Kavli Institute For Theoretical Physics Presents The KITP Public Lecture Series
Challenges for Global Energy
sponsored by Friends of KITP
There are substantial challenges (technical, political, and economic) involved with widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies. Prof Nathan Lewis (Caltech) will present an overview of available fossil fuel resources and estimate the remaining years of supply of oil, gas, and coal for use in primary power production. These sources can then be compared to renewable energy technologies (wind, solar thermal, solar electric, biomass, hydroelectric, and geothermal) to evaluate the degree to which supply and demand may stimulate a transition to renewable energy technologies. A greenhouse gas constraint on total carbon emissions, in conjunction with global population growth, is projected to drive the demand for carbon-free power well beyond that produced by conventional pricing tradeoffs. This informs the R&D investments needed to produce the required quantity of carbon-free power by the 2050 timeframe, triggering evaluations of the energy potential of renewable energy resources and revealing scientific challenges to cost-effective production of carbon-free power by the 2050 timeframe.