NewEnergyNews: BALI TALKS CCS

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    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    BALI TALKS CCS

    The idea of carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) is getting its biggest airing ever at the world climate change summit in Bali. Burning coal to generate electricity is the easiest solution to the world’s growing energy demand. Unfortunately, it also generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Prolifically. But if the emissions could be captured and put somewhere…

    It worked with the emissions from coal-burning power plants that were causing acid rain in the 1990s.

    It’s like the most popular solution to the problem of radioactive nuclear waste. Stick it in a hole under a mountain in Nevada. Problem solved.

    But efficiently capturing coal plant-generated GHGs is not as easy as capturing acid rain-inducing chemicals. It is less efficient and more expensive. And it doesn’t solve the problem of environmental degradation from coal mining or the problem of emissions generated from transporting coal.

    Why not just build New Energy infrastructure and invest in the technologies already nearly developed for storing wind and solar?

    John Wright, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation: "We're still at an early time [on CCS]… The next five to 10 years will be a crucial time to test the validity of these various exercises."

    He thinks we’ve got 5 to 10 years?


    Race to Bury Carbon Emissions Heats Up Amid Climate Concerns
    Joseph Coleman, December 3, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)
    and
    Carbon capture not on table at UN climate talks: UN official
    December 5, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    10,000+ delegates of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 190+ nations

    WHAT
    - The climate change summit is probably the most important gathering of leaders and experts since the Kyoto summit. It is intended to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with climate change subsequent to the closing of Phase 2 of the Kyoto Protocol.

    The long-running Norwegian Sleipner sequestration project in the North Sea. (click to enlarge)

    - Much discussion in the early days of the summit has been on the potential of “clean” coal technology and the effectiveness of the cap-and-trade system for emissions reduction.

    WHEN
    - Phase 2 of the Kyoto Protocols begins next year and runs through 2012.
    - The summit runs from December 3 through December 14.
    - Norway’s Sleipner offshore natural gas CCS project has been operational since 1996.
    - The US FutureGen CCS demonstration project is scheduled to go online in 2017.

    WHERE
    - The summit is taking place in Bali, Indonesia.
    - Norway has the first operational CCS plant (Sleipner, a natural gas facility) in the North Sea and more projects planned.
    - The US has a $1.5 commercial research project in planning.
    - Australia has 12+ projects indevelopment.
    - The EU has plans for 12 large demonstration projects.

    WHY
    - Coal is plentiful. Some consider it cheap, though when the cost of emissions on climate change, the cost of environmental degradation and the cost of public health problems is considered, it is not necessarily that cheap.
    - The idea of capturing the GHGs from coal-fired electricity plants is appealing but the technology has not been shown to be efficient at commercial scale.
    - There are also legitimate fears that the highly acidic GHGs would not safely be contained (sequestered).
    - At a recent gathering, OPEC delegates gave CCS a big boost by endorsing further development of it
    - Critics say the technology has little hope of having an impact for a decade or more.
    Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth in Kyoto is monitoring a pilot underground storage pilot project to see if the sequestered emissions move underground.

    Schematic of the US FutureGen capture project that will be ready for tesing in 2017. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Yvo de Boer, executive secretary, UNFCCC, day 1: "I think carbon capture and storage will play an important part in a long-term response to climate change…Countries like China and India will continue to rely on abundantly available coal, and therefore you have to find a way of economically using that coal in a clean way."
    - Yvo de Boer, day 3: "I do not expect a decision at this conference on the inclusion of carbon capture and storage…I think further analytical work has to be done."
    - Gabriela von Goerne, Greenpeace Germany: "What we see is a diversion of money away from renewables toward CCS and coal, and that's not the way we want to see things move forward…The technology is not in place, it's under development, and we don't have time. We need to cut emissions right now and not in 15 or 10 years."

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