Carbon capture: Opportunity cost; opportunity, lost

Image: industrial emission stack spewing stuffBy Saskboy

One of the more ridiculous logical fallacies that climate change denialists use is that carbon dioxide can’t be pollution because it can also be breathed by plant life. It’s really sweet they care so much about plants’ respiration, but I’m a little more concerned with the survivability of humanity. (Never mind that most of these same people would probably soak dandelions with chemicals that would make your newborn’s toes curl.)

Why do I bring this up? Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is hitting some tough times. Sadly, this is the “clean energy” technology that the one-basket University of Regina has most of its “clean energy” research eggs in.

Here’s why the oil industry isn’t bothering with CCS:

“Our decision was essentially based on the fact that we could not see a way to make the economics of our CCS project work as we originally intended,” said Don Wharton, vice-president of policy and sustainability at TransAlta.

He said markets for pure carbon didn’t develop as expected, and federal and provincial governments took no steps to recognize the value of reduced emissions by implementing a price on carbon, for example, or a cap-and-trade system.

In short, despite nearly $800 million in government subsidies, the company had no incentive to invest in CCS.

Let’s keep in mind that the Harper Cons haven’t merely poured hundreds of millions of dollars into CCS: they’ve done so to the exclusion of any other climate-change funding (since their initial period of poorly-feigned interest in the environment when Stephane Dion was Lib leader).

Image: illustration of carbon capture processSix years later, and there’s no Made in Canada solution to climate change, as I predicted very easily. There are plenty of Made in America excuses, however. And as our society focuses on technologies that are designed to benefit the oil and coal industries, we shortchange innovation in renewable energy technology. The U of R has more than 12,000 students, yet it has one VAT windmill in testing mode on its 18 buildings, and zero production solar panels that I’m aware of. Yet it’s a world leader in CCS research. Could it be the Conservatives and Sask Party are content pretending that they are investing millions into Big Oil and Coal’s “clean energy,” while their investment will be totally useless to private [and crown] industry producing electricity?

Opportunity Cost; Opportunity, Lost. At least too much CO(2) means some healthy plants . . . somewhere. I guess human vegetables like to look out for their own kind.

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