Expert Comment: Net zero target will not be met without new clean energy alternatives

Wind turbines at sea

Ahead of COP26, Dr Bo Li, an expert in new energy materials and carbon emission reduction technologies in the School of Engineering‘s  Mechanical Engineering Group, comments on why ‘net zero emission will never be achieved at current pace’. He said:

‘Climate change challenges our ‘business-as-usual’ mindset, and scientists are warning us evidently that our efforts to reduce CO2 emission is far behind the claims.

‘Decarbonisation of heating and cooling is never an easy task due to the decentralised energy sources we are consuming. From the recent Government announcement, introducing air source heat pumps to replace gas boiler heating will never be a final solution to net zero carbon emission, at least from my point of view.

‘What is more important, we have to find more alternatives, new clean energy materials and efficient thermodynamic systems, to clean heating and cooling rather than to continue to use refrigerants that have significant Global Warming Potential and Ozone depletion Potential. We are far behind our claims to phase out existing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in nearly every sector such as transport, infrastructure, and construction. Net zero emission will never be achieved at current pace.

‘Efficient and environmental-friendly heating and cooling solutions are imperatively demanded from scientists. What we actually need to invest in is scientific innovation in new technologies and infrastructure and increase investment to scale them up and transform millions of domestic and industrial units for natural gas replacement.

‘Needless to say, creatively integrated ‘Source-Grid-Load-Storage’ energy consumption should be further developed and deployed on a much broader scale, ‘a wide array of countries and stakeholders’ need to act together. Greater international coordination to accelerate progress in developing solutions to the world’s greatest source of carbon emissions could be critical in bringing new technologies to scale and shaping the low-carbon heating and cooling sector of the future.’