Given that oil and gas producers dominate the sector, many environmental groups and civil society organizations suspect that investments in Carbon, Capture and Storage (CCS) are being used to divert attention and resources away from a quicker build-out of renewable energy systems and other proven methods of addressing climate change. At the end of 2022, as several of the world’s largest petrochemical firms announced ambitious CCS investment plans, the European Union finally released a draft of their proposed CCS framework. As lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum discusses, hundreds of environmental, climate and civil society groups, including the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, immediately deemed it a “smokescreen for inaction.”
The U.S.’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been hailed as both a jobs-creating infrastructure stimulus and a clean energy booster. To ensure bi-partisan support in the otherwise polarized United States, it also provides generous tax credits for investments in carbon capture and sequestration or carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Beyond the $12 billion in other government support for CCS, bonus funds are now available to prove out experimental “Direct Air Capture” (DAC) technology. Recently Airbus bought 400,000 tons of carbon removal credits from a planned DAC facility in Texas’ oil-soaked Permian Basin. When operational in 2024, owner Occidental Petroleum promises it will be capable of sucking one million tons of CO2 out of the sky every year. And as lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews, Oxy will then use that CO2 to produce millions of barrels of climate friendlier “net-zero oil.” Confused? Welcome to America’s suck rush.
Despite our awareness that burning fossil fuels is the biggest driver of climate change, CO2 emissions likely increased by another 1.0% in 2022, hitting a new record high of 36.6bn tonnes. While certainly it would be better to switch to low or no-carbon energy sources, another potential solution, one mainly championed by the oil and gas industry, is to capture as much CO2 as possible and store it underground. Though scientists begrudgingly accept that some mixture of carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems will need to be deployed to avoid dangerous global heating, to date it’s unclear if the technology actually works. Worse, the vast majority of operating CCS plants actually use captured CO2 to produce more oil. But seen as critical to the emerging hydrogen economy as well as solving climate change, with dozens of new CCS projects announced worldwide this year, in this three-part series, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews the scene.
The global energy system is undergoing a major transformation. Fossil fuel prices are soaring, and extreme weather and war are causing massive blackouts and energy shortages. A clean-energy transition is no longer just an option, but an absolute requirement for survival. As countries shift away from dirty fuels, governments and corporations are increasingly looking toward hydrogen as part of the solution. Robert Howarth has the details. This Piece was originally published on NikkeyAsia.
Promoted as a vital tool to slow climate change, hydrogen (H2) is set to decarbonize long-distance transportation, steel and other industries while utilities plan to blend it with fossil gas for electrical generation. Yet 96% of H2 is currently produced from fossil fuels – mostly gas – resulting in massive carbon pollution. Though industry counters with promises of capturing and storing that CO2 – so called “blue” H2, there’s been no peer-reviewed data available to refute their claims it’s clean. Until now. A new life cycle assessment published in the Journal Energy Science & Engineering by influential scientists Robert Howarth and Mark Z Jacobson finds that instead of being an improvement, blue H2 is at best a “distraction” away from genuinely green solutions. Lead blogger, podcaster and advisor to the Energy Transition, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the study and its implications in the first of a series piercing through some of the hydrogen hype.
Though increasingly framed as a key way to slow climate change, for most commercial Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) operations, selling the carbon they capture to produce more fossil fuels through Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) production is the only way they can ensure profits for investors. According to a count by the Global CCS Institute, of the 28 currently operable CCS complexes worldwide, 22 rely on EOR as their back end “storage” system. CCS advocates hope that under the right public policy regimes, this profit-making motive will help scale up CCS operations while driving costs down. Getting the public onboard means selling CCS as a way to prevent climate change, but who pays when they fail? L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews one of 2020’s biggest CCS disasters as the fourth part of the on-going Seduction series.
As many nations develop net-zero carbon plans both to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and address the climate crisis, many are leaning heavily upon unproven and misunderstood Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technologies. Despite billions of dollars spent in research and development, it’s unclear how much environmental progress is actually achieved by CCS. Not only is there little accurate data around how much carbon has really been buried, but there’s reason to believe CCS will actually increase overall greenhouse gas emissions. In the third part of his “Seduced by CCS” series, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews CCS’ math and how utilizing it to produce more oil only makes things worse.
Touted as a key component within many emerging national net-zero emissions strategies, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) received a huge credibility boost from several recent IPCC and IEA studies. But CCS’ greatest advantage is that it enables oil majors to have a market in an otherwise decarbonized economy. What it doesn’t do is stop the pollution stream. Framed as a climate solution, in fact most current and planned projects use the CO2 they capture to produce more fossil fuels through various enhanced oil recovery (EOR) schemes. As part of an ongoing series deconstructing CCS, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews some recent history.