Carbon capture looks even dumber

Our government’s focus on carbon capture as a way of reducing emissions was always expensive.  Now it looks like it might not even work at all.

I’ve never supported carbon capture as a primary method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Even proponents admit that to make it economical will require decades of expensive investment, but their assumption is that we have to keep burning coal anyway, and this is a way of somehow, in the distant future, burying part of the waste from coal.  In the meantime, they figure we just have to burn coal the same old way we always did.

But we can see dramatic emissions reductions much more economically beginning today through investments in efficiency and emissions-free renewable generation.  This isn’t exactly a secret, but it threatens established interests who will say that we can never, ever get rid of fossil fuels.

So our federal government has kowtowed to these interests and, after slashing the budget for cutting emissions, redirected what little remains in the budget from housing retrofits and renewables to carbon capture and storage .  And so our emissions reduction budget is spent primarily at the Weyburn oilfield studying ways to perfect carbon capture, which, when it is finally mature perhaps two decades from now, will still emit residual carbon dioxide and sequester the majority at a cost of over $100 a tonne.  Of course, Mr. Harper hopes to apply the technology to the tarsands, where carbon capture is even more challenging than at coal plants, and is expected to cost over $300 a tonne, to make a product which will be expected to burn in a vehicle where the majority of emissions cannot be contained no matter how mature the technology becomes.

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