Joanne McIntyre - 15 January 2018
Did you know that nickel and nickel alloys play a crucial role in the production of renewable energy - enabling clean power to be a central part of our efforts to tackle global warming?
Global energy demand is rising due to population growth and increased per capita use of energy. This rise in energy consumption will lead to a global increase in carbon emissions. However, if the targets to reduce climate change are to be met, substantial reductions in emissions are necessary and innovations are required to meet this challenge. Several technology scenarios are currently under discussion to satisfy growing energy demand while achieving CO2 reduction targets:
Carbon Capture and Storage facilities, low-carbon energy such as wind, solar, hydro-electric power, or more probably a combination of all these technologies. All three scenarios result in a reduction of about 80-90% of CO2 emissions but are more metal intensive than existing power generation.
Whichever scenario is chosen and regardless of the technology used, because of their combination of strength and corrosion resistance, nickel-containing alloys will play a key role in each of these demanding environments. Nickel-containing stainless steel and nickel alloys are essential for the production of renewable energy – enabling clean power to be a central part of our effort to tackle global warming. CCS captures the carbon and fixes it in a form that prevents it being released to the environment.
The action of “fixing” the carbon involves corrosive high pressure atmospheres and extremely high temperatures that are best managed through the use of high nickel alloys and nickel-containing stainless steel.
Increasing Ni demand
Compared to the current energy mix, it is clear nickel will be increasingly essential to satisfy future energy demands and deliver on low carbon commitments. This rise in demand for nickel will lead to additional energy use to mine and refine nickel ore. However, nickel is not consumed but used. Nickel brought into society is not lost as a resource but made available to future generations through recycling. Recycling allows the investment in the energy used to produce nickel initially to be recovered in the production of nickel-containing stainless steel and high nickel alloys.
Nickel demand is expected to increase by 250% by the year 2050.
* Text and image provided by the Nickel Institute