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Listen to the consumers, of course!

The world is using much less carbon per unit of output, and this includes China and India.

“Economically and technically, carbon seems to fated to fade gradually over this century. By 2100 we will feel nostalgia for carbob as some do now for steam locomotives. “

Here is the relevant picture:

Falling Global Carbon Intensity

And why has this happened?

The explanation for the persistence of decarbonisation is simple and profound. The overall evolution of the energy system is driven by the increasing spatial density of energy consumption at the level of the end user, that is, the energy consumed per square metre, for example, in a city. Finally, fuels must conform to what the end user will accept, and constraints become more stringent as spatial density of consumption rises. Rich, dense cities accept happily only electricity and gases, now methane and later hydrogen. These fuels reach consumers easily through pervasive infrastructure grids,right to the burner tip in your kitchen.

Ultimately the behaviour of end-users drives the system. Happily, the system can thus be rational even when individuals are not (my emphasis). When end-users want electricity and hydrogen, over time the primary energy sources that can produce on the needed scale while meeting the ever more stringent constraints that attend growth in turn will win. Economies of scale are a juggernaut over the long run. Think, for better or worse, of Walmart stores.

This from Jesse Ausubel’s excellent, “Renewable and Nuclear Heresies.

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