The accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station in 2011 has caused profound effects on energy policies in Japan and worldwide. This is particularly because it occurred at the time of the growing awareness of global warming forcing measures towards decarbonised energy production, namely the use of fossil fuels has to be drastically reduced from the present level of more than 80% by 2050. A dilemma has now emerged because nuclear power, a CO2-free technology with proven large-scale energy production capability, lost confidence in many societies, especially in Japan and Germany. As a consequence, there is a world-wide effort now to expand renewable energies (REs), specifically photo-voltaic (PV) and wind power. However, the authors conjecture that PV and wind power can provide only up to a 40% share of the electricity production as long as sufficient storage is not available. Beyond this level, the technological (high grid power) and economic problems (large surplus production) grow. This is the result of the analysis of the growing use of REs in the electricity systems for Germany and Japan. The key element to overcome this situation is to develop suitable energy storage technologies. This is particularly necessary when electricity will become the main energy source because also transportation, process heat and heating, will be supplied by it. Facing the difficulty in replacing all fossil fuels in all countries with different technology standards, a rapid development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) might also be necessary. Therefore, for the short-range strategy up to 2050, all meaningful options have to be developed. For the long-range strategy beyond 2050, new energy sources (such as thermonuclear fusion, solar fuels and nuclear power - if inherently safe concepts will gain credibility of societies again), and large-scale energy storage systems based on novel concepts (such as large-capacity batteries and hydrogen) is required. It is acknowledged that the prediction of the future is difficult; therefore, the only insurance in this situation is by intensified research into all viable options.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Mathematical Physics