Page 32 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2016 publication
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32 Spring 2016 European Energy Innovation

CO2: New problem, new solution.
But is the old solution better?

"Gamora: History repeating itself?
Warlock: History doesn't repeat itself, Gamora, but sometimes it rhymes."

                                                                                                       – Dan Abnett

The COP 21 discussions last              is not causation (an observation that       foreseeable future; or until some other
            December marked an historic  sums up the climate debate); and            solution can be developed.
            commitment to restrain       pending any revelations about Man’s
            global temperature rise,     ability to influence global climate, it     It is immediately apparent that current
even as the meeting also achieved        seems logical, superficially at least, to   CCS technology is unsuitable as a
consensus on the need to reduce          try removing CO2 from the apocalyptic       means to deal with transport emissions
greenhouse gas emissions (for which,     equation above. According to the            – who would drive around with some
read “principally CO2”). Behind these    IPCC, 35% of total anthropogenic            gigantic balloon attached to the
observations lie two incontrovertible    emissions in 2010 were derived from         exhaust pipe of his car? Nevertheless, it
facts: the climate is changing; and      power generation, and our proposition       is eminently possible to retrofit capture
atmospheric CO2 levels are rising. And   is made even more encouraging               technology to fixed installations such
behind those facts lie increasingly      by the bold claim of Britain’s CCS          thermal power stations. Another
strident warnings from the IPCC about    Association that up to 90% of the CO2       technique is to increase the amount of
the anthropogenic component of           emissions from thermal electricity          oxygen in which the fuel is burned. This
climate change and of the potential      generation and industrial processes         increases the efficiency of combustion
damage it may cause:                     can be prevented from entering the          (incidentally producing more energy)
                                         atmosphere. Using Carbon Capture            and results in a higher proportion
Rising CO2 = Rising temperature =        and Storage (CCS) with renewable            of CO2 in the exhaust gases, making
Rising Sea Levels = Planetary disaster   biomass, it says, may even remove CO2       its separation easier. Elsewhere, the
                                         from the atmosphere.                        beverage industry already uses a
QED: Man’s carbon habit is destroying                                                technique to capture CO2 in solution
the planet.                              CCS may be viewed as a three-stage          and then release it by heating.
                                         process, by which CO2 is first captured at  Capturing CO2 does not therefore
A quick look at graphs of atmospheric    the point of emission, then transported     seem to pose huge problems.
CO2 and global temperature over          to some designated storage site, finally    Transport of gaseous CO2 does not
recent times is both impressive and      to be injected so as to prevent its re-     require much technological innovation
alarming. Nevertheless, correlation      emergence into the atmosphere for the       either, for millions of kilometres of

20 metres thick and 80 million years old: natural carbon capture and storage.

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