Most scientists and policymakers agree that the energy sector, especially electricity generation, needs to be largely decarbonized by the turn of this century, but they differ on the means by which decarbonization should be accomplished. A variety of low-carbon emission energy technologies currently compete, ranging from fuel-free renewable technologies such as hydroelectric power and wind, solar, and tidal power to fuel-dependent technologies such as biofueled thermal power, nuclear energy, and fossil fuel-based thermal power coupled to efficient carbon capture and sequestration or reuse.
Ultimately, this competition will be settled on the basis of technological readiness and capability, cost competitiveness, and specific technological constraints. For example, hydropower requires building new dams and storage reservoirs, which leads to environmental impacts; biofuels compete with food production for arable land; carbon capture and storage requires safe carbon dioxide storage sites; and nuclear power has raised questions about the safety of both the nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, as well as the possible role played by nuclear power in nuclear weapon proliferation.
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