Energy policy and climate change

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  • Energy Policy 31 (2003) 155166

    Energy policy and climate change

    Philippe Jean-Baptistea,*, Ren!e Ducrouxb

    aLaboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de lEnvironnement, CEA-CNRS, CE Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, FrancebCentre dInitiative et de Recherche sur lEnergie et lEnvironnement, CIRENE, Palaiseau, France

    Abstract

    The problem of massive emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels and their climatic impact have become

    major scientic and political issues. Future stabilization of the atmospheric CO2 content requires a drastic decrease of CO2 emissions

    worldwide. Energy savings and carbon sequestration, including CO2 capture/storage and enhancement of natural carbon sinks, can

    be highly benecial, although it is suggested that both economic and climatic feedbacks could nullify part of the gains achieved.

    Fossil fuels (coupled with CO2 capture), and lower-carbon hydrogenated fuels such as natural gas are still expected to play an

    important role in the future. Nevertheless, stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentration in a growing world economy, now dependent

    on fossil fuels for 85% of its energy, will also require a vast increase in the supply of carbon-free power. Among these energy sources,

    hydropower and nuclear energy (operated under western safety and environmental standards) are the most readily available sources

    capable of supplying vast amount of energy at a competitive price. Wind power is also to be encouraged, as it is expected to

    approach the competitiveness threshold soon. The French example, where fossil fuel CO2 emissions were cut by 27% in a matter of a

    few years (19791986) despite increasing energy consumption, suggests that implementing CO2 stabilization is technically feasible at

    a competitive price. r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: CO2 emission; Climate change; Energy mix

    1. Introduction

    Humanity has been faced with a lack of energy fromtime immemorial. The chief mobilizable energy sources,with very limited yields, were animal traction, windenergy (windmills, sailing ships), low energy hydro-power (watermills) and biomass (mainly for homerequirements). Only in the last two centuries, thanksto scientic progress, has the energy constraint progres-sively loosened, with the possibility of drawing frommore concentrated energy sources including coal, oil,gas, and uranium. This revolution has sparked unpre-cedented economic development (Fig. 1). However,energy production and consumption have undeniableenvironmental repercussions. The environmental da-mages linked to the production, transformation, trans-port and use of different energy sources have beensubstantial in the past and are still far from negligible.The coal mining industry has exacted a heavy price frompast generations (mine accidents, occupational diseases,

    site degradations, extensive atmospheric pollution, acidrain, etc.). The energy sector has also been subject tomajor catastrophes which have marked its history: oilslicks (Amoco Cadiz, Exxon Valdez, Erika, etc.),rupture of pipelines or well heads, hydro-electric damfailures, nuclear accidents (Tchernobyl), etc. The controlof the environmental impact of the various energysystems in terms of emissions, wastes and perturbationof ecosystems, under normal or accident operatingconditions is hence a major issue. In this respect, theemission of carbon dioxide (CO2) due to the use of fossilfuels (coal, gas, and oil) poses a specic problem.

    2. Climate risk and the new energy situation

    Although it has been known for more than a century(Arrhenius, 1896), the possibility of climate warmingassociated with the combustion of fossil energies hasonly focused attention in the last ten years, sincescientists demonstrated the rst tangible effect of thiswarming (Fig. 2) and alerted public opinion and thegovernments about the risks of a climatic upheaval(IPCC, 1996a; IPCC, 2001).

    *Corresponding author. Tel.: +33-31-6908-7714; fax: +33-31-6908-

    7716.

    E-mail addresses: pjb@lsce.saclay.cea.fr (P. Jean-Baptiste), re-

    ndx@europost.org (R. Ducroux).

    0301-4215/03/$ - see front matter r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    PII: S 0 3 0 1 - 4 2 1 5 ( 0 2 ) 0 0 0 2 0 - 4

  • The issue of global warming is becoming a major andunavoidable element of world energy policy. Today,about 29 billion tonnes of CO2 are released into the airannually by human activities, including 23 billion fromfossil fuel burning and industry (IPCC, 2001), causing arapid and disturbing increase in its atmosphericconcentration (Fig. 3)The United Nations Convention on Climate Change,

    signed in 1992, followed by the Kyoto conference(December 1997), marked the rst step towards aninternational determination to limit releases of green-house gases (especially CO2, CH4 and N2O). However,the implementation of an international agreement onlimiting these releases is a complex matter, with majorgeopolitical and economic implications, given the factthat:

    * World energy needs are steadily rising, driven bygrowth, demography and the economic developmentof the third World (Fig. 4),

    * 85% of these needs are currently supplied by fossilfuel (coal, gas, and oil) which generates CO2 (Fig. 5),

    * forecasts for CO2 releases, if nothing is done to limitthem, will exceed 50 billion tonnes/yr in 2050, twiceas much as today (scenario IS92a Business AsUsualFIPCC, 1996a), and

    * a stabilization of the CO2 content of the air at about550 ppm (a target considered acceptable by mostscientists) will, on the contrary, require releases to behalved from todays level (IPCC, 2001).

    Answers are available from the energy and industrysectors for meeting this planetary challenge. They relyon three main factors:

    1. Energy conservation: improved energy efciency andthe rational use of energy.

    2. Carbon waste management: development of techni-ques for the capture and geological storage of CO2(DOE, 1999).

    3. Evolution of the energy mix: replacement of highcarbon fuels (coal, oil) by lower carbon contenthydrogenated fuels (natural gas), and greater relianceon non-CO2 emitting energies like hydropower,nuclear, wind, biomass or solar.

    3. Energy conservation

    The apparent present abundance of fossil and ssileenergies should not obscure the fact that over the longterm, these energies are not an inexhaustible resource.Man is obliged to improve exploration and productiontechniques ceaselessly to reach new deposits and therebyoffset the progressive depletion of world reserves(Fig. 6). Therefore, the need for energy conservation isnot only important for lowering CO2 release, it is alsoindispensable to:

    * guarantee the relative permanence of energy re-sources over the long term,

    * facilitate access to the developing countries, whosefuture needs are large, and

    * preserve the environment and the quality of life offuture generations

    This rational approach includes improving the ef-ciencies of energy production and utilization systems, astop to waste, and the optimum use of the differentenergy sources in accordance with their respectiveadvantages. Furthermore, pioneering research must bemaintained so that new energy systems and new energysources can be mobilized for the future.Access of the masses to energy, an important factor in

    comfort and the quality of life, is a universal right. Thelimitation of energy consumption by rationing or byprice increases (rationing via money) therefore runs intoa problem of social acceptability (witness the widespreadopposition to higher prices of motor fuels). Yet this doesnot mean, far from it, that energy conservation cannotbe achieved. Large potentials still exist in improving theperformance of mass consumption equipment (homeappliances, lighting), road transport, and thermalinsulation in buildings. The experience of the pastfteen years has nonetheless shown us that once the oilshock has been forgotten, our fellow citizens do notspontaneously make waste reduction their favoriteactivity. The introduction of new standards withmanufacturers covering the energy consumption oftheir products has emerged to be the most effectivemeans to obtain quantiable energy savings. Equivalent

    1850 1900 1950 2000

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    Fig. 1. World energy consumption and Gross Domestic Product (in

    1990 US$) from 1850 to 2000. Sources: Casanova (1968), CEPII

    (2001), BP Amoco (1999), World Energy Council (2000).

    P. Jean-Baptiste, R. Ducroux / Energy Policy 31 (2003) 155166156

  • economies are anticipated in the tertiary sector forlighting, heating and air-conditioning installations, andin the industrial sector, through improvements tomanufacturing processes. At the other end of the chain,reliance on more efcient energy production processesand the development of cogeneration (electricity gen-eration and heat recovery) also represent a signicantpotential for economies (Fig. 7). According to ADEME(the French Environment and Energy ConservationAgency), the development of more efcient technologiestends to suggest by 2050 a drop of consumption inFrance of 5 TWh/yr for home appliances, 8 TWh/yr forwashing equipment and 10TWh/yr for lighting, makinga total of 23TWh, a gure to be compared with the513TWh of annual gross power generation in France(CEA, 1999). However, these economies will have a

    limited impact on French CO2 emissions since 92% ofthe electricity production is supplied by non-fossil fuels(nuclear and hydro-electricity) (CEA, 1999).Yet in terms of energy conservation, experience shows

    the difculty of making reliable forecasts, especially inperiods of economic growth. Overoptimism would be amistake. In fact, the additional purchasing powerassociated with economic and energy efciency gener-ates additional growth and adds new needs: acquisitionof new appliances by households, increased transporta-tion associated with leisure activities etc., which cannullify all or part of the gains achieved (Fig. 8).These two antagonistic trends, improving energy

    efciency on the one hand, and industrial dynamics onthe other, driven to place new equipment and services onthe market, explain why, including in developed

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    Fig. 2. (a) Mean temperature of the globe (14002000). Source: IPCC (2001). (b) Arctic sea ice area (19752000). Source: Johannessen et al. (1999).

    (c) Long-term series of cumulative volume changes for selected glaciers (data relative to 1890 in equivalent water level). Source: Dyurgerov and Meier

    (2000). (d) Rise in sea level (18002000). Source: IPCC (2001).

    P. Jean-Baptiste, R. Ducroux / Energy Policy 31 (2003) 155166 157

  • countries like France, all the scenarios foresee higherenergy consumption (Fig. 9).

    4. Carbon waste management

    In most industrialized countries, industries are subjectto strict standards covering releases and waste manage-ment. Paradoxically, the fossil energy sector escapes thisbasic rule concerning CO2, which is entirely releasedinto the environment. Thus one solution which would beboth logical and effective would be to encourage thelarge industries (coal, fuel oil and gas red power plants,

    cement plants), which account for about 30% of worldCO2 emissions (IPCC, 1996b), to install recoverysystems, just as they have done in the past for sulfurreleases. Technical systems already exist, which areemployed on a small scale to produce CO2 for industrialuse. The average cost of CO2 capture, using state-of-theart technologies, is estimated at 2550$/tonne of CO2according to the type of installation (Beecy et al., 2000;David and Herzog, 2000). Research and development isneeded to design more efcient systems capable ofcapturing CO2 from large power plants with 8090%efciency, at a target price not exceeding 10$/tonne.The problem of the long term storage of CO2 thus

    recovered is more complex, given the huge volumesinvolved. The most satisfactory solutions from theenvironmental standpoint are the transport of the CO2by pipeline and its injection into deep geologicalformations like gas reservoirs and oil elds that aredepleted or nearing depletion, or deep saline aquifers.Their worldwide storage potential could amount up to10000 billion tonnes of CO2 (DOE, 1997a; Stevens andKuuskraa, 2000), or the equivalent of several hundredyears of cumulative CO2 releases. Twenty milliontonnes/year of CO2 are already injected in Americanoil elds (DOE, 1997b) for Enhanced Oil Recovery. Inthe North Sea too, the CO2 naturally present in the gasextracted from the Sleipner West Field (operated byNorways Statoil) is separated and re-injected into anaquifer 1000m below the surface. One million tonnes ofCO2 are thus stored every year at depth (Korbol andKaddour, 1995; Statoil, 2001). The transport/deepstorage cost is estimated at about 10$/tonne of CO2(Stevens and Kuuskraa, 2000). On the whole, for theelectricity sector, CO2 capture and storage means anextra cost of about 23 UScents/kWh (Beecy et al.,2000).The spread of CO2 trapping technology towards the

    major fossil energy production centers (power plants,heavy industry) thus represents a signicant potential interms of lowering releases, about several billion tonnes

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    Fig. 4. Present disparity in per capita energy consumption by country.

    Source: BP Amoco (1999).

    gas22.5%

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    nuclear + hydro + renew able

    14.7%

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    Fig. 5. Energy consumption of commercial energy sources. Sources:

    BP Amoco (1999), IEA (2001).

    P. Jean-Baptiste, R. Ducroux / Energy Policy 31 (2003) 155166158

  • of CO2/yr. Considering the present 85% share of theworld energy supplied by fossil fuels, and knowing thetime needed for new energy systems to penetrate to theirmarket potential, capturing and sequestering CO2appears as an efcient response to the CO2 problem.Moreover, in the long term, CO2 sequestration willallow us to keep on exploiting the large coal and natural

    gas reserves that represents a substantial share of theworld available energy resources.These capture technologies can be coupled with a

    policy aimed at enhancing natural carbon sinks.Ecosystems naturally participate in trapping CO2. Ofthe 29 billion tonnes emitted every year, only 40%remains in the atmosphere. The other 60% is absorbedby the ocean and onshore vegetation (IPCC, 2001). Onemeans to reduce the impact of CO2 releases wouldaccordingly be to favor the...

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