By Rafael González Díaz
Corma, Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research (2014) and member of the Royal London Society for the Advancement of Natural Science, explained that “if we have enough wind and solar energy, we will have cheap hydrogen that can be used As fuel".
In an “ideal context”, if the use of hydrocarbons is necessary “biomass can be used as a source of CO2” while, in a “more realistic” situation, these compounds “can be used in the most rational way possible” so that they last the maximum time.
Although the current social and political commitment is already, in his opinion, "important", he asks to be "sensible" and favor technological evolution "as quickly as possible", albeit in a realistic way and considering that the resources provided by hydrocarbons Fossils constitute "a way to buy time to get to the point we want."
Corma has indicated that although world energy needs will grow at least until 2035 due to population growth, the increase in the consumption of fossil hydrocarbons will not be proportional thanks, on the one hand, to greater energy efficiency and, on the other, to the use of renewable primary energy sources.
The most important will be wind, solar and biomass, although geothermal and tidal power will also be increasingly used, among others.
"The environmental commitment is clear and has no turning back", warns the academic, who points out that "the laws will be aimed at providing us with a greater percentage of clean energy."
The new legislation to be developed in the near future will affect different sectors of the economy and, thus, in transport, the "three fundamental lines" in fuel consumption will go through fossil hydrocarbons, biofuel and electric vehicles.
In the latter case, their number will increase “significantly”, which will require more electricity generated from clean energies “if we want lower CO2 emissions and greater sustainability”.
In addition, it will be necessary to modify the electrical network to provide it with "greater capacity and connection, even between continents, in order to avoid discontinuities in supply."
A drawback that prevents moving away from fossil hydrocarbons in the short term is the difficulty in storing energy from wind and solar origin, although he recalled the existence of various lines of research to solve this problem.
This is the case of new technologies to create automotive batteries that "allow a greater capacity, less weight and that can be recharged as quickly as possible" or the development of photovoltaic cells that generate electricity although this is "a totally open field and with a efficiency still significantly lower than current silicon ”.
It would also be possible to generate hydrogen which, when absorbed in highly attractive materials, could then be used to produce molecules that would "generate energy at any time".
In any case, Corma has acknowledged that Spain is among the developed countries that have "high electricity production from renewables", something that he has described as "positive" and which he hopes will increase in the future.
In the field of photovoltaic energy, he stressed that Spain is "clearly" one of the places in Europe where all the discoveries and advances aimed at taking advantage of solar energy should be implemented and developed.
Regarding other European countries, he praised the role of Germany for its "effort" in the commitment to renewables and also referred to the United States, "a special case that goes through a strategic change motivated by the search for energy independence ”, which leads it to develop“ its heavy resources of oil and gas from 'fracking' ”.