, could have many unanticipated consequences. They also raise profound social and ethical concerns.

Abstract
Background
Reality Check
   Ethics
   Uncertainty   
   Unanticipated Consequences   
Risks and Concerns   
   Ocean Acidification   
   Regional Impact 
   Air Quality   
   On-Going Commitment   
   Governance
   Forestation   
Solar Radiation Management   
Space Reflectors   
Surface Reflectors   
   Ground-Level Reflection   
   Ocean Mirror   
Stratospheric Aerosol Injection   
Clouds   
   Marine Cloud Brightening   
   Cloud Thinning  
Ocean Seeding   
Ocean Fertilization

Chapter 14: Transportation

Transportation — shipping, air travel, rail, roads — consumes about 28% of the energy used in the United States. Other activities such as cement and fertilizer production make major contributions to CO2 emissions but have a much lower profile. Therefore, it is useful to consider transportation as its own category because that is what the public sees. Transportation is the public face of Net Zero programs.

Abstract
Background
Electric Grid 
Hydrogen    
Ammonia    
   Direct Combustion
   Ammonia Fuel Cells
   Gas Turbines   
Biofuels
Wind
Shipping
   Ammonia  
   Hydrogen    
   Wind Power
Rail
   High Speed Rail 
   Hyperloop 
Road  
   Trams / Streetcars
   Trolley Buses
   Battery Electric Vehicles
   Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
   Range  
   Refueling Stations 
   Safety 
   Cost    
Aviation  
   Hydrogen   
   Ammonia    
Infrastructure  

Chapter 15: Industry

Developing new sources of energy has ramifications throughout all parts of industry, not just in the direct generation of electrical and motive power.

Abstract
Example
Petrochemicals
Refining
   Refinery Schematic
   Refining Grid
Methanol
Steel
Cement

Chapter 16: Rules and Standards

Abstract
SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission)
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
The European Union
The United Kingdom

Chapter 17: The Path Forward

Abstract
Evaluating the Alternatives
   Global Scope
   Biofuels
   Solar
   Wind 
   Hydrogen
   Ammonia (fuel)
   Nuclear Fission
   Nuclear Fusion
   Hydroelectric
   Geothermal
   Ocean Energy
   Carbon Capture and Sequestration
   Geoengineering
   Energy storage
Net Zero Scopes
Cost
   Capital Cost
   Energy Returned
   Carbon Tax
Incremental Progress
Energy Grid of the Future
The Energy Companies
Localization
Industry
Stranded Assets
Non-Technology Responses
   The Core Questions
   Personal / Community
   Agriculture
   Political / Organizational
   Technology
Redundancy and Resilience
   Lean Operations
Adaptation 
Professional Societies / Regulators
Planning for the Worst Case
Selling Net Zero
Standards and Regulations
Psychological Hurdles

Chapter 18: The Net Zero Professional

This chapter provides some thoughts as to how individuals can adopt a career path for a rapidly changing world.

Abstract
A Sense of Exile
Survival of the Adaptable
Professional Attributes   
   Basic Needs   
   Systems Thinking   
   Social Impact   
   Handling Uncertainty   
   Flexibility   
   Numeracy 
   Liberal Arts 
   Generalists and Experts
Technical Specialties
   Project Management
   Electrical Engineering
   Chemical Engineering
   Nuclear Engineering
   Human Factors
Process Safety Management
   Imagination
   Performance-Based 
   Non-prescriptive
   Participation 
   Involvement of Non-Professionals
   Hazards Analysis  
   Systems Analysis  

Author: Ian Sutton

Chapters

  1. Net Zero: An Opportunity
  2. An Age of Limits
  3. Energy 
  4. Biofuels
  5. Solar
  6. Wind
  7. Hydrogen and Ammonia
  8. Nuclear
  9. Hydroelectric and Ocean
  10. Geothermal
  11. Energy Storage
  12. Carbon Capture and Sequestration
  13. Geoengineering
  14. Transportation
  15. Industry
  16. Rules and Standards
  17. The Path Forward
  18. The Net Zero Professional