Solar, Wind, EV’s, RNG, Hydrogen, Atomic Energy and more. Where do all of these and more fit into the carbon neutral quest?
Energy is required for basically, transportation, housing, commercial and manufacturing each with it’s own unique requirements.
Personal transportation is in a battle of Electric and oil based fuel driven vehicles. It appears electric has the upper hand due to the overwhelming advocacy for less pollutants, while oil and any others continue to lose ground. Hydrogen while making progress remains expensive to produce, but continues to intrigue as a long term solution. The lead has been taken by the Electric Vehicle which has the full backing of the federal government, the investment community and the media. There is little doubt that the automobile combustion engine will be a museum curiosity in the future. It is interesting to note that Thomas Edison patented the electric automobile more than 100 yrs ago.
The major pollution problem with commercial transportation vehicles,18 wheelers, etc is the diesel engine, beyond even so-called clean diesel the emission pollution is extreme. Electric, due to the battery size and weight is a problem for long haulers as weight is restricted on highways and bridges as the weight of the batteries lessens the amount of cargo that can be hauled. Recharging time is also problematic. RNG or Renewable Natural Gas is beginning to take a significant piece of the pie, as it has the lowest carbon footprint of any source, and actually uses methane from landfills, agriculture and dairy farms to produce RNG reducing the pollutant effect in those areas. For some reason it has not been touted by the media or moreso the government for that matter, while it continues to gain ground replacing the high pollutant diesel fuel in trucking, buses and moving equipment especially in CA. However, it remains a poor cousin as far as the public, govt and the media are concerned. Hyundai in Korea for the past decade has invested heavily on hydrogen fuel cells for cars and trucks but cell costs and fueling stations, or lack thereof so far has been difficult to overcome. Special less polluting, aircraft synthetic “E-kerosene” blended with conventional jet fuel is quickly being adapted for some airlines as is RNG for ocean vessels and railroads. None of the innovations will become the primary source overnight as the transition expense can be daunting for transportation fleets and owner operated trucks as well, however, as investment continues to embrace the technologies, the future is clear.
Housing uses Natural Gas, Wind, Solar, Electricity and Heating Oil. Oil has been replaced by NG in many locals, but still controls a major share in many areas. Electricity is a major factor in housing and has not lost any ground over the past decade as simplicity of use and relatively low cost keeps homeowners satisfied. Solar is quickly gaining in market share, but remains expensive and can be unreliable at times. Wind is by far the most expensive and it’s carbon footprint in production of the windmills is very high and has reliability problems as well. The majority of wind and solar systems require various backup power sources which add to the costs. However, in FL just east of Naples an entire city is under construction being totally powered by renewable energy mostly solar. FL known as the sunshine state the city so far, appears to be functioning as promised. Natural Gas while plentiful and relatively cheap has an image problem. Of course Atomic Energy has it’s own unique stigma. Hydroelectric dams continue to supply electricity to a large swath of territory in the west but major population and agricultural growth continue to put stress on the rivers. It will be interesting to see the future results in this very competitive, fragmented and critical battle.
Manufacturing and commercial businesses have a myriad of sources and requirements depending on size and type of business, is too complex to present in a few paragraphs.