Greenpeace Takes on Manmade Carbon Sequestration

Artificial cloudsGreenpeace, always good for stirring up trouble, have released a report entitled False Hope to coincide with the seventh annual Carbon Capture & Sequestration conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The report is said to be “…critically examining the status and promise of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.”

Needless to say, Greenpeace aren’t overly happy.

The conclusion of the 44 page report is that CCS technology is not all that it is cracked up to be, and that despite what coal and power industries are saying, CCS “…will not prevent more than a whiff of global warming pollution from reaching the atmosphere in the next few decades”

“Carbon capture and storage is a scam. It is the ultimate coal industry pipe dream,” said Emily Rochon, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace International and author of the report.

Greenpeace however have rather naively presented no other option, other than renewable energy options such as solar and wind which, wonderful as they are, are as close to full scale realization as CCS is. From their own website, they rather childishly say;

What makes most sense is not building coal-fired power plants in the first place. Carbon is already ‘stored’ safely underground: we call it coal. Let’s leave it there. Adapting an old phrase, “when you find yourself in a (climate) hole, the first thing is to stop digging”.

They also note that CCS hasn’t been used on any large-scale coal-fired power plants on Earth; however it has been used in other energy production facilities.

A quick trip to Wikipedia points to four industrial-scale projects that are in operation around the world, including a natural gas site in Salah, Algeria, which sees CO2 separated from the natural gas and then stored in to the subsurface at a rate of 1.2 million tons per year.

But Greenpeace, backed by 112 green groups from 21 nations around the world, are not the only ones weighing in on this discussion. Stephan Singer, head of the WWF’s European Climate and Energy Program in Brussels, has noted that “Carbon capture and storage is not an ideal solution, but it buys us time. We believe it is part of the solution — an emergency exit.”

Singer’s point of view seems to be the most logical as well. CCS buys us time to continue to invest money in to renewable energies – like solar and wind, those two that Greenpeace are so fond of – so that at a point in the future, these technologies can take over from CCS. Anything else is simply misguided, because as much as we may not like it, we are almost entirely dependent upon coal at the moment, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Photo Courtesy of hAdamsky via Flickr

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