Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Farce of Canada's Carbon Capture

Canada's carbon capture and storage efforts are grossly inadequate. Not only will these projects do little to reduce Canada's GHG emissions, the three major companies involved in tar sands exploitation have pulled out of  Alberta's carbon capture efforts.

As reported in the Globe and Mail, the three biggest companies involved in the project aimed at reducing Alberta’s carbon footprint have withdrawn.

TransAlta Corp. (TA-T), along with partners Enbridge Inc. (ENB-T) and Capital Power Corp. (CPX-T), cancelled their $1.4-billion carbon capture and storage effort, opting to pay the penalties for emissions rather than cutting them.

Even if the carbon capture and storage were to go ahead as planed it would not make much of a difference. In 2011 the Pembina Institute evaluated Canada's environmental policies as input to the Climate Change Performance Index 2012. It gave an overview of Canada's proposed energy policies and their impact on green house gas reduction. The Institute pointed out that the $800 million proposed for carbon capture and storage would reduce Canada's emissions by only six percent.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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2 comments:

Kali Taylor, ICO2N said...

It is interesting that you use the term "grossly inadequate" to describe Canada's CCS efforts when in all actuality Canada is a world leader on carbon capture and storage. Although TransAlta and its partners withdrew from the field (on a power project, not an oil sands project) three other large CCS projects in Alberta have signed funding agreements with the province and are on track to be built and operating by 2015. In addition, SaskPower’s Boundary Dam CCS project is proceeding, and Cenovus’ Weyburn enhanced oil recovery project, Canada’s first CCS project, has been operating successfully in Saskatchewan for a decade. In B.C., Spectra Energy is evaluating CCS opportunities in the Fort Nelson area, and some work on CCS is under way in the Maritimes.

It is also worth mentioning that the emission reductions from a large-scale CCS project are significant. The projects that are going ahead in Canada are approximately 1Mt CO2/yr which actually equates to taking 200,000 cars off the road per year, every year.

CCS offers the largest single opportunity for Canada to reduce its CO2 footprint in the next 40 years and is comparable in cost to other greenhouse-gas-reduction technologies. Globally, the International Energy Agency has identified CCS as a “crucial part of worldwide efforts to limit global warming” and has estimated that CCS could contribute about one-fifth of reductions needed by 2050 in a least-cost emissions reduction portfolio.

It is a crucial technology for a sustainable future and if you would like more information about the role of CCS in Canada see this page: http://www.ico2n.com/ccs-in-canada

Richard Matthews said...

Technologies that reduce emissions are indeed of value, but they pale in comparison to the amount of emissions being produced.

Even if the most optimistic scenarios pan-out for carbon sequestration in Canada, the amount of emissions produced by projects like the tar sands and coal fired energy production far eclipse the small percentage of carbon that would be captured.

The carbon sequestration effort amounts to a proverbial drop in the bucket.

Canada quit Kyoto and will not meet its 2020 commitments of 17% reduction in annual GHG emissions (relative to 2005). Tar sand rich Alberta is calling for a rise in GHG emissions until 2020. It is also clear that continued oil sands expansion is incompatible with any reasonable scenario for achieving a global target of 450 ppm CO2 by 2050.

I think there is ample reason to make the claim that Canada's carbon sequestration efforts are grossly inadequate.