Decarbonization

The infamous “battle of currents” 1888-89 between Thomas Edison on one side and Nicolaus Tesla and George Westinghouse on the other side, was about the future of the electric system. Which was the superior technology, Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC)? AC won, and for over half a century it looked like an outcome with the winner takes all.



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Achieving “zero carbon emissions” (see footnote) without compromising safety and reliability, while keeping costs affordable, is not a trivial task. Countries that have succeeded or have come close are countries with a dominant portion of hydro power, for example Norway, Island, Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada. Also, countries like France and Sweden, with a mix of nuclear and hydro have achieved over ninety percent of zero emissions.



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Svante Arrhenius, the Swedish scientist, and Nobel Prize laureate was the first (1896) to develop a theory and calculate how increases of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere will increase the Earth’s surface temperature. He also concluded that anthropogenic (human caused) CO₂ emissions, even though much smaller than natural forces, are large enough to contribute to the warming. He calculated that a doubling of CO₂ concentration in the atmosphere would lead to a 5°C temperature rise. However, at that time increased temperatures were regarded more positive than negative, not least reducing the risk for a new ice age.



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