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Net Benefits: The Idea of Pulling Carbon Dioxide out of the Atmosphere Is a Beguiling One. Could It Ever Become Real?
(The Economist) ...A report published last year by the American Physical Society (APS) put the cost of extracting and storing carbon dioxide using an air-capture system based on known technology at between $600 and $800 a tonne. That is about 80 times the current price of European carbon credits. At such prices it would take tens of trillions of dollars to deal with a year’s worth of carbon-dioxide emissions. And some think the APS’s estimates of costs are on the low side.
It was in large part to argue about that estimate that air-capture enthusiasts and their critics met in Calgary on March 7th-8th. The discussions were detailed, mostly civil, sometimes heated. They did not arrive at a meeting of minds, but they did demonstrate that the way people think about air capture is shifting. What was once seen as a way of tucking CO2
away for good is now increasingly thought of as a way of packaging it up for people willing to pay for it—including oil companies eager to sell more oil.
...Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies get extra petroleum out of depleted fields by squeezing CO2
into them. Normally, where that CO2
comes from would not matter—and there are much cheaper sources than air capture. But California now has a low-carbon fuel standard that takes account of the amount of carbon dioxide released in the delivery of a barrel of oil to market. Because an EOR system using atmospheric carbon dioxide removes, rather than emits, carbon dioxide, the fuel it produces would count as very low carbon indeed under California’s rules. That means it might command a premium worth the costs of air capture.
The other companies also have plans for using CO2
to make fuels, by feeding it to algae. READ MORE