Carbon Capture and Sequestration

[Read the Carbon Capture and Sequestration white paper.]

Briefly stated, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will help us to sustain many of the benefits of using hydrocarbons to generate energy as we move into a carbon-constrained world. Even though the CO2 generated by burning hydrocarbons cannot always be captured easily in some cases (as in oil used for transportation), sequestration of CO2 from other sources (such as coal-fired power stations) can help to create, to some degree, the “headroom” needed for the volumes of CO2 that escape capture. Because of the likely continuing competitive (direct) cost of hydrocarbons and in light of the huge investment in infrastructure already made to deliver them, the combination of fossil fuel use with CCS is likely to be emphasized as a strong complement to strategies involving alternative, nonhydrocarbon sources of energy. Moreover, the exploitation of heavy oil, tar sands, oil shales, and liquids derived from coal for transportation fuel is likely to increase, even though these come with a significantly heavier burden of CO2 than that associated with conventional oil and gas. CCS has the potential to mitigate some of this extra CO2 burden.

If we wish to sustain the use of oil, gas, and coal to meet energy demands in a carbon-constrained world and to provide time to move toward alternative energy sources, then it will be necessary to plan for and implement CCS over the coming decades. Subsequently, we should expect a continued need for CCS beyond the end of the century.


5 thoughts on “Carbon Capture and Sequestration”

  1. Recent publications seem to infer that CCS will not be viable for a variety of reasons. Cost is always a factor. Dr. William Happer at Princeton University presented an on campus collquia CO2: Friend or Foe? within the last year or so. That presentation is available as an archived presentation if anyone is interested. I also have the PowerPoint set of slides that accompanied that presentation. Dr. Happer presents data that show temperatures rising BEFORE CO2 concentration increases in the Vostok Ice core data. What led me to recall that data was the indication from the data in this white paper that shows increasing temperatures (the slope of the curve) at a time which proceeds widespread burning of hydrocarbon by humans. Dr. Happer also presents data showing CO2 concentration in the geological past at levels as high as 7,000 ppm in the Cambrian, 2,500 ppm in the Jurrasic with an almost linear decline from that 2,500 ppm value to the 380 ppm value we measure today. That decline emphatically happened due to natural causes, not because of CCS technology. I would further find issue with the white paper in its reliance on the IPCC. The data and personal integrity of some of the participants in that group has been called into question. While this author embraces the truth of variability in average global temperatures over time, I do not embrace the concept that (1) it means the end of the earth for humans and (2) that humans are in any position to actually do anything about the variability. The universe is not static, nor is Earth’s climate. The American Physical Society has just opened a new group dedicated to the real science of global climate variability. The group should provide a great deal of positive input to this discussion over the coming years.

  2. While it is true that there has been some lapses in the process followed by the IPCC, I do not think it is fair to trash the work of 2500 scientist from across the world. Scientists have clearly established that global warming is due to CO2 / GHG emission post the industrial revolution.

    I also know of quite a few Princeton Ph.D qualified scientists who have worked with the IPCC and hold views which are quite different from that attributed to a particular faculty there.

  3. It is about time we moved away from whether global warming is an issue or not and instead begin focussing on how we can improve efficiencies on our energy usage. If the latter can benefit from CCS technologies, albeit in a small way, let us proceed full steam ahead.

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