Solar shows promise for other applications key to zero carbon
While much of the discussion around renewable energy focuses on the production of electricity, other sources of carbon emissions must also be addressed to meet the world’s climate goals. Renewables, and solar in particular, have roles to play there as well. According to a recent article in the MITSloan Management Review and a companion paper, more than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from heavy transport and from industrial heat.
In heavy transport (trucks, ships, airplanes, trains & busses), trains and busses can be fairly easily electrified. Long-range trucks, ships and airplanes not so much. Green hydrogen offers enormous potential as a clean, mobile fuel, but this will require a huge increase in global hydrogen production, and most of today’s hydrogen is not green. It is produced by processes that are often powered by fossil fuels and that produce CO2 as a byproduct. Large-scale electrolysis, powered by round-the-clock clean power solutions like 247Solar Plants™, offers the promise of industrial scale production of zero-carbon hydrogen for the first time.
The industrial heat required to produce iron and steel, cement, and certain chemicals (fertilizers and thermoplastics) contributes more than 17% of global emissions CO2 emissions alone. To quote the article, “Renewable electricity can efficiently deliver any desired temperature directly or via infrared, microwaves, plasmas, or hydrogen. BloombergNEF in April 2021 expected solar power in 2050 to be 40% cheaper than estimated two years earlier, making solar- or wind-electric hydrogen remarkably competitive in most markets by 2030 … Alternatively, solar-heated air at 900 ̊C –1,000 ̊C has been demonstrated … and high-temperature solar heat with overnight storage like 247Solar’s should compete with 24/7 coal or gas heat.”
There’s much more in this excellent and wider ranging discussion from Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Institute. Read it here.
NEW FORECAST: CSP IS BACK!
Despite clear advantages over other clean power generation technologies, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) has developed a reputation as the black sheep of the renewables family. Until recently, CSP was only economical at very large scale. Each project was different and required lots of custom engineering, land, time, and money to build.
Today, new modular, factory-built CSP solutions like our 247SolarPlants™ are making the unique benefits of CSP and long-duration thermal storage — clean power that lasts through the night — available to a wider variety of projects than ever before.
A recent forecast from ReThink Energy shows how CSP is poised for dramatic growth in the coming decade. The table at right and the region-by-region bullet points below summarize their findings. The future is bright!