Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carbon capture technology - Good solution against climate change?

Basically what carbon capture technology is all about is capturing emissions from fossil fuels fired power plants, and then burying them underground. There is no doubt that this technology has big potential to stop further increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but if carbon capture technology is to succeed than this project has to be really big.

How big? International Energy Agency chief Nobuo Tanaka recently said that the world needs to build at least 100 major projects for capturing and burying greenhouse gases by 2020 and thousands more by 2050 to help combat climate change. The thing that worries the most is that there is still no country that has tested all parts of the carbon capture process. Norway, Canada and Algeria have few carbon capture projects that are underway but these projects only offer partial conclusion about the potential of this technology.

World definitely needs to start working on pilot projects that would test all parts of the carbon capture process so we could start building large scale projects that could help global efforts to tackle climate change. This of course requires lot of money, and current estimates say that world needs to ensure initial $56 billion investment in the next ten years, and in the period from from 2021 to 2030 further $646 billion will be needed for new carbon capture projects.

Though I'm definitely for total shift to renewable energy sector as the best solution to tackle climate change many recent studies have showed that carbon capture technology has much bigger potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this century than a turn to renewables, mainly because renewables still have at least couple of decades to even come near to fossil fuels in terms of ensuring global energy supply.

Coal will still remain dominant energy source in years to come, especially because coal remains the cheapest fuel, and many developing countries look at coal as something that will boos their economies, just like in China's case. We have to real and accept the fact that world won't make fast switch to renewable energy sector as some expect it would. Therefore, carbon capture technology should definitely become one of the most important solutions to tackle climate change in years to come.

This picture shows how carbon capture projects should operate in years to come. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

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