During the 13th Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies Conference (GHGT-13) in Lausanne, Switzerland, Bellona Europa and the International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy Task 41, coordinated by Finnish research institute VTT, organised their second Bio-CCS workshop. The topic of the event was sustainability and the impacts of biomass with CO2 Capture and Storage (Bio-CCS) on the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG). The main objective was to provide representatives from research, academia, and government a platform to share their views on the role of negative emissions as a crucial tool to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and limit disastrous climate change in this century. Nine speakers gave insightful presentations from diverse vantage points, making this workshop a resounding success.
Bio-CCS is key to reach Paris objectives
It is no longer enough to count on future climate technologies, energy efficiency, and potential changes in lifestyle of future generations to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Although essential in working towards the climate goals, not even a rapid deployment of all existing climate technologies will likely be able to limit the increase in levels of atmospheric CO2 sufficiently soon enough to stay within two degrees Celcius global warming.
Bio-CCS is a technology that combines the usage of sustainably sourced biomass with the permanent storage of the emitted CO2 in the process. Since the vegetation, from which the biomass is produced, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere it grows, the post- combustion CO2 to be stored underground will contribute to negative CO2 emissions. Bio-CCS, if done right, allows for the net decrease of CO2 in the atmosphere while at the same time providing energy for a growing world population.
The speakers at the event emphasised that the time is ripe for the roll out of CCS and Bio-CCS.
“Deep cuts to all emitting sectors are needed immediately, requiring a mix of electrification, demand reduction, efficiency gains and CCS for residual emissions.The longer we postpone deep decarbonisation of industry, the more we will have to depend on measures such as Bio-CCS in the future, and the less likely we are to stop warming at 2°C” said Keith Whiriskey Policy Manager Climate Technologies at Bellona Europa.
Read more about Bio-CCS here.
The first speaker, IPCC 5th Climate Change Assessment Report modeller Detlef van Vuuren (University of Utrecht) highlighted that, using the climate models provided by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the deployment of Bio-CCS could help in retaining global temperature rise below 2°C. However, any kind of Bio-CCS needs to be implemented in combination with other climate technologies and reductions of emissions.
Whiriskey (Bellona Europa) discussed the indispensable nature of Bio-CCS in effectively tackling climate change, while at the same time highlighting its negative image among the public. The usage of biomass and the permanent geological storage of the post-combustion CO2 are both seen as controversial topics. There is a common misconception that all production of biomass is in competition with the production of food crops, that it intensifies deforestation, and that CCS slows, or even halts, the innovation and market penetration of renewable energy technologies.
However, Whiriskey points out that there is, unfortunately, no time to lose. “We have waited too long. Our options are reduced. We are facing fairly brutal carbon arithmetic now.”
The ability of technologies such as Bio-CCS to effectively reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere in the future, Whiriskey emphasised, should however not be taken as a free pass for the uninhibited emission of CO2 today. Nevertheless, “a failure to develop pathways for negative emissions technologies will make reaching a 2°C or below world next to impossible” according to Whiriskey. In other words, we don’t have the luxury to choose one pathway over the other, but desperately need to make work of both at once.
John Litynski (Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, CSLF) focussed on the scope of the planned CSLF report on CO2 removal. This report, to be published in the autumn of 2017, will be co-written by research institutes, representatives of academia and government, and civil society organisations including Bellona Europa. The report will highlight the importance of Bio-CCS and the measures that are needed for it to have a meaningful effect on climate policies.
Anders Lyngfelt (Chalmers University of Technology) discussed Chemical-Looping Combustion (CLC), a carbon capture technology which Bellona too is contributing to advance. This is a unique and innovative combustion technology that will be studied and developed in the project presented by Lyngfelt. CLC involves oxidation of fuels with solid oxygen carrier particles rather than with air, through which both the high energy penalty and the high capital cost associated with gas separation can be avoided. Because of this, CLC is expected to have at least 50% lower energy penalty and cost than current comparable CO2 capture technology.
Lyngfelt also spoke about the state of acceptance of CLC, and its combination with the combustion of biomass, as presented by the Swedish press. The negative depiction of Bio-CLC is an indication of the obstacles ahead for the deployment of both CLC and the usage of Bio-CCS in the effort to cut CO2 emissions and to reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Bellona, together with Chalmers University and several other partners, is co-organising a workshop on Bio-CLC and Bio-CCS in general in Stockholm, which will take place in June 2017.
The presentations are available here.
List of speakers:
Kristin Onarheim, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Detlef van Vuuren, Utrecht University
Samantha McCulloch, International Energy Agency
Kati Koponen, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Mathilde Fajardy, Imperial College London
Tim Kruger, Cquestrate
Keith Whiriskey, Bellona Europa
John Litynski, Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum
Anders Lyngfelt, Chalmers University of Technology