Quantum computing just might save the planet
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The emerging technology of quantum computing could revolutionize the fight against climate change, transforming the economics of decarbonization and becoming a major factor in limiting global warming to the target temperature of 1.5°C.
Exponentially more powerful machines could make possible major reductions in emissions, putting the goal of limiting global warming within reach.
Quantum Computing is a new technology that leverages the laws of quantum mechanics to produce exponentially higher performance for certain types of calculations, offering the possibility of major breakthroughs across several end markets.
The technology works by calculating with qubits, which can represent 0 and 1 at the same time. By contrast, classical computing calculates with transistors that represent either 0 or 1.
In quantum computing, power increases exponentially in proportion to the number of qubits; with classical computing, power incre
Quantum computing could help reduce emissions in some of the most challenging or emissions-intensive areas, such as agriculture or direct-air capture, and could accelerate improvements in technologies required at great scale.
Quantum computing could bring about step changes throughout the economy that would have a huge impact on carbon abatement and carbon removal
During calcination in the kiln for making clinker, a powder used to make cement, CO2 is released from raw materials.
Alternative cement-binding materials (or "clinkers") can eliminate these emissions, but there's currently no mature alternative clinker that can significantly reduce emissions at an affordable cost.
Currently, solar cells rely on crystalline silicon and have an efficiency on the order of 20 percent
Perovskite crystal structures, which have a theoretical efficiency of up to 40 percent, could be a better alternative
They present challenges, however, because they lack long-term stability and could, in some varieties, be more toxic
Quantum computing could help solve these challenges by allowing for precise simulation
If the theoretical efficiency increase can be reached, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) would decrease by 50 percent
Best known as a fertilizer, ammonia could also be used as fuel. Currently, it is made through an energy-intensive process using natural gas.
Other potential approaches include Nitrogenase bioelectrocatalysis.
This method is attractive because it can be done at room temperature and at 1 bar pressure
Quantum computing can help simulate the process of enhancing the stability of the enzyme, protecting it from oxygen and improving the rate of ammonia production by nitrogenase.
Twenty percent of annual greenhouse-gas emissions come from agriculture-and methane emitted by cattle and dairy is the primary contributor (7.9 gigatons of CO2e, based on 20-year global-warming potential).
Research has established that low-methane feed additives could effectively stop up to 90 percent of methane emissions, but applying those additives to free-range livestock is difficult.
With $3 to $5 trillion in value at stake in sustainability, according to McKinsey research, climate investment is an imperative for big companies.
Governments have an important role to play by creating programs at universities to develop quantum talent and by providing incentives for quantum innovation for climate, particularly for use cases that today do not have natural corporate partners, such as disaster prediction or that aren't economical.
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