Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Extracting Carbon from Nature Can Aid Climate but Will Be Costly:  U.N.

Schematic showing both terrestrial and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant. (Credit: Click to enlarge.
A little-known technology that may be able to take the equivalent of China's greenhouse gas emissions out of the carbon cycle could be the radical policy shift needed to slow climate change this century, a draft U.N. report shows.

Using the technology, power plants would burn biomass - wood, wood pellets, or plant waste like from sugar cane - to generate electricity while the carbon dioxide in the biomass is extracted, piped away and buried deep underground.

Among techniques, a chemical process can strip carbon dioxide from the flue gases from combustion.

The process - called bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) - would make the power plants not only carbon-neutral but actively a part of extracting carbon dioxide from a natural cycle of plant growth and decay.

The technology could be twinned in coming decades with planting forests that absorb carbon as they grow, according to the study obtained by Reuters.

It would be a big shift from efforts to fight global warming mainly by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases from mankind's use of fossil fuels in factories, power plants and cars, but may be necessary given the failure so far to cut rising emissions.

"BECCS forms an essential component of the response strategy for climate change in the majority of scenarios in the literature" to keep temperatures low, according to a report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Extracting Carbon from Nature Can Aid Climate but Will Be Costly:  U.N.

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