Last month the founder of Microsoft gave a speech on low carbon energy and climate change at TED, a renowned event on Technology, Entertainment and Design.
To him, we need 20 years to research on the needed breakthroughs to achieve zero emissions energy sources and twenty other years to apply them. I beg to differ on this.
Indeed we ALREADY have sufficient technologies to achieve near-zero emissions.
(I believe we will NEVER reach truly zero emissions energy sources. However we have sources that can emit less than 50 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh when coal emits a kilogram of CO2 equivalent for the same amount of electricity. Yes, that’s twenty times less, No, it is not truly zero emission…)
Even if current nuclear reactors and renewable energies solutions aren’t perfect, they are still good enough to be implemented massively.
It is worth noting that we will also have to work massively on energy efficiency, a topic that isn’t tackled by Mr. Gates.
I believe two tiny decades to change all our energy plants and so on is far too short a period. The four decades we currently have in front of us will even hardly be enough.
So yes, we can – and we have to – invest in R&D on TerraPower and the likes, but no we can’t wait for another twenty years to implement low carbon solutions.
France and Sweden already achieved low carbon electricity by having massive nuclear AND renewable energies capacity. This is why the anti-nuclear crowd is wrong : nuclear may not be the answer, but as Gates notes it is needed to achieve a low carbon future.
To conclude, I propose you the video :