Socolow and Pacalas Wedges

A simple presentation of the type of changes that will be required has been created by Professors Socolow and Pacala of Princeton University.8 To counter the likely growth of global carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 to 2055, seven 'wedges' of reduction are proposed (Figure 11.5), each wedge amounting to 1 giga-tonne of carbon per year (= 3.66 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year) in 2055 or 25 gigatonnes in the period 2005-55. Many combinations of technologies can be proposed to fill the wedges. Some of the possible ones are the following. They illustrate the scale of what is necessary.

• Buildings efficiency - cut electricity use by 25%

• Double fuel economy of 2 billion cars - 30 to 60 miles per gallon (~10 to 5 litres per 100 km)

• Install carbon capture and storage (CCS) at 800 large coal-fired power plants

• Install CCS at coal plants that produce hydrogen for 1.5 billion vehicles

Wind power from 1 million 2 MWp windmills

• Solar photovoltaic power from area (150 km)2

• Nuclear power - add 700 GW = 2 x current capacity

Biofuel production from 250 Mha of land

• Halve tropical deforestation.

Note that Socolow and Pacala proposed wedges only sufficient to counter the emissions growth to 2055. To meet the reductions to below 2005 levels in 2055 as in Figure 11.4 (b) or (c) requires 13 Gt per year of reduction in 2055 or 13 wedges.

Continued fossil fuel emissions

2000

Continued fossil fuel emissions

2010

2020

2030 Year

2040

2050

2060

Figure 11.5 Socolow and Pacalas' Wedges illustrate the changes required to counter the likely growth of global carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 to 2055. Seven 'wedges' of reduction are proposed, each wedge amounting to a reduction of 1 gigatonne of carbon per year in 2055 (=3.66 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year) or 25 gigatonnes in the period 2005-55. Many combinations of technologies can be proposed, to fill the wedges.

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