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Decarbonisation UPSC NOTE


What is the meaning of decarbonisation?

  • Decarbonisation is the term used for removal or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) output into the atmosphere. 

  • Decarbonisation is achieved by switching to usage of low carbon energy sources.

Need of decarbonisation

  • The UN Sustainable Development Goal 7: “to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. 

  • Since the world still depends on fossil fuels for 82% of its energy supply, decarbonising the power sector is critical.

  • The share of electricity in final energy consumption will also increase by 80%-150% by 2050. 

  • The recent uptick in coal consumption in Europe, despite the increase in solar and wind power, suggests that reliable, 24/7 low-carbon electricity resources are critical to ensure the deep decarbonisation of power generation along with grid stability and energy security. 

  • Small modular reactors — a type of nuclear reactor — can be helpful to India in this regard.

What are the challenges of decarbonisation?

  • The transition from coal-fired power generation to clean energy poses major challenges.

  • There is a widespread consensus among policymakers in several countries that solar and wind energy alone will not suffice to provide affordable energy for everyone. 

  • In decarbonised electricity systems with a significant share of renewable energy, the addition of at least one firm power-generating technology can improve grid reliability and reduce costs.

  • According to the International Energy Agency, the demand for critical minerals like lithium, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements, required for clean-energy production technologies, is likely to increase by up to 3.5 times by 2030. 

  • This jump poses several global challenges, including the large capital investments to develop new mines and processing facilities.

  • The environmental and social impacts of developing several new mines and plants.

  • China, Indonesia, Africa, and South America that the top three mineral-producing and mineral-processing nations control 50-100% of the current global extraction and processing capacities, pose geopolitical and other risks.

What are the issues with nuclear power?

  • Nuclear power plants (NPPs) generate 10% of the world’s electricity and help it:

    • Avoid 180 billion cubic metres of natural gas demand 

    • Avoid 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

  • Any less nuclear power could make the world’s journey towards net-zero more challenging and more expensive.

  • NPPs are efficient users of land and their grid integration costs are lower than those associated with variable renewable energy (VRE) sources because NPPs generate power 24x7 in all kinds of weather. 

  • Nuclear power also provides valuable co-benefits like high-skill jobs in technology, manufacturing, and operations.

  • But conventional NPPs have generally suffered from time and cost overruns. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Decarbonisation UPSC NOTE
Decarbonisation UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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