Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage

Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a greenhouse […]

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Climate State

Date Posted:

September 9, 2013

Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a greenhouse gas mitigation technology which produces negative carbon dioxide emissions by combining biomass use with geologic carbon capture and storage. The concept of BECCS is drawn from the integration of trees and crops, which extract carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere as they grow, the use of this biomass in processing industries or power plants, and the application of carbon capture and storage. BECCS is a form of carbon dioxide removal, along with technologies such as biochar, carbon dioxide air capture and biomass burial.

According to a recent Biorecro report, there is 550 000 tonnes CO2/year in total BECCS capacity currently operating, divided between three different facilities (as of January 2012).

Biochar / Biokohle / Pflanzenkohle

Biochar / Biokohle / Pflanzenkohle

It was pointed out in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a key technology for reaching low carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration targets. The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppm decrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and according to the International Energy Agency, the BLUE map climate change mitigation scenario calls for more than 2 gigatonnes of negative CO2 emissions per year with BECCS in 2050. According to Stanford University, 10 gigatonnes is achievable by this date.

The Imperial College London, the UK Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the Walker Institute for Climate System Research, and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change issued a joint report on carbon dioxide removal technologies as part of the AVOID: Avoiding dangerous climate change research program, stating that “Overall, of the technologies studied in this report, BECCS has the greatest maturity and there are no major practical barriers to its introduction into today’s energy system. The presence of a primary product will support early deployment.”

See also  Biochar - The Next Stage In Climate Action

According to the OECD, “Achieving lower concentration targets (450 ppm) depends significantly on the use of BECCS“. Source

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Climate State covers the broad spectrum of climate change, and the solutions, since around 2011 with the focus on the sciences. Views expressed on this site or on social media are not necessarily the views by Climate State – we endorse data, facts, empirical evidence.

6 Comments

  1. Vernon Brechin January 26, 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is an unrealistic pipe dream that was part of the COP21 agreement. It is a multi-faceted technology that has not been tried out and it is assumed it could be deployed on a massive scale within 35-years and sustained for many decades after that. The target date of 2050 is unrealistic since Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) effects are happening so rapidly that the collapse of industrial civilization is likely to take place long before that target date is reached. The underground storage efforts began about two decades ago and have not shown the promise that was expected. Finally, numerous studies have shown that many plants, grown under natural conditions do not fare well under conditions of increasing drought, increasing CO2 concentration above certain levels and increasing temperatures. Links to articles, on this last issue follow.

    Trees don’t suck up carbon dioxide as hoped
    Forests do not get a growth spurt from greenhouse gas
    http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050822/full/news050822-7.html

    Trees absorbing less CO2 as world warms, study finds
    · Shorter winters weaken forest ‘carbon sinks’
    · Data analysis reverses scientists’ expectations
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jan/03/climatechange.carbonemissions

    Satellite observations show global plant growth is not keeping up with CO2 emissions
    December 7, 2015
    Provided by: University of Minnesota
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-satellite-global-growth-co2-emissions.html

    Scientists just discovered a surprising new factor that could make global warming worse
    By Chelsea Harvey
    December 9, 2015
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/09/the-surprising-factor-affecting-carbon-storage-in-the-worlds-forests/

    The hidden factor that could undermine U.S. plans to cut carbon emissions
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/16/the-hidden-factor-that-could-complicate-u-s-plans-to-cut-carbon-emissions/

    Scientists say climate change could cause a ‘massive’ tree die-off in the U.S. Southwest
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/21/scientists-say-climate-change-could-cause-a-massive-tree-die-off-in-the-southwest/

    Increasingly severe disturbances weaken world’s temperate forests
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150829123817.htm

    Big Trees First to Die in Severe Droughts
    Large trees like sequoias and redwoods suffer most when its dry
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-trees-first-to-die-in-severe-droughts/

    Amazon rainforest losing ability to regulate climate, scientist warns
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/31/amazon-rainforest-deforestation-weather-droughts-report

    The slow collapse of the world’s forests on The Science Show
    http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgQm6yo3q7?play=true

    Drought Could Kill Off Many of the World’s Trees
    http://news.yahoo.com/drought-could-kill-off-many-worlds-trees-144139591.html

    NASA satellites reveal something startling about the future of food on Earth
    http://beta.finance.yahoo.com/news/nasa-satellites-reveal-something-startling-171000679.html?ltr=1
    (Above 95° F photosynthesis rate drops rapidly)

    Tens of Millions of Trees in Danger from California Drought
    http://carnegiescience.edu/node/1968

    Trees don’t suck up carbon dioxide as hoped
    Forests do not get a growth spurt from greenhouse gas
    http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050822/full/news050822-7.html

    Trees absorbing less CO2 as world warms, study finds
    · Shorter winters weaken forest ‘carbon sinks’
    · Data analysis reverses scientists’ expectations
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jan/03/climatechange.carbonemissions

    Satellite observations show global plant growth is not keeping up with CO2 emissions
    December 7, 2015
    Provided by: University of Minnesota
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-satellite-global-growth-co2-emissions.html

    Scientists just discovered a surprising new factor that could make global warming worse
    By Chelsea Harvey
    December 9, 2015
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/09/the-surprising-factor-affecting-carbon-storage-in-the-worlds-forests/

    The hidden factor that could undermine U.S. plans to cut carbon emissions
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/16/the-hidden-factor-that-could-complicate-u-s-plans-to-cut-carbon-emissions/

    Scientists say climate change could cause a ‘massive’ tree die-off in the U.S. Southwest
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/21/scientists-say-climate-change-could-cause-a-massive-tree-die-off-in-the-southwest/

    Increasingly severe disturbances weaken world’s temperate forests
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150829123817.htm

    Big Trees First to Die in Severe Droughts
    Large trees like sequoias and redwoods suffer most when its dry
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-trees-first-to-die-in-severe-droughts/

    Amazon rainforest losing ability to regulate climate, scientist warns
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/31/amazon-rainforest-deforestation-weather-droughts-report

    The slow collapse of the world’s forests on The Science Show
    http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgQm6yo3q7?play=true

    Drought Could Kill Off Many of the World’s Trees
    http://news.yahoo.com/drought-could-kill-off-many-worlds-trees-144139591.html

    NASA satellites reveal something startling about the future of food on Earth
    http://beta.finance.yahoo.com/news/nasa-satellites-reveal-something-startling-171000679.html?ltr=1
    (Above 95° F photosynthesis rate drops rapidly)

    Tens of Millions of Trees in Danger from California Drought
    http://carnegiescience.edu/node/1968

    It would be wise to also consider past technologies that were once considered quite hopeful but which turned out to be great embarrassments. One example was the U.S. program called Project Plowshare that had it’s equivalent in the Soviet Russia. The program involved employing nuclear explosives for various civil engineering projects.

    • Profile photo ofadmin
      Climate State February 5, 2016 at 6:08 am - Reply

      Hello Vernon, thanks for your input. While I agree in part with you about \”BECCS a pipe dream\”, especially in regards to the yet to be proven CCS (Carbon capture and storage) technology (lack of long term tests, lack of uniformity due to individual site topography, and possible change in response to an increase of geomorphological features). However, the main focus of BECCS are biomass plants, and in particular Biochar. Biochar can be used in a number of ways to help keep carbon in soils, to make soils more resilient to droughts, or to simply store carbon for long periods.

      • Vernon Brechin February 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

        @Chris Machines – Thank you for your input and for your strong interest in increasing the use of biochar which I believe should increase in use. The problem, that I see, is that these solutions can’t come even close to solving the problem humans have gotten themselves into. The additional carbon, now in the atmosphere, is the product of dumping tens-of-millions of years worth of carbon into the atmosphere during the last 150-years.

        In my 70-years I’ve seen many statements of what can be done but many turned out to be impractical. These are often viewed as embarrassments and don’t get taught in our history.

        Those, involved in ‘engineered’ solutions, such as biochar may feel that some other issues may not be that important, such as the need to stop reproducing ourselves. Humans are a terminal pathological condition on Earth, like a highly malignant cancer is on an animal.

        I hope your efforts include a broad picture of the efforts that got us to where we are today.

        • Profile photo ofadmin
          Climate State February 6, 2016 at 2:33 am - Reply

          Well, in my opinion reproduction can only be solved through extending our reach into the Universe. This is a very futuristic thought, first provided by Isaac Asimov, and still hundreds of years away from becoming reality. In our today reality, in perspective of the current emissions, the developed countries caused most of it, but is a rather minor part of the global population. No question that other countries would very likely done the same, follow our path on old think, but it bag\’s the question if there is really a causal relationship between population and emissions, when factoring in a switch to clean technologies. This is ofc very complex and one child policies are important too. This also depends on education and things like how many people live in poverty (See Lester Brown\’s talks and books on the subject).

          That humans are like a cancer is true from a certain view, but humans are also able to do exactly the opposite. So far destruction rules… and so far i don\’t see how the world responds to the climate crisis in the way it would be required. But to get back to the context here, Biochar can certainly play a role in emissions reductions. Why this isn\’t yet done on a larger scale, i don\’t know.
          Another facebook page i moderate is here about Biochar news https://www.facebook.com/GlobalBiocharNews

          Related:
          These 6 Countries Are Responsible For 60% Of CO2 Emissions
          http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-countries-are-responsible-for-60-of-co2-emissions-2014-12

          Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions
          http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/20/90-companies-man-made-global-warming-emissions-climate-change

          List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

          Btw there is a new post about our possible future http://climatestate.com/2016/02/05/a-potential-future-world-scenario-driven-by-rapid-regional-changes/

          • Vernon Brechin February 6, 2016 at 6:59 am

            A recent study suggested that the recent rate of increase in human population growth is linked with our use of the highly concentrated energy contained in fossil fuels.

            I was a member of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in the late 1960’s and 1970s. We tried to implement policies that would eventually stop the U.S. population growth. The world population then was about half of what it is today. In response, opposition developed to our efforts. Talk of controlling overpopulation was common back then but now discussions are almost treated as taboo. Scientists started warning Congress about the threat of global warming a half-century ago. Despite all the highly intelligent people in this country our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. These are my experiences that have left me with a sense that humans are not about to come to their senses anytime soon.

            Modern global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas#/media/File:Global_Carbon_Emissions.svg

            I assure you that the vast majority of the Earth’s human population is clueless regarding the implications of the following graphic.

            How the world went from 170 million people to 7.3 billion, in one map
            http://www.vox.com/2016/1/30/10872878/world-population-map

            Graph of human population from 10,000 BCE – 2000 CE
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_overpopulation#/media/File:Population_curve.svg

            David Suzuki speaks about overpopulation
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x98KFcMJeo

            It took around 200,000 years for the Earth’s population of modern homo sapiens to reach one-billion, at around 1803 CE. During my 70 years the Earth’s human population has tripled to 7.38 billion people. Those, who don’t see anything significant in this fact, must be living in a state of denial.

            Having Children Brings High Carbon Impact
            http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/having-children-brings-high-carbon-impact/?_r=0

            Perhaps there was something here that you were not previously aware of.

          • Profile photo ofadmin
            Climate State February 6, 2016 at 3:35 pm

            James Lovelock believes that we are on a path to a planet which can only sustain so much. Disastrous heatwaves in Europe 2003 killed estimated 50.000 people in a couple of days. Many regions may become uninhabitable, because of the wet-bulb temperature, even a concern when for short episodes. Then possible acceleration through additional carbon release. Then unknowns in regards to oxygen producers in the Ocean and on land. On current emissions path it seems unlikely we get to these high population estimates by 2100. At the same time we contaminate our food chain, the ecosystems, adding additional stress. Maybe we are already in a realm where large parts of the population will vanish…

            This is such a complex topic, its hard to grasp for a single scientist. It affects our psyche, it can contribute to desperate panic driven actions, once larger events occur. In my opinion we should use our remaining time to prepare our civilization as best as possible. This would require a complete switch to a carbon zero economy (negative emission technologies and actions), this would mean to stay in best shape, so talent can prosper and to gain strength. With all the wars already going on, we should rather improve local conditions, based on systems driven by the new energy revolution.

            What appears to be the easiest fix is most likely not the best fix. We need real intelligence, to bring humans forward to the level required to go through this evolutionary boundary.

            Think of it, every intelligent species in the Universe will likely evolve under similar circumstances, a planet with ice at the poles, then starting to burn wood and charcoal….and at one point they will notice that the ice melts…

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