Energy is the cornerstone of daily life and industrial activity. Industrial development has always been based on proximity and access to energy sources: Britain’s Industrial Revolution was driven by coal, while China’s industrialisation was kicked off by the availability of hydrocarbons in the Daquing region. Today, Western economies and China are both dependent on energy imported from countries with unstable regimes. To prevent such dependence, France developed its own nuclear energy, which today supplies most of its domestic and industrial electricity. But Europe as a whole, and France in particular, may be overtaken by circumstances and events leading to an energy impasse. The explosion of demand, awareness of climate risk and emissions targets, the US shale gas revolution, the impact of the Japanese tsunami and the Fukushima disaster and the impact of the global financial crisis have all contributed to political division and indecision across Europe. The only way forward is by technological innovation and commitment to research and development. The author considers the role of smart grids, electricity storage, offshore wind, CO2 recycling, carbon capture and storage technology and hydrogen technology in overcoming this impasse.
An extract from Europe’s Energy Impasse by François Chabannes with the support of Jacques Lanxade in Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact, Volume 1.
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