22 Sep 2020 21:29

Novak: hydrogen promising, but new technologies also making fossil fuels 'green'

MOSCOW. Sept 22 (Interfax) - Development of hydrogen fuel is absolutely correct and very promising, but fossil fuels can also be environmentally neutral in light of the development and application of modern technologies for capture and neutralization of harmful emissions, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said during the 11th Clean Energy Ministerial being held in video conference form.

"Despite the global economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, many governments and large energy companies have been increasing investment in green technologies and tightened emissions and reporting requirements," he said.

"Investments in renewable energy increased 5% in H1 2020, while companies' investments in production and exploration fell 20-30%. We see statements by some countries regarding plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The decline in the share of hydrocarbons due to reduced mobility will be partly restored," Novak said.

"We support international efforts to combat climate change, protect the environment, rationally use natural resources, ensure universal access to energy and develop clean technologies. Leading Russian companies in the energy sector are monitoring their carbon footprint and implementing environmental improvement programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency, boosting the share of natural gas and renewable energy sources, and optimizing the use of associated petroleum gas," Novak said.

The idea of introducing closed carbon cycle economy is gaining popularity, the minister said. The 4 main steps to this are the reduction of carbon emissions, use of the resulting CO2, its capture and processing. "The growth in the use of closed carbon cycle economy can provide up to a 40% reduction of emissions from the industrial sector. This topic is also a key one on the energy agenda of the Group of Twenty (G20) and will be reflected in the final communiqué of the forthcoming ministerial meeting," Novak said.

Novak also asked that thought be given to the cost of energy. "As for Russia, we have one of the most diversified energy balances in the world. Almost all types of energy production are present. The share of gas is about 46%, nuclear energy - about 19%, coal and hydroelectric energy - 18% each. We regard nuclear power as an important factor in the formation of environmentally clean energy, and we are developing it - we're not only building large power units, but also, but also small modular reactors (SMRs) which allow us to provide clean energy to remote areas with underdeveloped infrastructure," he said.

"Russia is actively working on using new energy sources, in particular, developing renewables and hydrogen fuel, including in cooperation with foreign partners. I believe that the topic of hydrogen fuel development, in which we have recently seen increased interest, is absolutely appropriate and very promising. In Russia, together with our largest energy companies, we are actively engaging with hydrogen fuel, developing our own technologies along the entire hydrogen supply chain, as well as studying the possibility of applying modern technologies for its production. International cooperation is also very important for the development of this area," Novak said.

At the same time, given the climate agenda, natural gas still has very great prospects, because gas is the energy source with the lowest carbon dioxide emission levels among traditional fuels, the minister said. "And I think that the prospects for expanding the share of its use in the energy balance are quite high, including in electricity generation, despite the increasing share of renewable energy sources. This is an affordable, highly eco-friendly fuel and it can quickly reduce the carbon footprint," he said.

The movement towards "green" energy should not turn into pressure on the energy industry, Novak said. "We need to make balanced and incremental decisions. We must remember that fossil fuels can also be environmentally neutral, given the development and application of modern technologies to capture and utilize harmful emissions. It is necessary to ensure energy security together for all people living on the planet," he said.