Greenpeace on carbon capture and storage


in Economics, Law, Politics, The environment

Ottawa River overflowing

On Monday, Greenpeace released a report entitled: False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate (PDF). The points made are fairly familiar, though it is good to see them considered in combination:

  1. CCS cannot deliver in time to avoid dangerous climate change.
  2. CCS wastes energy and resources
  3. Storing carbon underground is risky
  4. CCS is expensive and undermines real solutions to climate change
  5. CCS and liability: risky business
  6. The alternative to CCS: renewables and energy efficiency

Joseph Romm probably has the most sensible overall view of CCS. He argues that it can serve as one of the fourteen ‘wedges’ that are required to stabilize global concentrations of greenhouse gasses, acknowledging that even that role will require pumping infrastructure equivalent to all that presently being used to extract oil. Think about the total expenditures of the world’s oil companies on equipment, construction, and labour and you begin to appreciate the costs that are likely to be associated with widespread use of CCS. That being said, it is only fair to say that the cost projections are approximations based on huge assumptions. It is like being in the era of the Wright brothers and trying to project what the finances of a major airline will resemble, in terms of thinks like capital use and equipment life cycles.

CCS needs to be thought about in the context of an overall strategic push to stabilize greenhouse gas levels. It is possible that it will have a modest effect at an acceptable cost. It is also possible that it will be unfeasible at a commercial scale, or simply too costly. The most dangerous possibility is that the very idea of CCS gives people the false sense that the problem can be solved, particularly that we can keep burning coal while waiting for a low-cost technological solution to magically appear. As one strategy among many, CCS might have a future. One future that CCS cannot permit is one where the nature of the world’s energy use remains similar to today, with the awkward greenhouse gasses simply swept under the rug.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. May 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

CCS gets slammed

Greenpeace’s body slam of the core “clean coal” technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) may take a while to sink in. Not so long ago, groups like NRDC were writing glowing accounts of the technology, and it’s safe to say that much of the environmental movement is still sipping the Kool-Aid. So it was heartening to read that at least one person attending the Carbon Capture and Sequestration conference in Pittsburgh seems to have her head screwed on straight and her ear to the grassroots: Becky Tarbotton of Rainforest Action Network.

Erich J. Knight May 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I hope you become as passionate as I have to spreading the news of the multiple solutions Terra Preta soils provides.

I’m sort of a TP cub reporter for the list, most of my post are on news and collaborative efforts caught in my Google filters., my lobbying efforts with writers, companies, academics, journals or governments.

My Current efforts are trying to contact folks doing Metagenomic research and putting the Terra Preta bug in their ears.

the current news and links on Terra Preta (TP) soils and closed-loop pyrolysis of Biomass, this integrated virtuous cycle could sequester 100s of Billions of tons of carbon to the soils.

This technology represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.Terra Preta Soils a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 10X Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too.

UN Climate Change Conference: Biochar present at the Bali Conference

SCIAM Article May 15 07;

After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.

The main hurtle now is to change the current perspective held by the IPCC that the soil carbon cycle is a wash, to one in which soil can be used as a massive and ubiquitous Carbon sink via Charcoal. Below are the first concrete steps in that direction;

S.1884 – The Salazar Harvesting Energy Act of 2007

A Summary of Biochar Provisions in S.1884:

Carbon-Negative Biomass Energy and Soil Quality Initiative

for the 2007 Farm Bill

There are 24 billion tons of carbon controlled by man in his agriculture and waste stream, all that farm & cellulose waste which is now dumped to rot or digested or combusted and ultimately returned to the atmosphere as GHG should be returned to the Soil.

If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I’ve been drafted to co-administer.

It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and probably many others who’s back round I don’t know have joined.

Also Here is the Latest BIG Terra Preta Soil news;

ConocoPhillips Establishes $22.5 Million Pyrolysis Program at Iowa State

Glomalin, the recently discovered soil protien, may be the secret to to TP soils productivity;

Mycorrhizae Inoculent;

The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) conference held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. The papers from this conference are posted at their home page;

Terra Preta Soils Technology To Master the Carbon Cycle

Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did,………… and that now……… we are over doing it.

The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and burning of the world’s forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till and reforestation have started to help rebuild it. It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon to where it belongs.

. May 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

DOE Pumps $126.6 Million Into Carbon Sequestration

“The DOE awarded $126.6 million in grants today to projects that will pump 1 million tons of CO2 into underground caverns at sites in California and Ohio. Environmental groups call carbon sequestration “a scam”, claiming that it is too expensive and uncertain to be competitive with non-coal alternatives like wind and solar. I just hope nobody drops a Mentos down the wrong pipe.”

. May 12, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Carbon Capture And Storage: Hope Or Hype In The Global Warming Debate?
Submitted by Hank on 10 May 2008 – 12:28pm. Energy

One consistent feature of human progress throughout history has been that science will come up with creative answers to current problems. When ancient people living in small tribes were running out of game to hunt, some leaders thought rationing and mitigation were the answers. They would have created a culture of despair. Domesticated livestock was the answer instead and then efficient agriculture and even terraforming.

Based on that confidence, a lot of people, me included, assume that global warming can be solved by some ‘future technology’ as yet undeveloped. Killing our economy by 25% now (yes, imagine it 25% worse) to stave off a .5 degree warming problem in 50 years is positively un-scientific.

But hope is not how things get done. People point to Y2K and say ‘it was all hype, nothing happened’ but they forget that’s because we spent billions prior to that fixing problems. Likewise, acid rain was a huge concern in the 1980s and is not now because problems were addressed squarely.

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