Sylvain David: What energy sources by 2050?

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Production of energy worldwide reached 10 billion tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per year. It is largely through the oil, gas and coal, so very unequal in the world. If rich countries waste, many countries are developing and populous legitimately tend to massively increase their consumption in the coming decades. Energy scenarios predict an increase in 50 300% of global energy production by 2050. It is already clear that such an increase will be on the current model, based on fossil fuels, whose reserves are limited, the use of which leads to massive emissions responsible for CO2 climate change of great magnitude.

The development of new energy sources is essential today, whatever efforts we can do in controlling demand. These alternative sources are well known and relatively well quantified. Nuclear power appears as the only source available to quickly scale, but requires significant capital investment and public acceptance. Solar energy is an important source, but its implementation remains extremely expensive and complex. However, it is already competitive in areas without power system. Wind energy represents a small deposit and will probably exceed 10% of electricity production, and still intermittently and randomly. Biomass is an interesting approach, but difficult to develop large scale. Other sources (geothermal, waves, tides ...) seem unable to meet strong demand. The storage of energy (including hydrogen) is far from being under control. It represents a major technological challenge, and could make them more interesting intermittent energy in the future. Finally, thermonuclear fusion represents a massive source, but may not be available before the end of the century.

Si le développement de l’électro-nucléaire au niveau mondial est sans doute la façon la plus rapide pour lutter contre l’effet de serre, cela ne sera en aucun cas suffisant. Le défi énergétique et climatique auquel nous sommes confrontés, nécessite la mise en place de la capture du CO2 émis par les centrales utilisant des combustibles fossiles et un développement soutenu des énergies renouvelables. Les alternatives aux énergies fossiles présentent leurs propres inconvénients, mais il n’est pas certain que nous ayons encore le choix «

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Sylvain David is in charge of research at the CNRS since 1999 the Nuclear Physics Institute of Orsay


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