Rising to the clean energy challenge

I read with dismay that 1,200 coal-fired power plants have been proposed for construction worldwide ("OECD to cut financing for coal-fired power plants"; Nov 19).

To be able to achieve the target of zero emissions by 2080 ("Deep differences remain at Paris climate talks"; Dec 9), no new power plants utilising coal should be built, even in developing countries.

Besides wind and solar power, we have other alternative energy sources to meet our needs without tipping the ecological balance of greenhouse gases.

One of them is through the use of hydrogen fuel cells, which have been successfully used in cars.

As we have abundant sea water, we could manufacture as much hydrogen as we need through electrolysis and not worry that we might run out of fuel - unlike in the case of coal and oil.

Advocates of nuclear power tout it as the best solution to our energy dilemma, but the drawback is the large amount of radioactive waste generated.

However, if the experimental project to build a nuclear power station in France using nuclear fusion ("France to host nuclear fusion project"; June 29, 2005), rather than the conventional fission method, proves to be successful, we would have hit the jackpot, with regard to eliminating emissions as well as satisfying our insatiable energy needs.

The cost of building such technology might be sky-high now, but as our technological know-how advances, cheaper and more efficient construction methods could be formulated.

Mr Francis Cheng said huge amounts of fossil fuels as well as money would be required by nations to completely change their industrial and transportation systems to renewable ones ("Renewable energy can't replace fossil fuels entirely"; Dec 17), hence defeating the purpose of these alternative energy sources.

However, maintaining the status quo will not help prevent global warming.

No problem is really insurmountable if people are willing to put their minds to it.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)