Facing our energy future

8 Oct 2009

Taking a look at green energy from the perspective of future energy generation on a global scale, Dr Robert K Dixon, a leader of the Climate Change and Chemicals Team of the US Government’s Global Environment Facility (GEF), tackled topical issues, including the dependence on fossil fuels and the role nuclear energy plays in clean-energy options.

Dixon said that as far as the distribution of non-renewable fossil fuels goes, we live in a world of haves and have-nots, with an imbalance between oil demand and reserves.

He went on to paint the picture of our global-carbon profile: “Global CO2 emissions are rising, China overtook the US in 2007 and in spite of the attention paid to the climate change issue it continues to rise at a rapid pace.”

Dixon added that aside from CO2 emissions, there were other pollution issues and “many environmental assaults associated with the use of these fuels”.

The technology challenge, he said, is sizeable because there is no one policy that can do it all and there are different challenges in different geographic regions.

“Technology innovations are needed. An energy revolution is needed. If we’re going to reduce our carbon emissions we need to go for low-hanging fruit in the technology sector,” said Dixon.

While acknowledging it was not a popular choice, Dixon brought up the issue of nuclear-power generation and said if we were to be realistic about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels globally, it would have to figure into the equation somewhere at some point.

He also spoke about technologies and scientific advancements that made carbon capturing, both in Ireland and across the globe, an affordable possibility – something that would have been dismissed as too expensive 10 years ago.