A panoply of fuels, from algae to hydrogen, have been identified as potential technologies that can solve the twin goals of meeting the energy needs of an expanding world population while also mitigating climate change and ensuring that future generations can live comfortably.
The big problem with all of these is achieving the scale needed to provide energy for billions of people. It’s all very well to experiment in a lab, but the real challenge of energy is not just to produce it, but to do at scale and economically. This is the case with hydrogen.
Some of the new fuels being developed have been pioneered by large oil and gas companies, raising a real question mark over whether the research and development money being spent is “greenwash”. Algae is an example.
The commodities used to produce future fuels also have alternative uses, raising the prospect of potential competition between supply chains. Biofuels are a good example; using crops to make energy is viable, but not if people are left without food.
Future fuels… Just because it works in the laboratory doesn’t mean that a technology can be scaled up to meet the world’s burgeoning energy demand.