Jun 17, 2008

The Importance Of Science And Technology In The Climate Change Response

Many go out of their way to paint the coal industry as the most evil of the evil emitters. But before you buy their line have a read of this excellent opnion piece from Chris Baker of Saunders and Unsworth. Baker also Chairs the Coal Association. Good on the NZ Herald for running this. Readers might recall the difference between Minister Parker and Don Elder on CCS some months back.

Over the next 30 years the world faces a significant disparity between rising carbon dioxide emissions from energy use and the need to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels over the same period.
The ongoing significance of coal and other fossil fuels as a global energy source underscores the important role for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies in addressing global emissions.
The Coal Association of New Zealand recognises that carbon emissions from thermal fuels need to be addressed as the world moves to a lower carbon future. We share the view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) that a comprehensive portfolio of responses is required to combat emissions - being a combination of energy efficiency, renewables, CCS and other technologies.
Both the IPCC and IEA have identified CCS as one of the critical technologies needed to combat climate change. The IPCC estimated including CCS as part of a mitigation portfolio has the potential to contribute over half of the cumulative global mitigation effort while reducing costs by 30 per cent or more. Today the world relies on fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) for 80 per cent of its energy. That figure is expected to rise slightly to 81 per cent by 2030 without significant technology breakthroughs.

In developing countries, access to energy, in particular electricity, drives economic growth and improvements in living standards. Rapid economic growth in China and India has been underpinned by the use of coal for electricity generation and in manufacturing.
In developed countries, coal-fired power stations continue to be built. In Germany, coal plants are being constructed which have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 per cent compared with a standard lignite coal plant. However, the most significant advances in reducing carbon emissions from coal will require some form of carbon capture.
Commercial applications of CCS are feasible within the decade and could then be widely deployed with a favourable policy environment.
Progress on CCS is highly promising: "Complete CCS systems can be assembled from existing technologies that are mature or economically feasible under specific conditions," says the 2005 IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage.
"Significant progress is being made in proving the commercial feasibility of CCS in projects such as the pilot scale demonstration of permanent storage of carbon underground in Victoria, Australia and commercial-scale trials of carbon capture by Sargas, Norway to remove 95 per cent of carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power station," it continues.