This article is best viewed as a PDF Electricity generation provides 18,000 terawatt-hours of energy a year, around 40% of humanity's total energy use. In doing so it produces more than 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the largest sectoral contribution of humanity's fossil-fuel derived emissions. Yet there is a wide range of technologies ? from solar and wind to nuclear and geothermal ? that can generate electricity without net carbon emissions from fuel. The easiest way to cut the carbon released by electricity generation is to increase efficiency. But there are limits to such gains, and there is the familiar paradox that greater efficiency can lead to greater consumption. So a global response to climate change must involve a move to carbon-free sources of electricity. This requires fresh thinking about the price of carbon, and in some cases new technologies; it also means new transmission systems and smarter grids. But above all, the various sources of carbon-free generation need to be scaled up to power an increasingly demanding world. In this special feature, Nature 's News team looks at how much carbon-free energy might ultimately be available ? and which sources make most sense. Hydropower The
Nature – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 13, 2008
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