The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization VI

The Role of Technology Roadmaps and Roundtables

To conclude this lecture, I want us to spend a bit of time discussing the mechanisms that could ensure the timely deployment at scale of some of the technologies we reviewed, but also the many others we did not have time to talk about, but which are also critical to the success of deep decarbonization strategies in our economies.

661Some skeptics try to discredit climate change mitigation efforts by saying that this is against progress, that this is an anti-technological innovation agenda that we’re trying to impose limits to growth, that we’re trying to limit the right to development.

The truth is I’m not even sure if they’re convinced by their own arguments. What is sure is that they’re often made by the incumbents of the fossil fuel economy and it’s probably not randomly, because they have a biased interest in more of the same technological innovation. I hope I’ve managed to convince you that climate change mitigation is certainly not an anti-technological innovation agenda. In fact, achieving deep decarbonization is a formidable technological challenge and one that will require years of sustained efforts to develop and demonstrate these breakthrough new low carbon technologies.

But what is very true is that we don’t need just any kind of technological innovation. We don’t need new sophisticated technologies to explore always deeper fossil fuel resources and new technologies to drill under the Artic. What we need is directed and accelerated technological change. Directed first because we need technological innovation and human creativity to confront to the challenge of human induced climate change and find solution, not further add to the problem.

And accelerated technological change because we have a very tight timeline to avoid the dangerous effects from human induced climate change whose effects are irreversible. So we need these critical low carbon technologies to become available quickly and to be rapidly deployed at scale.

There are pretty good reasons to believe that the necessary technologies for deep decarbonization are within reach, from an engineering and a cost standpoint. But their commercial readiness needs to be accelerated by providing the adequate policy support and also by building the necessary public and private partners. Effective global strategies for a deep decarbonization must include strategies for promoting actively the development and the diffusion of these low carbon technology.

What is interesting is that there is a great deal we can learn from the previous successful attempts to drive technological innovation in a particular direction. All these previous successful attempts share a number of important characteristics.

  • First, clear goals and timelines for technology performance were set.
  • Second, public and private actors were organized around the development of long-term technology road maps.
  • Third, the industry both competed but also cooperated to identify the promising lines of inquiry and demonstration of these technologies.
  • Four, grants were sometimes issued on a always highly competitive basis.
  • And five, and quite importantly the intellectual property of these new technology was frequently shared or at least open-source in between the different participants to the research and development efforts.

There is one element in particular I want to stress because I think it is of high relevance when we’re talking about low carbon energy innovation. It is that technology road maps and technology round tables can play a key role in driving oriented technological innovation.

They could play a key role because they could complement the more market based instruments for the transition to a low carbon economy such as putting a price on carbon through a carbon tax, or an emission permit system, or implementing all different types of regulations.

It, it’s very important that you don’t confuse these technology road maps with rigid, central planning, because this is really not what this is about. It’s very important that a technological innovation process be adaptive. It’s very important that it does not preclude any promising technology from playing an active role in future mitigation efforts.

We need to leave room for new discoveries. And therefore the goals that are set in these technology road maps should be frequently revised. They need to take into account the new developments from science, the lessons learned from the previous faces of discussions in these technology round tables.

So it’s really not an exercise to pick the winning technologies for a deep decarbonization, because eventually the market will have to reveal which are the lowest cost option. But you should look at this process of technology road maps and round tables as an essential process to make sure the market has enough winners to pick from eventually.

These technology road maps have been used successfully in, in many technology eras, including a very successful one, the semiconductor industry, but also in genetics. And they were used to identify the priorities for research and, and development. It’s really true that these road maps help mobilize and organize the public and private stakeholders and expert communities around the definition of shared priorities and, and really help insuring the effective use of, of scarce unfortunately, resources for research. So they will also really be a key tool in driving directed technological innovation for the low carbon technologies.

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization V

Electric Vehicles and Advanced Biofuels

Here I want to introduce to the debate some of the key low carbon technologies in the transport sector, because so far in the previous chapters we’ve been discussing mostly about promising new technologies in the power sector.

We’ve been discussing about smart grids and energy storage to operate power systems with high penetration of intermittent renewable energies such as solar or wind. We’ve been discussing about carbon capture and sequestration. We’ve been discussing about fourth generation nuclear reactors.

So mainly technologies for the power sectors. Although that’s not completely true, because carbon capture and sequestration, although its main market in the future might well be in the power sector could also and very importantly be used in industry, in the carbon intensive industries such as cement or steel for example.

652But as we saw when we were analyzing the results of the global mitigation scenario in the previous lecture, the decarbonization of the transport fleet is also absolutely fundamental to achieve emissions, reductions, levels consistent with the 2-degree limit. So it must start with the decarbonization of personal vehicles, but it must also extend to the Decarbonization of the heavy-duty vehicles, the decarbonization of aviation and also of ocean shipping.

So how can we do that? What are the options that are available to reduce emissions in the transport sector? Well there is a very wide range of cutting edge technology that hold great potential to decarbonize much or all of the transport sector. Which are the options? It includes in particular, high performance batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or advanced biofuels or even synthesized fuels. But the truth is that most of these low carbon technologies for transport are still pre-commercial or at least they’re not yet deployed at a very large scale.

Electric vehicles in particular offer great potential, especially for the private vehicles, but also for buses and even some say, possibly for trucks. But it’s important to underline here that electric vehicles can only be considered as a genuine low carbon solution for transport if electricity is produced by using low carbon energy sources.

This is why it’s so important to design comprehensive, deep Decarbonization strategies within the framework of the three pillars we have introduced. The electrification of energy consumption, in particular electrification of the transport sector must be combined with the shift to the low carbon electricity in the power sector.

651Most electric vehicles today use lithium batteries. And the performance of these batteries has already made great improvements in the recent past and it is expected to improve even further. Although the performance of that particular type of batteries, the lithium batteries is expected to improve only incrementally. But the good news is that we have many other option for electric vehicle batteries. They will be required to achieve higher energy and power density, lengthen the vehicle range and lower the upfront vehicle costs but there are many development programs currently underway.

I should stress that lengthening the vehicle range in particular is really critical to the success and the large-scale deployment of electric vehicles in the future because it would make sure that electric vehicles can be used for all sorts of purposes and not only for the short distance travels that we do within our cities.

It’s also important to understand that theuptake of electric vehicles is also limited today by the lack of infrastructure to charge the batteries of these vehicles. So to insure the large-scale deployment of these electric vehicles in the future, the infrastructure will also have to be built and not only the technology of the vehicles be improved and the, the network of the charging stations will have to be expanded insure the success and uptake of electric vehicles.

It will most likely require public-private partnerships with cities and local authorities in particular playing an important role together of course with car manufacturers and electricity companies. They should strike these partnerships to share the payment of the upfront investment costs of building this infrastructure network.

So that was for, I mean one of the most promising option of reducing emissions in the transport sector through the electrification of biofuels. There is another option potentially which is the use of biofuels. And especially liquid biofuels. They’re interesting because they offer the prospect of decarbonization of the transport sector together with the continued use of the existing infrastructure and technologies, including the internal combustion engines, but also the oil pipeline and the gas station pumps we have already built. So the fact that they use, they would use the existing infrastructure is of course a, a very big asset in favor of the biofuels.

But the truth is that the biofuels also have a very clear downside unfortunately. Or at least some of them have. Because many of the existing biofuels such as a maize based ethanol produced in the U.S. compete with other critical land uses such as food production or ecosystem needs like land and water utilization.

So it’s a serious concern. There is potentially a solution to this problem, a response to this concern and it lies in the, the development of a new generation of advanced biofuels and, who precisely aim to overcome the issue of the competition in between the biofuels, the food production and the other important ecosystem services.

There are many different types of advanced biofuels that are currently under development. Let me mention just a few. Again, it’s not a comprehensive list, but you can think of the bioengineered organism such algae or bacteria used to produce biofuels. Another example is the processing of non-foodstuff from non-arable land into biofuels and, such as cellulosic biofuels produced from wood products. And there are even efforts to produce fuels directly from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide without using any biological organisms, a process which we call artificial photosynthesis. Although it is still at an early stage of research and focuses on, primarily on producing hydrogen.

But overall and to conclude this chapter on the most important technologies in the transport sector, it’s really important that we would further, and I would say, harder on the research, development and demonstration of these next generation biofuels to make really sure their large-scale use doesn’t induce deforestation or doesn’t compete with a food production which would be a…a terrible news for food security in a world where we expect to have 9.5 billion people by 2050.

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization III

Carbon Capture & Sequestration

Here we’re going to discuss about carbon capture and sequestration. So what is it, what kind of a technology is that? It looks almost frightening. So carbon capture and sequestration or CCS, I’m going to use the acronym a lot because otherwise it’s too long, is the capture of CO2 at large stationary point sources such as coal or gas fired power plants, oil refineries, cement plants, or steel mills.

625What are the common characteristics between these different types of activities? It is that they emit exhaust gases with a relatively high concentration of CO2. And it’s an important aspect of where CCS could be feasible.

We need to have somehow a pretty high concentration of CO2 within the entire exhaust gases to be able to operate the CCS technology. That being said, there are broadly speaking, I mean of course there are many more than that, but broadly speaking there are two different types of CCS technologies. What is called pre-combustion CCS technology and post-combustion CCS technologies.

So very simply with post-combustion technologies the CO2 is captured after combustion through a chemical process that separates CO2 from the other gases. Whereas for the pre-combustion technologies the CO2 is removed from the fuels themselves through other chemical processes, but this time as the name obviously indicates, before combustion. So that’s for the capture part of carbon capture and sequestration, CCS. But what happens after that, what do we do with the CO2, because it cannot simply remain in the air once we have separated it through one of these two different techniques?632

Well after the CO2 would be captured at the point source, it would be transported by pipeline to an appropriate geological site for storage under the ground. So what does that mean? I mean what could be considered as an appropriate geological site? I mean what are the conditions that must be met by these sites to safely sequester the CO2 under the ground for a very long period of time? Well as you can see on the picture in front of you there are broadly speaking again, there are more than that, but broadly speaking, three main different options for the geological sequestration of CO2.

  • The first is that what is called mineable coal beds, so it’s a fancy term to speak about the coal veins that cannot be mined.
  • The second type is the depleted oil or gas reserves.

So very simply the empty oil and gas fields, ones that have been exploited where you could put the CO2 back in. And the third and in fact the most important because the scale of these third categories is potentially much higher than the other two, the third type is what we call the deep saline aquifers. So types of geological grounds that are found deep under the earth’s surface.

633So that was for a very general description of the different steps in the process of carbon, capture, we should add, transportation and sequestration of this CCS. So where are we in the process of developing this technology? Well CCS has not yet been proved as a whole system at a large scale. But all the individual components of CCS, so the capture, the transport, the sequestration, all of them are pretty well established technologies and they have been tested in demonstration projects. And to date there are approximately 12 CCS projects that operate under the globe at stationary point sources and most of them are projects on natural gas processing plants while some others are on fertilizer production plants.

So what is really the challenge going forward? I mean what are the obstacles that would need to be overcome if carbon capture and sequestration was to become a real option that could be deployed at scale in many countries? Well there are serious challenges, different types of challenges.  One is costs. The other is scale. And finally there is an issue, an unresolved issue so far regarding the verification that carbon is really sequestered under the ground.

  • So the first open question, what is the optimal power plant design to facilitate carbon capture at relatively low costs?
  • Second open question, what is the best choice of geological sites for the storage of CO2 potentially at a very large scale? I mean we might be talking about tens or hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 to be sequestered during the coming decades. So where is the geological potential for that? I mean which sites would we select to do that?
  • Third open question, what is the design of a reliable and economic hope infrastructure for the transport of CO2?
  • And if you want a fourth question, what are the mechanisms for insuring that the CO2 that is stored remains permanently out of the atmosphere, a very important question indeed, because it determines the success of CCS eventually.

So these are important questions. There are of course other questions. All of them need good answers. But given the importance of carbon and capture and sequestration in many of the deep decarbonization scenarios, including the ones

634I’m going to present when I discuss the results of the deep decarbonization pathway project, given the importance of this technology in so many of these scenarios there is really an urgent need to scale up the research, the development and the demonstration of CCS to test if it can be deployed at scale, if it can be deployed at, at scale safely.

And if it can be deployed at scale at acceptable costs, because the truth is that being able to rely on the large-scale deployment of CCS would greatly facilitate the deep Decarbonization efforts, given what we stressed many, many times now and it is the obvious very heavy dependence of the energy systems on fossil fuels today.

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization IV

Advanced Nuclear Power

Here we’re going to discuss about the new generation of nuclear power reactors.

Today there are approximately 40 countries with nuclear energy as part of their power mix. Countries in very different situations. Some of these countries are proposing to phase out their nuclear power fleet. This is the case for example in Germany. Germany will have no more nuclear power plants in 2023. Other countries are planning to scale back, such as France. France has decided to reduce their share of nuclear energy and its electricity consumption from 75% today to 50% by 2025. But other countries are planning to expand and sometimes dramatically their nuclear capacity. This is the case for example in China. China intends to build the equivalent of the entire existing French nuclear power fleet in the coming years.

641There are, to be frank, serious obstacles standing in the way of the larger scale deployment of nuclear energy worldwide. And the demand to be looked carefully and to be seriously taken into account. Issues of public resistance, in particular, especially following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

But also more generally speaking and unrelated to a particular event, concerns over the safety of the operation of nuclear reactors. Anxiety about the risk of proliferation. And worries about the issues of waste management. And also I should add, concerns over the costs of nuclear energy because grading the existing nuclear reactors or building new reactors to improve their safety following the recommendations that were made after the Fukushima accident will most likely increase their costs and probably quite significantly.

So it’s also important to recognize that the public support for a nuclear technology as important known technical dimensions that are therefore not easily addressed by engineering improvements.

Different societies have different attitudes towards nuclear energy because they have different histories; they have different cultures, different belief systems. But also because the management of the inherent risks of nuclear energy require the existence of an independent safety agency. And the truth is that the conditions of the independence of this safety agency are not really met in all countries.

That being said, the technical advances can play a critical role in the improvement of the nuclear reactors. And they will be needed in order for nuclear energy to remain a significant part of the power mix in some countries or even potentially to play a growing role and an important role given the need to produce low or zero carbon electricity to avoid dangerous climate change. What are these potential critical technical advances?

Well there are plenty of them, such as breakthrough in the safety systems, advances in fuel security, options for a fuel recyclingor techniques to reduce the costs. All of that will be needed if nuclear energy is to play an important and growing role in the future.

The development of a fourth generation of nuclear reactors offers the prospect of addressing some of these important issues. So what is it, a fourth generation of nuclear reactors? What were the three first generations anyway? We use the term, fourth generation nuclear power to bring together different kinds of advanced nuclear fission energy technology that share a number of key characteristics.

  • The first is the modularity of the production systems and the building of smaller scale units.
  • The second is the use of alternative systems for fuel repossessing or the use of alternative fuels to uranium such thorium.
  • And the third is the design of improved automatic and even passive safety systems.

And I’ll explain in a minute what that is because it’s one of the potentially most important breakthroughs of nuclear reactors in the future. What are the objectives of this fourth generation of nuclear reactors? I mean why do that, why build them differently from the previous generations? Well a number of reason.642

The first is that we’re trying to make the nuclear reactors more simple so that the reactors are less vulnerable to construction delays and cost overruns, which sometimes have been very significant in the past and still are today.

But also objective to address the proliferation concerns, a very serious concern. By making it much more difficult to divert materials for nuclear weapons at any point in the fuel cycle. And some of the fourth generation nuclear reactors address this point. But also and as I said, very importantly, almost the driving force of this fourth generation of nuclear reactors, the objective is to improve safety.

And in particular, through the use of passive safety systems. So what is it? Well it means that the reactor core would be assured by physical principles to be safe from the meltdown, even in the absence of active cooling. So that’s why we call it passive safety systems. So as you can see, this fourth generation of nuclear reactors offers interesting prospects. The prospect of significant improvements to the existing nuclear reactors, but they still require a high level of research and development and also demonstration before they could be eventually deployed and play a role in the deep decarbonization strategies

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization II

Grid Management of Power Systems with High Penetration of Renewable Energies

Here we’re going to discuss how the challenge of managing power system, so the way we produce electricity; how the challenge of managing power system with high shares, high proportion of intermittent renewable energies can be met.

So by intermittent renewable energies we mean some of the renewable energies that are intrinsically time variable in the way they produce energy such as wind power or solar energy, but I’ll come back to that in a moment. The good news, to start with is that the cost of power generation through renewable energies is declining very sharply as a result of at least two different effects.

  • The first being technological advancements as a result of research and development.
  • The second being the economies of scale as they progressively become more and more deployed in our energy systems.

621The cost of the solar photovoltaic cells in particular has declined very, very sharply in the recent years as you can see on this graph. You can see on the graph that the cost per watt of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, so that is the main technology that is being used today to generate electricity out of solar energy, that I’ll discuss in a moment, which other types of technologies potentially even more could be used in the future.

But you already see on that graph a very, very compelling decline in the prices of these cells. I mean they went from $76 U.S. dollars per watt in 1970 to $0.74 in 2013, some…an effect that is sometimes called the Swanson effect and that should, well ring a bell. I mean it really looks like the Moore’s law in the semiconductor industry.

622The cost of the wind turbines has also declined, although a bit more gradually. I mean nothing as spectacular than the cost of the photovoltaic cells, but still a significant decline in the recent years.

It’s important to underline here that the price per watt of solar photovoltaic cells is not the same thing that the price of producing electricity through solar photovoltaic energy which is sometimes called by the energy experts, the levelized cost of energy, LCOE. And in fact the price of producing electricity through solar photovoltaic energy remains more expensive than the alternative sources of electricity production, at least in many places.

It’s not the case everywhere. It’s true that solar photovoltaic energy has reached what we have called in the previous chapter, the grid parity. So the cost at which it is competitive with other sources of power generation. So solar photovoltaic energy has reached this grid parity in several regions and, and countries, but not everywhere and…by far. So their costs still need to significantly further decline to enable eventually their very large-scale deployment at a competitive cost. That being said, and it’s an important point I want to make, going forward, the main challenge in relation to renewable energies is likely to be not their costs but how to operate power system with high penetration of intermittent renewable energy.

623So what is that? I mean what is really the problem and, and how do these renewable energies really differ from the other sources of power generation we have today, like coal or gas or hydro or nuclear? And why does it make the operation of the power system more difficult and more challenging? Well as I said, it’s because solar and wind energy are intrinsically in a way time variable for a very simple reason, it’s because wind is not always blowing and sun is not always shining.

So that’s a defining characteristics of these technologies. But on the other hand, the power grid needs to be able to match energy demand and energy supply on a moment by moment basis to maintain the functionality of the power system to make sure that each and every time you need energy there is an energy source to supply and meet your demand.

Traditionally, this is accomplished by using large generators such as coal-fire power plants, or nuclear power plants to provide what is called base load power. And these stable base load generators are then complemented by flexible, readily dispatchable units of power generations such as gas turbines to make a system overall capable of as I said, matching supply and demand at any point in time by the addition of base load power and flexible, readily dispatchable units of power generation.

B624ut going forward, we need to find new low carbon solutions to the issue of supply and demand balancing because as you can see, we cannot in a world where we try to avoid the dangerous effects of human-induced climate change and therefore in a world where we try to deeply reduce the energy emissions, we cannot rely on coal powered generation and gas turbines to, or at least not without carbon capture and sequestration to ensure the balancing of the energy system and going forward, dealing with the intrinsic time variability of some of the renewable energy.

So how can we do that? How can we ensure power system balancing while meeting the constraint of deep emission reductions? Well there are three main ways in which a power system with high penetration of renewable energies can be balanced while again, meeting this constraint of deep decarbonization.

  • The first one is that the intermittent renewable energies, so again, wind, solar, typical examples, can be complemented with other stable sources of low-carbon power supply such as nuclear power, or coal and gas fired power plants, but with carbon capture and sequestration. That’s very important. Not freely emitting coal and gas. Coal and gas plus CCS, or other example, hydropower for countries that have such a potential. Or we can also build a system that links the uncorrelated or that links negatively correlated sources of intermittent renewable energies because that’s a way of dealing with the intermittency of each type of renewable energy; by making sure that combined, we don’t have or this intermittency or at least that we reduce it. So that was for the first broad category of things we can do to balance the energy and the energy supply and the energy consumption with high penetration of renewable energy.
  • Second, there is also great potential to better adjust the time profile of energy demand to the time profile of power supply. And this is broadly speaking what we call demand management. And the truth is that the cost of demand management technologies have declined very significantly.

So it’s not so much an issue of cost going forward, but the main challenges are going to lie in information management, grid management, but also in setting the appropriate economic incentives for demand management. So this is something really interesting, that has great potential to help operate power system with high share of intermittent renewable energies, but the truth is that it’s not going to be sufficient. What will be absolutely critical is to improve our energy storage options.

That’s really important, energy storage. And there is already a variety of electric storage technologies that are known and have been demonstrated on a broad range of time scale from seasonal to daily to hourly to second by second storage, because we need all of that to ensure the functionality of the power system.

625For example, large-scale pumped hydroelectric storage has been cost effective in many countries for decades, but the problem is that it is not available everywhere.

So it will be very important to develop other storage technology options and there are currently a number of options being considered such as batteries or compressed air or hydrogen, but it’s also clear that further research, development and demonstration is going to be required to determine how best to match diverse storage technology options and their cost effective applications and how to commercialize these technologies at a large scale and at a competitive cos

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization I

The Need for Accelerated Development of Low-Carbon Technologies / Key technologies For RDD&D

Today we’re going to discuss in detail some of the key technological challenges that must be met to achieve the deep decarbonization of our energy systems. This is a very important theme of this course. And in fact, also a very important era for action at the international level because we’ve stressed many times now the importance of developing these new low carbon technologies in addition to the ones that are already available today and already deployed to realize the deep transformation of our energy system that is required.

As I hope you remember, at the end of Lecture that (see The Deep Decarbonization of Energy Systems IV )I presented you the results of a global mitigation scenario that achieves a level of CO2 emission reductions consistent with the objective of limiting the temperature increase below 2-degree Celsius. And we saw that achieving deep decarbonization was certainly challenging, but also very feasible and required in particular the almost complete Decarbonization of electricity supply, the largest source of CO2 energy emissions today. But also the very significant, although less radical emission reductions in the end use energy sectors such as transport, building or industry.

611But if you remember correctly, I also emphasized that the implementation of the scenario depended on the deployment and the development at scale of technologies that are either not yet completely technologically mature, or whose costs are still very high. And today in this lecture, starting with this first chapter I want us to identify which of these technologies in particular are key to the process of deep decarbonization. But I also want us to go through each of these technologies one by one and review which are the main technological challenges that must be overcome if these technologies are to be eventually deployed at scale.

Make no mistake here, many of the technologies that are required to reduce the emissions from our energy systems are already available and many of them in fact are already deployed, at least at a pretty significant scale in the global economy. And this is true by the way for each of the three pillars we said were the overarching framework of deep decarbonization. So remember, improving energy efficiency, decarbonizing electricity generation and switching to low carbon fuels. In each of these three pillars we can pick many examples to make this point.

For example there are many existing technological options to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and our industries. Many options for energy efficient heating and cooling. The use of thermostat in particular can save you a lot of energy simply by turning down the temperature when there is nobody at home, or at night. Replacing the incandescent lights by light bulbs also saves a lot of energy. And there are also many options to improve the insulation of the building envelope, for example, by using double or even triple glaze windows. Appliances and electronics are also much more energy efficient than they used to be in the past.612

And what I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Energy Star label can help purchasing the most energy efficient equipment. So that was for just a few by the way of a very wide range of existing energy efficiency technology.

Let’s turn to the second pillar, the low carbon electricity. Here too there are already many existing options to produce electricity in a low carbon way with either low carbon sources of energy or even completely zero sources of electricity production. Example, hydropower has been used for a very long time now and is by the way one of the cheapest way to generate electricity. Many other renewable energies are also being used, although they’re being used at different scales. Onshore or offshore wind. Solar photovoltaic or concentrated solar power. Some of them have even reached what we call the grid parity.

What is it, the grid parity? Complex term for a very simple concept. It is the cost at which the low carbon technologies are, become competitive with the other alternative forms of energy. And some of the renewable energy, certainly not all of them, and certainly not everywhere, have reached the grid parity with some of their high carbon alternatives. Nuclear power is also used by several countries, in fact close to 40 countries to generate electricity. If we go to the transport sector to discuss some of the existing low carbon technologies, there are already a wide-range of fuel efficient hybrid, sometimes even completely battery electric, light duty vehicles. So for passenger transportation there are also vehicles using ethanol produced from biomass derived sugars and starch. Lots of them for example in Brazil. And also some natural gas or electric hybrid powered buses in many of the cities around the world and by the way, not only in the developed countries but also in, in large parts of the developing world already.613

So to summarize, there are already lots of energy efficient and low carbon technologies that are available today and deployed at some scale. It’s true that they might, they might not yet be deployed at a sufficient scale to reach the challenge, to meet the challenge of the deep decarbonization of our energy system, but it’s also true that they’re poised somehow to achieve much higher penetration rates in the future if we are to implement the right policies to incentivize their further deployment and in particular, the pricing of carbon that will increase the price of their high carbon alternatives.

And you can think of many, many different ways that we will discuss in the next lectures of pricing carbon, either directly through a carbon tax or through an emission trading system or even the implicit pricing of carbon through different types of regulations. But the point I want to make here is that the technologies that are commercially available today, alone, will not be sufficient, at least in many national contexts to achieve deep decarbonization, or at least they are not sufficient at reasonable costs.

The existing technologies might be able to do the job, but they will do so at a very high cost. So the development of the new technologies, some of them we’re going to be talking about in the next chapter, really offers the opportunity of lowering the overall costs, the overall investment costs of climate change mitigation.

But it will require important levels of research, development, and demonstration before we go to the deployment phase eventually. And in the next chapters, we will discuss some, not all of them unfortunately because we don’t have the time, but we will discuss some of the most promising technologies of the future. All of these technologies are known to some degree.

It’s not science fiction, not at all. But most of them are still under development of some form. Some of them have been demonstrated in pilot projects or in small commercial niches and not at very large scale. Some others are technically viable but at a way-too-high cost for their mass adoption.614

Some others yet the complimentary infrastructure that is needed for their deployment and yet some others face barriers for public concerns, so lack the necessary public support for their adoption due to concerns about safety, reliability or other types of environmental impacts, because it’s very important of course to take a sustainable development perspective at these technologies and not to look only at their potential to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

Some of these technologies might have other important environmental risks that we need to identify and hopefully be able to mitigate. So in the next chapters, let’s see how we can confront these important technological challenges.