[Consider the source of this blather, and try to find any actual facts
or evidence to support this opinion piece masquerading as news. Also
note the fossil fuel industries continue to shift the definition of CCS
from sequestration (long term) to storage (short term, e.g. as CO2 is
used to extract more oil from aging fields). Also, no mention of the
relative economic issues associated with photovolaics and CCS in the
Why carbon capture is just as important as renewable energy
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Oct. 09, 2016 4:16PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Oct. 09, 2016 4:18PM EDT
Michael Crothers is the president and country chair of Shell Canada.
Would you buy a laptop with only 340 kilobytes of memory for $27,000?
One that overheats and always needs to be plugged in?
What about a cellphone that weighs over a kilo and is as long as an
iPad? One that offers 30 minutes talk time after being charged for 10 hours?
World-changing innovations can be a hard sell when they are new.
Laptops have come a long way since the GRiD Compass in 1982. Mobile
phones have moved on a lot since the first working prototype in 1973.
And, today, there is another technology out there with the potential to
be revolutionary. Although it will never fit in your bag or pocket, it
is struggling to gain the recognition it deserves, just like the laptop
and cellphone before it. That technology is CCS: carbon capture and
storage. It catches carbon dioxide that would otherwise go into the
atmosphere from power stations and other industrial facilities, and
stores it safely underground.
The world needs it.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes the world’s
climate goals may be unobtainable without it. And it could play a vital
role in helping Canada meet its own climate targets. That’s because CCS
has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from a wide
range of industries, including steel, cement, chemicals and power
Good news: The technology exists and it works. It already works far
better than the GRiD Compass computer or the 1973 Motorola cellphone.
The Quest CCS project near Edmonton announced last week that it
successfully stored one million tonnes of carbon dioxide deep
underground in its first year of operation. That’s equal to the
emissions from about 250,000 cars.
The even better news is that Canadians are really good at CCS. Of the
world’s 22 large-scale CCS projects, nearly a fifth are in Canada. We
also have clean tech companies like Montreal-based Shell Cansolv that
are pioneering the capture technology.
Yet, despite its promise, CCS seems to be the Cinderella of the world’s
energy transition. It is yet to be invited to the ball. Instead,
attention is focused on renewable energy and efficiency measures.
Consider this. Desert Sunlight in California is the world’s
fourth-biggest photovoltaic solar farm. It covers a land area equivalent
to 300 Rogers Centres. It received a federal loan worth nearly
$2-billion (U.S.), and displaces 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a
year. But it would need to be more than three times bigger, covering an
area 16 times the size of Toronto Islands, to displace the same amount
of carbon dioxide that the Quest CCS project is storing away for good.
A solar facility of that size would easily be the world’s biggest,
attracting global attention to match the achievement. Yet you may not
even have heard about Quest, which cost about $1.35-billion (Canadian)
with $865-million of that coming from the governments of Alberta and
Canada, until today.
That is not to say the world does not need solar farms. This is not
either/or. Shell’s own modelling shows that the planet will need to
shift its energy mix this century from 80-per-cent fossil fuels to
80-per-cent non-fossil fuels. The world needs all the technologies it
can get to tackle climate change. It needs renewables. It needs big
progress on energy efficiency. And it needs CCS.
Fortunately, we are already learning much through Quest and other CCS
facilities including SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan.
Sharing lessons from these projects could help make similar subsequent
plants 20-per-cent to 30-per-cent cheaper to build and operate.
Even so, like the laptop and cellphone before it, the cost of CCS
continues to be its biggest challenge. Effective, government-led carbon
pricing mechanisms would certainly encourage future CCS projects. For
example, funds from Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan can help deliver
clean technologies to bring down oil and gas industry emissions.
But in the future, CCS facilities could help fund themselves by using
the carbon dioxide they capture to make new products: concrete,
fertilizer and even pharmaceuticals. Shell is jointly supporting the
$20-million (U.S.) NRG COSIA carbon Xprize to spark exactly that sort of
To be clear, CCS is not the only answer to climate change: There is no
single answer. But it is part of the answer. Canada has played a
critical role in making CCS viable. Now we need to help scale it up,
just as with other technologies.
Just remember how much your laptop weighed 20 years ago and what your
cell could handle 10 years ago. With the right policy support, CCS could
blossom. And, if it does, just think of the impact she could have at the
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