How To Achieve Step-By-Step Energy Transition
The energy sector is making a global effort to move away from the use of fossil fuels, instead turning towards a future of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy, ahead of the 2050 net zero deadline. However, there is still a lot to be done in order to hit this target.
One of humankind’s greatest challenges
The UN has admitted that the world is currently not on track to hit these targets, stating that transitioning to net-zero is one of the ‘greatest challenges humankind is facing’. It stated that new, stronger, commitments are needed from governments and private companies to meet the 2050 deadline.
For many, ripping and replacing existing energy sources is unrealistic. The challenge to achieve net-zero is a big one and unless there is a step-by-step process that allows governments and companies to make real strides towards a net zero future, whilst providing a halfway house, there could be a danger that heads will remain in the sand.
Minerals and mining are required for a renewable energy future
A renewable energy future does not mean one without the need for minerals and mining and this is a fact that is often overlooked. The demand for renewable energy means that more minerals will in fact be needed. Therefore, there will be a requirement for current technology solutions that collect minerals to remain in some form. Also, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) believes that carbon capture, usage and storage can play a strategic role in global decarbonisation and can offer the most cost-effective option for many regions. These carbon reduction targets will mean an increased need for carbon capture and storage.
According to the LSE report, any CO2 leakage could lead to environmental damage that reverses emissions savings. Drilling technology that already has carbon capture and storage capabilities will be crucial for the energy sector.
The 2050 net-zero deadline does not mean the end of oil and gas. In fact they will make up as much as 20 percent of current levels. In order to make substantial changes to the way we use and gather energy, oil and gas will be very much needed to power the solutions that do this.
Drilling will also remain in some form, although with a different focus. Companies that currently supply innovative solutions to the oil and gas drilling sector will be integral in helping to move the sector forward through the use of geothermal, mining and underground storage.
Recycling current energy technology to reduce costs
Cost is one of the main issues of the energy transition. Companies assume that current technologies will need to be completely replaced to hit targets, when actually current technology and solutions used within the energy sector are crucial for a net-zero future.
Specialist drilling technology can reduce the cost of drilling wells for carbon storage, geothermal and mining. Technology currently utilised in the oil and gas sector will also be vital for containing hydrogen.
Geothermal energy could help to create electricity. The difficulty lies in creating and maintaining the extraordinarily high-temperatures that are needed to produce it, thus making it financially impossible. Current high-temperature electronics used in the oil and gas industry can be used for geothermal wells. This helps to reduce additional investment, whilst allowing companies to use this ‘cleaner’ method of creating electricity.
Overall, the oil and gas sector is able to ‘recycle’ current technology to help with the energy transition. Even though this seems counter-intuitive, it actually makes a great deal of sense. Indeed, technology providers to the sector are very much part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
The key to success is collaboration
Oil and gas will remain critical in a net-zero world, indeed the innovative technology will be crucial in allowing the sector and world to move towards a more sustainable future. The latest research all points to governments and organisations not making enough progress ahead of the 2050 deadline. However, this is not a quick fix, the energy mix will change over time, but it is not the right approach to do away with current methods just because they are associated with oil and gas.
Collaboration will be crucial in order to hit deadlines a create a ‘cleaner’ environment. Current technologies and solutions are key to moving the sector forward, reducing costs and ensuring that new methods of creating energy can be brought on board and quickly utilised to create a more sustainable future.
Author: Toni Miszewski
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