Research must help us to find the solution to GHG emissions from electricity generation. Given the current technologies and the growth rate of the developing countries (based mostly on coal), we need new technologies that when ready can be implemented as government policies.
We strongly recommend increasing the research grants for global warming with emphasis on solutions. Therefore, the federal government should allocate special research funds for short term solutions to GHG. It should not come at the expense of other research grants. A balance must be kept between long term scientific research and applied science research. In the last decade, federal support for research in general has declined – it is a danger for the future of the nation.
What do we need?
- Economical way to capture CO2 and other GHG from fossil fuel based power stations (and especially coal). It must be cheap or the developing world will not implement it and we will not achieve the desired impact. Special attention should be given to two directions:
- CO2 sequestration — finding ways to capture and store CO2 for 15-50 years until we develop a better technology for using it, then it could become a resource. It is a temporary measure that bypasses the problem giving us time to develop better solutions in the future.
- CO2 use — Finding ways to capture and use the CO2 emitted from power plants without storing it. This is the preferred solution if we can find one.
- Meat production — Find a way so cows will not produce methane or find a way to capture it. It is the third largest source of GHG after transportation and electricity generation. World meat production is expected to double by 2050. It also means double the amount of Methane.
- Geothermal — We need to spend more on geothermal research in order to reduce the implementation risks and produce the scientists needed by the industry. EGS research has a lot of promise. New drilling technology may solve a critical bottleneck. The current R&D budget except for EGS is negligible, we need substantial research budget. If EGS is successful, it has an enormous potential.
- Improve the electricity grid – materials, components and algorithms. It is a critical component of our future energy competitiveness. We can lead the way and create a new industry.
- Large (1gwh) energy storage – to expand wind and solar. It is the missing element for mass implementation of interminable renewable energy sources.
- Safer Nuclear — Technologies that will use more of the radioactive materials and/or will be easier to handle the waste (for example – Thorium reactor). The main focus should be nuclear reactors that cannot be used to produce a bomb. This will allow worldwide proliferation and replace coal as the main electrical fuel.
- Energy efficient material manufacturing (e.g., concrete and aluminum). 10% of U.S. electricity consumption is spent on aluminum production. Finding a replacement or improving the efficiency of the process will have a significant effect.
- Research global warming. Does it continue? At what pace? What are its causes? What will the impact be? On what time line? One important question — accurate forecast of the rise of the oceans. We should change our building codes and plan accordingly. One of the most important questions — finding the “missing sink” — 30% of the CO2 emitted is absorbed in a way we have yet to understand. This is based on the scientific community agreement that global warming is happening and it is caused by GHG. Since the cost of eliminating GHG is so large, we need to make sure that we are actually fighting the problem and its cause according to a realistic schedule.
- Adaptation to global warming. We have to get ready also for the possibility that we will not succeed in our efforts to stop climate change. How can we best adapt? The prudent thing to do is to prepare for all eventualities. The Dutch are leaders in this area.