How to Achieve a Post Fossil Fuel Energy World

By Bhupinder Singh

COP28, which has just concluded in Dubai at the very last minute came to an agreement on to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”. Though a major breakthrough, the deal doesn’t compel countries to take any concrete action, nor any timescale is specified. Phasing out of fossil fuels causing drastic changes in the weather is essential, but a question remains are we adequately prepared to transition? Just by looking at our ever growing consumption patterns, we get a complete opposite picture. We have to think in terms curtailing consumption and replacement sources for energy needs.

Reduce demand for energy through conservation and education – We are taking energy availability for granted, as a result we are leaving our rooms, homes, and buildings with lights on, devices and TVs on resulting in unnecessary energy wastage. We have become too dependent on our personal vehicles, driving those even when not essential. Their easy availability has resulted in picking the low hanging option of driving, over walking or biking, contributing to a sedentary lifestyle. We need to start energy conservation education at grassroots level, not a mere celebration of World Environment Day. The primary source of power generation is fossil fuel and coal; both are big contributors in global warming so the share of other sources of power generation like wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear needs to be enhanced.

Reducing Power generation, transmission, and distribution losses – Some of the power generation plants are very old, based on technologies of the past, not very efficient by today’s emission and efficiency standards. Similar is the condition of power transmission and distribution systems, which coupled with increased loads are very stress prone and in need of urgent upgrades.

Public transportation over personal automobiles – All new roads including redevelopment should be designed with pedestrian and bike lanes, plus tolls for single person vehicles to discourage its use. This can also play a significant role in abetting global warming. The public transportation vehicles should get dedicated high occupancy lanes that can move faster than the regular bumper to bumper traffic moving at snail’s pace. Use of alternative fuels for automobiles such as hybrids, and electric vehicles (EV), the impact of global warming can be slowed. The issues related to charging, range, availability of working public charging stations, time required for recharging are some other challenges that need to be worked out for EVs.

Blaming fossil fuel industry for the precarious situation that we find ourselves in, while increasing fossil fuel demand will not work. So, the need of the day is not just energy conservation, curtailing our ever ballooning demand for energy, together with promoting alternatives can make the transition less chaotic.