As the global temperatures continue to climb, the developed world is beginning to seriously consider the effects of their industry on the environment, most notably the levels of Green House Gases they emit. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the most abundant gases emitted by industry.
What is Carbon Capture Technology?
The basic premise of carbon capturing is to take all of the GHG emissions that would normally go up into the atmosphere, and to pump them underground into geological formations or into underground bodies of water.
Many experts agree that since geological formations are capable of holding oil and gas underground for millions of years, the same is probably true for GHG’s.
Are There Skeptics of Carbon Capture Technology?
Engineers have been doing this for decades now, but for a slightly different purpose. They have used CO2 gas to pump out the last remaining drops of oil from near-exhausted oil fields, and the technique would need to be slightly adjusted.
Yet skeptics claim that the technology is nowhere near where geologists and engineers need it to be in order to pump, and store, millions of tons of carbon underground.
Others claim that the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere using this technology is merely a drop in the bucket. In Alberta, the government has said by 2018 there would be five carbon capture sinks in operation, removing about 10 million tons from the atmosphere. Yet this will not even account for the increase in C02 emissions expected between 2009, and 2020 when emissions are expected to peak.
What Do Proponents of Carbon Capture Technology Say?
Industry experts defend this timetable for getting the technology operational because, if they were to move any faster, they would lose their competitiveness on the global market. The cost right now for capturing and storing carbon is between $40 and $100 per ton, with an average of approximately $80 overall.
This would be disasterous for the provinces who rely on the billions of dollars of revenue generated by the oil fields, and for the thousands of jobs they create in the local economy.
About two/thirds of Alberta’s pledge to reduce CO2 emissions by 200 million tons in the next 40 years comes from Carbon Capture and Storage technology, so the techniques and technology must be perfected and viable in the long term planning of Alberta’s economic future.
Who Pays for Carbon Capture Technology?
As stated earlier, the costs associated with this technology are very high, and many companies are forced to pay for it themselves, thus resulting in less enthusiasm for the overall reduction in C02 emissions.
Alberta has vowed to use $2 billion, plus another $1 billion from the federal government, for funding small projects throughout the province, but who will receive the money and how much is still up in the air. The pipelines alone could cost billions of dollars.
Right now for most companies, the technology is still too young and not a reasonable investment for them to make right now, which has only served to inhibit the future growth of the technology. And the lack of a regulatory framework for the industry has further scared off possible investment from industry and researchers.
Right now the technology is still in its infancy, as business people and engineers continue to develop the financing and technological wherewithal to plan the long-term feasibility of this carbon capture technology.
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