COP21, the decarbonisation of global energy has begun
11 December 2015
Why “decarbonise” global energy?
The 20th century saw global temperatures increased by 0.9 ° C and in the past 30 years this trend has accelerated.
This has resulted in major and dramatic changes: undesirable changes in ecosystems: species extinction, appearance of exotic species and viruses such as Lyme disease; increased frequency of severe weather events: storms, hurricanes, floods and intense heat waves, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, melting glaciers and depletion of water sources etc…
Some climate skeptics explain this rise in temperatures by increased solar radiation, but recent research shows that the sun has been stable for 30 years, while temperatures continue to rise.
In parallel, global energy consumption continues to grow. It has more than doubled between 1973 and 2012 and according to the International Energy Agency, it continues to increase.
Over 80% of the energy consumed in the world comes from ‘carbon’ fossil fuels: oil, coal, and natural gas that emit a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere when used.
It has been proven beyond a doubt that CO2 is a major greenhouse gas. The greenhouse gases, which also include methane, trap the sun’s rays in the atmosphere and warm it. The accumulation of CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activities since the industrial era is responsible for this significant 0.9 ° C increase in temperature since 1906.
The different prediction models of the GIEC (Expert Group on Climate Change) predict different warming scenarios for the 21st century, the most optimistic being global warming of 1.5 ° C by 2100 (if we were to conduct a worldwide green technological shift): the worst case scenario being an increase of more than 4 ° C in global temperature by 2100 (if we were to maintain our pace of CO2 emission into the atmosphere). The effects of the global temperature rise for the 21st century (2 ° C and 4 ° C) would therefore be more intense and dramatic than what we have seen in the 20th century, with what was a warming of ‘only’ 0.9 ° C.
The COP21 to limit global warming
The COP is an annual conference that brings together all members of the UN countries to counter the increase in global temperature. This year it is being held in Paris and aims to approve an agreement as historic as the one that was signed in Kyoto in 1997. The goal is to make an action plan to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C for the 21st Century.
The main obstacles to the negotiations at the COP21 in Paris are related mainly to the tension between the member countries and emerging markets in growing economies like China, Brazil, India and South Africa. They demand more technological transfer and bank funds in order to be able to follow any emission restrictions that could be imposed with the issuance of such an agreement.
Negotiations began November 30, 2015 and are expected to end Saturday, December 12 with what will perhaps be a historic agreement.
Industry: nearly a third of the world’s energy consumption
At the COP21 in Paris, Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the UN, called on companies to fight against global warming by limiting their consumption of fossil fuels and turning to clean energy (le devoir, December 9 2015).
Industry consumes almost a third of global energy. It is produced mainly using fossil fuels that release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Moreover, in the industrial world, 60-70% of the energy is spent generating thermal energy: heating buildings, heating tanks and various equipment, mechanical power systems operating from steam, heat processes…
The parabolic solar concentration (CSP) could be one of the solutions for the industrial world. This new solar thermal technology developed by Rackam produces “clean” heat; which will be highly valued in the coming years and will help limit global warming.
A good example is that of the solar thermal plant in Kingsey Falls built for Cascades in 2014 by Rackam. Cascades has saved nearly 130 000 m3 of natural gas per year, in addition to helping earn them an Environmental Excellence Award in 2015 (Envirolys).
In addition, grant programs in the world will help make new solar technologies more accessible in the coming years. In Quebec, Rackam has very recently received a Technoclimat grant of about $ 400,000 for the construction of a solar installation at the Alouette building in Sept-Îles.
Finally, a global Carbone grant is beginning to emerge. In Quebec, since 2013, industrial companies and those in electricity generation that emit more than the equivalent of 25,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year are subject to it. The cap system and greenhouse gas emission rights of Quebec (SPEDE) is now linked to California’s and will soon be connected to Ontario’s. These measures promote business investment in innovative technologies such as the solar thermal concentration processes developed by Rackam.