Carbon Emission Reduction Via Biomass and CCS Technology

Around 31 gigatonnes of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions enter the atmosphere annually.  According to a global energy consultancy , by 2050 a possible ten gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year could be taken out of the atmosphere and stored underground, cutting current annual carbon emissions from the energy sector by a third.  A study commissioned by the International Energy Agency’s Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme will see whether there is potential to combine biomass with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce negative emissions while producing energy while at the same time removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

There has been six routes identified in the power and transport for the production of negative emissions which have included biomass combustion and gasification for power production, biomass conversion to bioethanol and biodiesel.  After technical limitations are taken into account, the maximum annual potential is approximately six gigatonnes of negative emissions in the biofuel sector and ten gigatonnes in the power sector.  Due to its relatively low cost bioethanol production is the most significant option for the short term.

The study concludes that the results are very sensitive to costs for carbon dioxide and biomass.  If the current lack of clear economic incentive can be overcome to store carbon from biomass, it also states that initial action would involve a more detailed look at the most suitable regions  where sustainable biomass production and conversion can be combined with CCS.

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