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Getting the Right Skills

Getting the Right Skills

The transition to low carbon energy is creating thousands of jobs. But the speed of change is far too slow in many countries. Resourceshift looks at ways to speed up the transition.

Coal

Coal is an abundant and cheap energy resource but it has a huge environmental and health impact. Coal is the most pollutive of the energy sources used, and it kills millions of people in poorly ventilated homes each year. Coal is increasingly facing competition from natural gas, although some people believe that it has a future if “clean coal” technologies can be improved. 

Oil and Gas

The oil and gas majors have an unenviable reputation as lumbering behemoths that make huge amounts of money from producing fuels that cause global warming: big business at its worst. While many of the largest companies are seeking to change their business models, many see too little action  being taken too late. Greenwash is part of the problem: oil companies can spend fortunes on expensive PR firms to improve their brand, rather than taking substantive action to improve their carbon footprint. Companies like BP and Shell who have taken radical steps to reconfigure their business, remain pariahs in the eyes of environmentalists. 

Renewables

The Brave New World of renewables has faced a triple whammy from the fall in oil and gas prices after Covid-19, the rise of populist governments such as those of Trump in the US who have reversed tighter rules on fossil fuels, and a slowdown in China’s expansion of its solar and wind power sector. Although this has taken its toll on the growth of renewables, costs continue to drop and and the public support of renewables does not seem to be waning.  

Future Fuels

Many fuels are in the very early stages of their development but technological breakthroughs are pushing some of these forward at breakneck speed. New catalysts are making hydrogen production cheaper, algae still attracts backers from the finance and investment community, and breakthroughs in nuclear fusion remain possible as the world’s largest fusion plant is built in France. The energy landscape is always changing, and disruptive technological change makes it very difficult to predict which fuels will dominate the future. 

Energy and Water

As planetary resources are stretched further by population growth, the availability of water looks likely to become a key determinant of which fuels will have a future, Making energy requires millions of gallons of water, particularly new technologies such as fracking, and so the world’s water resources are under increasing pressure. Intense geopolitical pressures have emerged over the diversion of water resources through the use of dams, and many people expect the next major war will be over water supplies rather than oil supplies. 

Natural Resources

Resource availability will remain a challenge as the world moves away from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal to renewable sources and energy storage. The battery industry faced its first major price shock in 2017 when lithium and cobalt supplies, which are limited geographically, were unable to keep up with growing demand. 

Getting the Right Skills

The transition to low carbon energy is creating thousands of jobs. But the speed of change is far too slow in many countries. Resourceshift looks at ways to speed up the transition.