Global warming has been among the most discussed topics in the past decade owing to repercussions being witnessed across the world in form of rising temperature and increase in sea level. These factors have resulted in the Paris Agreement which is the first-ever legal global climate change agreement signed in December 2015 by around 190 parties.

Most of the countries around the world are taking significant steps to limit their carbon footprint. For instance, European Union and countries such as Japan and South Korea have pledged to attain net-zero emissions till 2050 whereas China has pledged to attain the same till 2060. Countries around the world are now concentrating their efforts to build a viable strategy to achieve net-zero emissions through a mix of available and emerging technologies.
Net-zero implies that no new emissions are being added to our atmosphere. Under this scenario, emissions will continue in the world but they will be balanced by the use of various technologies to absorb an equivalent amount of carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

Let us look at the currently available technologies which can be utilized to attain net zero in the future.

Renewable Energy Generation

Power generation from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and other sources provide 100% emission-free electricity. Hydro power has been among the conventionally utilized renewable power source. However, the rise in deployment of solar and wind power has witnessed in the last decade with supporting policies, regulations, and economies of scale in components manufacturing. 

The integration of battery storage with solar and wind power makes them capable to supply round the clock power. Ongoing research & development in the field of renewable power generation is expected to reduce their cost further. These developments will make renewable power generation as one of the major technology which countries around the world would continue to opt to reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

It is a process in which carbon dioxide is captured from emissions sources such as coal-based power plants and industrial end-users. Captured carbon dioxide can either be reused or it can be stored in geologic formations such as oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline reservoirs. Since the 1970s the U.S. has been utilizing captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery application in the oil & gas field.


This technology provides the advantage to directly capture carbon emissions at the source which provides a better solution for limiting emissions directly from the source itself. However, the cost of CCS projects is significantly higher but with joint collaboration and planning it can be reduced and can be made viable. For instance, Equinor, Shell, and Total have collaborated to build the world’s first carbon capture and storage network under the Northern Lights project.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a type of zero-carbon fuel when burned with oxygen provides energy and releases water vapor. Hydrogen is conventionally utilized in applications such as petroleum refining, methanol, and ammonia production. Further, hydrogen application in form of fuel cells is emerging in transportation and power generation application as it provides a zero-emission solution option.

Currently, the majority of the hydrogen is generated through technologies such as steam methane reforming or coal gasification. Both of these technologies emit a significant amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. However, hydrogen when generated through electrolysis by utilizing renewable power provides emission-free hydrogen. European Commission under its hydrogen strategy launched in 2020 has aimed to install 6 GW and 40 GW of renewable-based hydrogen electrolyzers by 2024 and 2030 respectively.

Biofuel

Fuels that are derived from sources such as plants, algae material, or animal wastes are termed biofuels. Bioethanol and biodiesel are the most commonly used first-generation biofuels. Biofuels provide a viable option to the transportation sector for limiting carbon emissions. Currently, a number of blends of bioethanol and biodiesel are done with gasoline and diesel respectively for utilization in automobiles.


Ongoing research & developments will aid in the development and adoption of automobiles that are capable of running on 100% bioethanol or biodiesel in the future. Further, biofuel adoption has been started in the aviation sector as a step taken by companies to limit their carbon emissions. For instance, till 2020, International Airlines Group had invested around USD 400 million in Velocys for the conversion of waste into sustainable aviation fuel.

Way Forward

To attain net-zero it is the duty of governments around the world to draft their individual strategy as per the geographical and industrial nature of the country by using a mix of the above-mentioned technologies. Further, the government needs to encourage carbon emitters to opt for low carbon-intensive technologies and to take steps to reduce or prevent carbon emissions from existing facilities.

Further, industrial players also need to provide support to the government in terms of planning and for research & development activities. Since collaborative efforts from all the stakeholders such as the government, research institutes, industry players, and end-users can lead to achieving the net-zero goal in the future.

 

About the Author

Parth Pandit Photo

Parth is working as a Research Analyst at Grand View Research as part of the Energy & Power Team. Skills acquired from business research in his current and previous firm has enabled him with the abilities to provide market insights by analyzing ongoing developments and understand customer requirements and provide tailor-made solutions.
He has a professional experience of more than 3 years in market research, due diligence studies, and sound knowledge of the energy & power sector. He holds a Bachelor’s in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and an MBA in Power Management.

Parth Pandit

Research Analyst at Grand View Research

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