2010 WEC Globe & Mail
As energy demand rises, leaders strive to reconcile
“When a revolutionary technology is born, previously developed technologies become obsolete, and the money spent to develop them becomes meaningless. These risks deter investors from aggressively moving forward to carbon-free energy market.”
Younghoon David Kim, Chairman and CEO, Daesung Group, Korea
Balancing the increasing demand for energy in burgeoning Asian economies, particularly China and India, with technology that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation is a massive challenge for the energy sector.
At issue is how to meet the need for energy required to keep economies growing and enhance quality of life, with environmental, social and economic impacts that are acceptable to consumers and regulators.
Younghoon David Kim, chairman and CEO of Korean energy giant Daesung Group, believes nuclear energy should play a pivotal role in transitioning to a carbon-free economy.
“This past July at the Energy Technology Perspective 2010 conference in Seoul (Korea), International Energy Agency secretary general Nobuo Tanaka stressed the importance of carbon dioxide capture and sequestration, new and renewable energy and nuclear energy. Adopting these solutions in combination is the only way in which CO2 emissions can be cut by 50 per cent by 2050,” says Mr. Kim.
He points out that while carbon emissions in many developed countries decreased in 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession, emerging markets such as China and India continued to emit more carbon.
According to Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien, China produced 7.43 billion tonnes of CO2 (2008: 6.8 billion tonnes), representing nearly a quarter of global emissions. With average annual emissions growth of eight per cent over the past decade, China overtook the United States in 2007 as the world’s leading CO2 emitter. India’s emissions grew by close to five per cent a year over the past decade.
“Demand for energy will also rise in rural areas of South Asia, South America and Africa, where a fifth of the world’s population — some 1.5 billion people — live without access to electricity. Further, many experts predict that until 2030 annual energy demand will continue to increase by 2.5 per cent. Also, more than 80 per cent of that demand will be coming from non-OECD countries,” says Mr. Kim.
While Korea’s Daesung Group is investing heavily in the development of sustainable energy technology and already has projects underway throughout the world, Mr. Kim believes there are too many new and renewable energy technologies competing with one another without any way of measuring them against international standards.
“No one knows which technology will survive,” he says. “When a revolutionary technology is born, previously developed technologies become obsolete, and the money spent to develop them becomes meaningless. These risks deter investors from aggressively moving forward to carbon free energy market.”
Equally important, says Mr. Smith, is how to define sustainability. “It’s not just a label that we can slap on everything. We also need to ensure that we do a full cost accounting of whatever measure we implement to advance sustainability and conservation,” he says.