IPCC AR6 (Part III) : Can carbon capture and renewable energy save the world?
The third installment of the 6th assessment report of the IPCC was released on April 4th. It focuses on widening the window of opportunity by suggesting mitigatory solutions to combat the climate crisis. The world is planning too many coal-based plants to be able to meet the 1.5 degree celsius temperature targets. The third installment of the IPCC report has made it clear that while we cannot rule out technologies such as carbon capture and storage, the only effective way to meet the 1.5 degree target is to phase out fossil fuels and make the economy dependent on renewable energy. The report says that all coal-based plants without implementing carbon capture technologies(CCS) will have to be shuttered by 2050. Apart from having 10% of the world’s capacity of coal plants(*211GW), another **31GW are being constructed and 24 are in pre-construction phases in India. None of these have carbon capture technologies. However, according to the report since generating electricity from new wind and solar plants is a lot cheaper, adding CCS technologies to new coal plants will not only increase cost of electricity but also water consumption by 150%. Some carbon removal technologies like BECCS (bioenergy, carbon capture and storage) can potentially impact surrounding biodiversity, ecosystems and food security unless done at a limited scale. The report offers a plethora of mitigatory solutions like solar energy, wind energy, electrification of urban systems, urban green infrastructure, energy efficiency, improved forest — and crop / grassland management and reduced food waste and loss which is increasingly becoming cost effective. Private producers in India like Tata and JSW have set targets to expand their renewable energy portfolios significantly in the next five years. Government run organizations like Power Finance Corporation(PFC) and the Rural Electrification Corporation(REC) are the sole financiers of coal plants in India now. This could be seen as a ray of hope because since 2010 the cost of low emission technologies like solar, wind and lithium ion batteries has fallen by 85%, 55% and 85% respectively. Solar power’s usage has increased by 10 times while EV usage has increased 100 times. But, the next few years are going to be crucial because the world will have to reduce annual Co2 emissions by 48% by 2030 to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Methane emissions will have to be reduced by 1/3rd by 2030 and halved by 2050. The IPCC report says that we have both the knowledge and technology to accomplish these goals.
Source: Down To Earth