Green is Great

Can the world be powered, heated and cooled by renewables?

Two renowned academics from the UK’s Energy Research Accelerator exploried the question of whether the world can be run entirely on renewable energy, and the challenges involved in achieving this, at a special ‘Science on Tap’ event on Monday 13th January at the Tsinghua Science Park in Beijing.


Professors Martin Freer of the University of Birmingham, and Seamus Garvey of the University of Nottingham will be speaking on the subject of A Net-Zero World: Powered, Heated and Cooled by Renewables.

The event is being organised by the British Embassy in Beijing as part of the UK Science and Innovation Network’s government’s ‘Green is GREAT’ campaign. Green is GREAT is one of the UK government’s commitments to promote climate change initiatives across the world, as it looks forward to hosting COP26 in Glasgow in November 2020.

The premise of the ‘Net-Zero World’ presentation by Professors Freer and Garvey is that the human race’s reliance on ever increasing amounts of fossil-fuel energy to provide heating, cooling and electricity is not sustainable. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gases have risen consistently over the past 250 years.

They argue that the impact of climate change caused by the burning of hydrocarbons, is becoming increasingly apparent, with an alarming reduction in sea-ice, increasing occurrences of floods in many parts of the world, higher temperatures resulting in catastrophic forest fires, and dangerous levels of city smog.


The professors’ view is that something must now change very radically and urgently to avoid catastrophic and irreversible global warming and to restore air quality where high concentrations of people live. The UK has committed to achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 but many think that even this timescale is not sufficiently short.

Renewable energy harvesters such as solar panels and wind turbines could potentially provide all of the required energy at the required cost levels. However, heating, cooling and electrical power are not always required at the same time and place as the primary resources (such as wind and solar) are available. Solving this problem is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

Alasdair Hamilton, 1st Secretary Science and Innovation at the British Embassy Beijing commented: “The UK is committed to tackling this important global challenge, and China is a key partner in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. We are delighted to give our expert speakers a platform to share their knowledge here in Beijing through ‘Science on Tap’ and the Green is GREAT campaign.”

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Professors Freer and Garvey are keen to meet with innovative business people and academics who may like to collaborate with them on energy projects.

Science on Tap