On biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

Biomass energyIf my Friday post got you down, this might cheer you up a little bit. After the study quoted three weeks ago, another one states that we could actually limit rising temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But we have to act FAST.

This one was carried out by the Climate Action Network and Climate Analytics and shows that global emissions levels have to peak in 2020 if we want our beautiful planet to cool from the middle of the century. Now that’s good news !

One of the leading scientists quoted in RTCC stated that we need new technologies, a derivative of carbon capture and storage.

Named biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), it is hailed as a solution. Indeed, it has negative carbon dioxide emissions.

As you know, plants when growing absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas to date. Burning them release the carbon dioxide they stored. But if this was stored in the ground as CCS should / could be able to do it, doing so wouldn’t contribute to warming temperatures.

BECCS has been the subject of studies in the past, both at Tyndall in the United Kingdom and at Stanford in the United States. The latter have stated that by 2050 it could account by 10 gigatonnes per year. Now that’s impressive.

Now there is two problems with that : First we know that first generation biofuels are NOT a sustainable solution. Perhaps the next ones will be.

Urban trees (Flickr)To solve this one, we could be to plant trees in the countryside, in citieseverywhere. (see my series of article on that very topic, ” Plant, baby, plant “). Then these trees would be chopped down and burned with BECCS. Of course, other trees would have to replace them if we want this solution to be truly sustainable.

The second problem I have with BECCS is that to date, there is just too much uncertainty on CCS and it fails to deliver… Could these issues could be solved in time ?

Nonetheless, reading the Wikipedia page on BECCS, one can learn that this solution has been supported by no less than the IPCC and the OECD.

Now I better understand the fuss about carbon capture and storage. Using it to keep using coal or natural gas doesn’t make sense (in terms of sustainability), but using it to decrease in net terms the amount of carbon dioxide makes much more sense.

To conclude and to get back to the Climate Action Network study quoted by RTCC, this promising technology doesn’t prevent us from working a lot on energy efficiency and renewables.

I hope you liked this article and look forward to reading your opinion.


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