Is mitigation an acceptable strategy in the transition to lower emissions?

A 2015 International Energy Agency report sees coal demand outside China ‘modestly increasing’ through 2020 as the decline in Europe and the United States will be ‘more than offset’ by growth in India and Southeast Asia.

quartzIf this is so, should we welcome the news in Quartz magazine that Carbon Clean Solutions technology could help to reach the low carbon-emissions targets set out in the Paris climate agreement?

Carbon Clean Solutions is a ‘20-person company’ with headquarters in London, employees in India and the US. It was founded in 2009 by two chemical engineers, Aniruddha Sharma and Prateek Bumb.

The company built a plant in Tuticorin in southern India which captures carbon dioxide from its coal-fired boiler and converts it into soda ash – and did it so cheaply that it did not need any government subsidies.

“So far the ideas for carbon capture have mostly looked at big projects, and the risk is so high they are very expensive to finance. We want to set up small-scale plants that de-risk the technology by making it a completely normal commercial option.” Sharma told the Guardian.

ccs-headerThis informative website was set up in 2013 but has not been updated

Carbon Clean Solutions technology is said to be cost effective to install and also to run: at a recent industry conference, Professor Peter Styring (University of Sheffield) is widely quoted as saying that the true cost of carbon emissions, measured through environmental degradation, is close to $30 per ton. Sharma says the plant captures emissions from coal at a cost of about $30 per ton and adds, “The next generation of the technology we are working on could cut the price down to $15 per ton”.

The author of the Quartz article, Akhat Rashi, points out that the earlier emphasis on carbon capture and storage (CCS), has shifted in part to carbon capture and utilisation (CCU), where the emissions are turned into useful products.

Mr Rashi adds that the proportion of global renewable energy supply is increasing rapidly, but not yet fast enough to keep global temperatures from rising 2°C above the pre-industrial average, which is estimated to be the point at which that climate change reaches a critical point of no return – so we ask readers, is Carbon Clean Solutions technology a useful and acceptable strategy in the transition to lower emissions?

Jeremy Heighway comments:

Maybe it depends on what mitigation means in newspeak. Lessening negative effects to what extent? How much reliance is there going to be on something positive arriving that tops the negatives?

As far as the text goes, carbon capture and utilisation is better than carbon capture and storage in my book (except that a living tree would out-perform the book I’d be reading from in terms of CCU)!  

I guess a more serious response is that of course mitigation CAN be an acceptable PART OF THE strategy, yes, but it doesn’t make it the solution per se.





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