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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Diversions, distractions, and missed opportunities

The argument is often voiced that shale gas will stunt renewable energy growth. Yet in the midst of an explosion in US shale gas production, solar power had its best year ever in 2013 and prospects for the technology are (pardon the pun) bright. Wind power is expected to power nearly 5% of the nation's electricity in 2015

So where’s the negative impact?

Throwing every allegation about shale gas against the wall to see what sticks wastes time that we don’t have to fix our climate problem and to improve public health.  The conversation must urgently turn to how to properly regulate the practice and leverage shale gas to accelerate these hopeful trends and deploy more renewable energy. And to how we can require CCS on natgas to provide near zero carbon energy in the process.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A step change for CCS?

A natural gas-fired power plant in the UK will be the first in the world to be equipped with industrial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The Peterhead plant in Scotland will capture and store up to 90% of the CO2 emissions from one of its three turbines. Perhaps more importantly, it could propel adoption of CCS for natgas plants and provide a near-zero carbon form of power generation that facilitates renewable energy deployment. 

This article about the project is worth quoting:
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, [Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage] Director and Professor of CCS at the University of Edinburgh, said…“The flexible operation of this type of CCS linked to gas-fired power makes it an ideal complement to renewables, with the potential to infill electricity generation during variable wind output. 
…(T)he development of gas CCS projects has, until recently, lagged behind those focused on the use of coal. Despite offering several advantages – such as operational flexibility, cost of electricity and reduced volumes of CO2 for storage – the US Environmental Protection Agency ruled that CCS on gas is not yet ready for commercial deployment. The Peterhead project therefore carries wider international significance, opening the door to a step change reduction in CO2 emissions from power generation.
There have been calls for the natgas industry in Europe to champion CCS and similar opportunities identified here in the US. For natural gas to have a long-term energy role, and for the world to have a chance at mitigating global climate disruption, CCS may be THE critical technology. It is a must – in the UK and around the globe.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

The tyranny of low expectations

This might be typical of attitudes in communities with a history of resource extraction.

But it's still surprising, given thisthis, and this.