RPT-COLUMN-Capturing CO2 emissions remains frustratingly expensive: Kemp

Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:00pm EDT
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(Repeats July 10 column with no changes to text. John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

By John Kemp

LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Fossil fuels will remain an indispensable part of the global energy supply for at least the next 50 years, so a means must be found to burn them without pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

According to Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times: "(Just) as the civilisation of ancient Rome was built on slaves, ours is built on fossil fuels. What happened in the beginning of the 19th century was not an industrial revolution but an energy revolution. Putting carbon into the atmosphere is what we do."

But there is no necessary connection between using fossil fuels and belching CO2 skywards. In future, carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects could sever the link, enabling fossil fuels to be burned safely in power plants while storing the emissions underground.

Deploying CCS is essential if the rise in average global temperatures is to be limited to no more than 2 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century, according to the International Energy Agency ("Technology roadmap: carbon capture and storage" 2013).

"As long as fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries play dominant roles in our economies, carbon capture and storage will remain a critical greenhouse gas reduction solution," the agency warned in 2013. "There is no climate-friendly solution in the long run without CCS."

But progress towards deploying the technology remains achingly slow.