Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another carbon sequestration solution, maybe.....

I was reading Clean Break by Tyler Hamilton, energy reporter for the Toronto Star, and he latest post is about "biochar", a process by which you turn carbon containing material into a charcoal like material.

I find this another interesting way to capture CO2 and store. The higher the demand is for solutions, the more interesting ideas are going to come out of the woodwork. Some of these ideas will become economic and be able to take green house gasses out of the atmosphere fast enough and large enough quantities to make a difference.

When there is a problem and there is some way for people to make a gain out of it, the forces of innovation work very, very quickly. Once someone figures out how to make money getting GHGs out of the atmosphere, there will be a flood of people trying to do the same. Very quickly the costs will come down and come down dramatically.

If we see the sort of advances we have seen in things circuits on a chip, or the cost to sequence DNA, or various other new technologies, we are likely to see some very inexpensive solutions for capture and storage of CO2 within ten years.

I look around at how well innovation works when there is a market demand for the service or product, I have no strong worries about the future. Frankly I see us reaching a steady state for GHG emissions within five to ten years and I see us being able to reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2025. The bigger problem between 2025 and 2050 is going to be complaints from the cold nations that things are going too quickly with respect to stopping the greenhouse effect.

The people calling out for us to use fewer resources, to consume less, to not have the first world lifestyle we are used to are going to be in for a surprise when the clear solution for global warming will be through capture and storage. The goal of the people seeking for us to use less is often their core political belief and global warming has become their tool to attack the status quo.

The future is going to have us having more cars, bigger houses and more toys. It is this global desire that will make it very attactive for people to figure out how to capture the carbon so that we do not have to give up the good life we are used to.

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