The second day of the WHEC 2008 conference in Brisbane got underway with a very passionate speech from Andrew McNamara, Minister of Sustainable Energy for Queensland, as the subject of global warming and depleting resources focused the minds Down Under.
$quot;Humanity is now focused on finding alternative energy to oil as there is a limit to fossil fuels, and future growth for the planet is at risk if we do not solve this issue,$quot; were McNamara’s opening remarks.
$quot;Clearly, politicians have not got the message across when we are being asked across the globe to reduce tax/duties on diesel and petrol - this shows that the general population expects such fuels to be available all the time!$quot;
$quot;For decades, we have lived in a world of unlimited energy demand and plenty of resources. Scientists believe that it was in 1980 that the balance between demand and reserves was reached and now will are on a downward slope of depletion of the very resources we need,” he continued.
McNamara went on to discuss global warming and mentioned that we have seen a 1oC rise in global temperatures already and that when we reach a 2oC rise (some think we have also experienced this as well) the impact on life means that extinction rates will range between 15-40%. Any higher and this figure rises. At present we are heading towards a 5oC rise in average temperatures which would be disastrous for the planet. $quot;We must get this under control and reduce greenhouse emissions$quot; he said.
Resource depletion is also a major concern and McNamara stated that oil refining capacity peaked in November 2006 at 85.5 million barrels a day. It has not exceeded that since even though demand has increased. $quot;Peak-oil$quot; has reached that level in many countries. In Australia itself, the country was 100% self sufficient in own oil in 2000, it is currently down to 70% and by 2010 it will be 50% supplied domestically.
He was very enthusiastic on the conference and the reasons behind it, saying, $quot;We need to fill the gap between today's energy vector and when the Hydrogen Economy is realised.”
We apparently need to use current energy more efficiently and that while hydrogen is “breath-taking in its potential, it is frustrating in its delivery,$quot; he stated. He ended by saying that future economic growth and energy supply must be a low carbon one.
Dr Kelly Thambimuthi spoke about Low Carbon and Carbon Free Energy from Coal, presenting figures that the 2oC rise in temperature will be reached by 2015 and that it must not rise from there. This means that we must begin reducing emissions to that of 2000 to ensure that does not happen.
Energy demand forecasts expects that demand will rise by 50% over the next 25 years. This will result in 40 billion tons of Co2 being emitted by 2030. What is interesting from such reports like Stern and the IPCC is that coal is the most abundant fossil fuel across the globe and will therefore be a major energy vector in the future. However, we must reduce Co2 emissions and we need to ‘de-carbonise energy’ in power generation, transport and large industry.
The conference presentations from industry experts around the world continued throughout the day in Brisbane.