What is the future for energy?
Friday, 27 August 2004
Alternative energies such as solar and wind power are not alleviating our current dependence on fossil fuels, according to a leading University of Adelaide researcher.
Professor Stephen Lincoln, a Professor in Chemistry at the University of Adelaide, says he believes fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source for at least the next 20 years. He will discuss his views on energy at a seminar at the University on Monday (August 30).
"As recently as 2001, the energy supplied by geothermal, solar, wind, tidal and wave power only supplied 0.5% of world energy," Professor Lincoln says.
"These forms of energy are undoubtedly attractive because of their 'clean' nature, but are unlikely to grow greatly in total energy percentage terms in the next 20 years.
"Fossil fuels are the dominant energy source and will be for at least the next two decades, because they are still in plentiful supply, are relatively inexpensive to produce energy from and the energy produced from fossil fuels far outweighs the energy expended in producing it."
The downside to our reliance on fossil fuels, says Professor Lincoln, is that global warming will continue - although legislation and new methods of limiting carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere will slow the rate of global warming.
"We are starting to see the development of techniques for storing carbon dioxide and burying it underground or in the deep ocean, and I predict that this will increase as these techniques become more refined," Professor Lincoln says.
"I think in addition to trapping carbon dioxide, the only genuine alternatives to fossil fuels are nuclear power, which presently supplies 17% of global electricity and could be expanded, biomass and hydroelectricity.
"Certainly in the next 20 years they will only be complementary energy forms to our overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels. I think our challenge in the next generation will be to find ways of limiting the amount of energy used to produce energy, while keeping the price of energy as low as possible."
WHAT: "Global Warming, Fossil Fuels and Future Energy" seminar by Professor Stephen Lincoln (School of Chemistry and Physics) as part of University of Adelaide School of Economics seminar series
WHERE: Room LG14, Lower Ground Floor, Napier Building, North Terrace Campus
WHEN: 1pm Monday, August 30
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