Fraunhofer UMSICHT: The Future of the Carbon Economy

Our economic system is based on carbon: How much longer?

Themenheft UMSICHT-Diskurs zur Kohlenstoffwirtschaft
The first issue of the series "UMSICHT-Discourse”

In the themed booklet "Carbon dioxide, biomass and renewable electricity – resources of a new carbon economy?" we discuss aspects of a transformation of today's carbon-based economic system. In doing so, we examine the question of whether our economy will have to do without natural gas, oil and coal in the future.

At the latest since the 1970s, when the Club of Rome with its "Limits to Growth" pointed to the finite availability of fossil (energy) resources, science, society, politics and the economy have been preoccupied with the question of whether a situation can arise in the future in which our economy will have to do without natural gas, oil and coal.

In the meantime, forecasts assume that fossil fuels, especially coal, will continue to be available for some time to come. However, climate change raises the question of alternatives for carbonaceous raw materials in a different form and has to be reassessed. 

Zero emissions only possible with changes in carbon-based economic processes

The decisions of the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015 call for the average global warming to be limited to a maximum of 2°C, which would mean that by the second half of the 21st century at the latest, almost no greenhouse gases would be released. However, such "zero emissions" are inconceivable without a fundamental change in our current carbon-based economic processes. It not only requires a transformation of the energy system, but also affects industries that need carbon-based resources to manufacture their products.

Will carbon dioxide, biomass and renewable electricity become the resources of a new carbon economy?

What does it mean if biomass or carbon dioxide (CO2) are used as a carbon resource in the chemical or steel industry in the future? These and other questions are dealt with in the issue "Carbon dioxide, biomass and renewable electricity – resources of a new carbon economy?” It discusses aspects that are important in the transformation to a new carbon economy. These include the vision of a production system that does without fossil raw materials and uses carbon multiple times in industrial clusters. Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) or Power2X processes, which convert CO2 into products with the help of renewable energy, play a special role.

Discuss with us about the future of the carbon economy

The publication series "UMSICHT Diskurs" is dedicated in detail to selected and current topics of application-oriented research. The themed booklets are not studies in the classical sense, which generally reflect the state of the art. They should be understood as a format that compiles information for scientific and social discourse. They can also formulate questions, the answers to which must necessarily remain open today.

Dr. Thomas Marzi is happy to receive questions and suggestions on this topic. Please call him or send him an e-mail.

As pioneers of a sustainable energy and raw materials industry, we are intensively engaged in the transformation of the energy and raw materials system. Look at our strategic research lines. There you will learn more about the carbon cycle and how production systems can be made sustainable.

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Marzi

Head of Department Think Tank / Group Manager Low Carbon Economy

Phone +49 208 8598-1230