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If nothing else, Jeffrey Simpson's diatribe on the cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) pilot projects in Alberta must surely serve as a sad reminder of why Canadians rarely win the technology sweepstakes. Faint heart never wins fair lady, they say. Similarly, failure to make substantial investments in R&D will certainly mean we never win fair market rewards for CCS technology, because we simply won't have a product to sell if we don't figure out how to build it.
So let's take a quick look at just one aspect of the likely market for CCS technology. You see all those red circles on the above map? They represent GHG emissions from coal-fired electricity generators in the US (comparable Canadian emissions are represented by yellow circles; emissions from the oilsands are captured by the blue circle). That gives you a fair idea of how much CCS technology is going to be in demand when the US finally gets around to putting a binding cap on emissions. So why shouldn't Canadians be right there with a workable technological solution? The price of which will surely fall once it goes into mass production.
Take heart, Canadians. As John MacDonald recently said, we are the best engineers in the world. If the rest of us have the courage to support their efforts, we too will have a chance to share in winning fair market rewards.
Posted On Oct 23 07:49AM
Interesting. I don't believe I've heard a business case for CCS yet: the debate is always over the environmental impact solely.
Myself, I remain confused on the whole issue -- whether or not CCS is the way (or one option, as GreenAlta so rightly argues, of many). But it often feels like a 'dodge', as MoS implies -- a way for business to ignore the problem and continue doing things as usual.
So, while CCS may be an interesting option, I hope we don't just leave it there or rely on it. But we definitely need to invest in innovative solutions (technological and otherwise) for the future. And if we are going to do CCS, we should be in with both feet and invest appropriately.
Posted On Oct 22 09:28PM
CCS is not a panacea for carbon emissions, but it is a useful component of the whole suite of measures necessary if we are to substantially decrease our carbon footprint. CCS, like so many other measures, cannot be cost effective so long as here is no meaningful price on carbon. By meaningful, I mean that the price has to be so consequential that people (and their energy suppliers) will change their behaviour markedly rather than pay the price to emit.
So far i have not heard an of our leaders broach that idea. Indeed, I recently was told that the $15/tonne assessment in Albetta is so populat that it has produced a fund of several hunred million dollars. That might sound like good news, but its not; emitters are choosing to pay into the fund rather than reduce their emissions, so its just a nominal tax on business as usual with no apparent deterrent value.
Posted On Oct 22 07:51PM
Does anybody really believe that CCS can answer any nation's GHG emissions problem? Getting CCS up and running on any meaningful level is a multi-decadal challenge. Even if it could be made viable, there's not nearly enough time to implement it. Look at Merkel's climate team's numbers. We've got ten years - one decade - to end carbon emissions if we're going to prevent catastrophic runaway global warming. CCS is simply a dangerous distraction, a contrivance to avoid confronting the real problem that threatens us.