Wednesday, November 21, 2012

GEF Advised Not to Fund SRM, Support Possible for CDR

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world's largest environmental funding body, has been advised by its Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) to refrain from supporting SRM geoengineering projects, but that some CDR technologies such as BECCS and biochar may warrant funding support.  In a newly released advisory document, STAP concludes that,

Overall, it would appear that the GEF should avoid funding SRM projects until the risks and uncertainties are more clearly defined.  The GEF could consider supporting biological atmospheric CO2 removal projects that seem to have lower risk, but only after a greater understanding of costs and barriers from on-going R&D has been established.  Geoengineering may remain a potential option if the crossing of tipping points leading to abrupt climate change occurs, and if all other GHG reduction approaches fail. (p. 56)

If the Facility adopts this as official policy, there will be significant ripple effects across major international financial institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and African Development Bank (these and other organizations administer GEF-funded projects).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Binational CO2 Storage Standard Released

CSA Group and the International Performance Assessment Center for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide (IPAC-CO2) have jointly released the world's first binational standard for geologic storage of CO2.  The new standard (CSA Z741) is designed for use in both Canada and the US.  It is applicable to storage in saline aquifers and depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, as well as EOR, and covers the entire project life cycle from site screening through post-closure.  Standards developers intend these new guidelines to serve as the foundation for International Standards Organization (ISO) efforts to create a global CO2 storage standard.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CO2-EOR Tax Bill Introduced in US Senate

A new bill proposing changes to the existing CO2 sequestration tax credit has been introduced in the US Senate.  As it stands currently, the US tax code offers tax credits of $20 per metric ton of CO2 sequestered for conventional CCS operations, and $10 per metric ton for CO2-EOR.  S. 3581, put forward by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), would convert this into a competitively awarded system managed by the Department of the Treasury.  Credits would be available for 10 years, with a total cap of 75 million metric tons.  This proposed modification was the key recommendation made by the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) in a report issued earlier this year (see DAC and EOR, 4/22).  NEORI argues that this revision to the carbon storage credit would be revenue-positive, would quadruple US CO2-EOR production over 40 years, and would result in the permanent sequestration of 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Labeling Initiative Seeks to Promote Biochar-Grown Food

A new, Kansas-based initiative has been launched called "Cool-Food," which aims to institute a carbon smart food labeling system based on utilization of biochar.  Farmers seeking to use the label to differentiate their food must meet seven qualifications:

  1. A minimum amount of biochar per acre must be added to their farmland.
  2. A Farmer's Stewardship Pledge must be signed.
  3. A mineral soil test must be conducted.
  4. An organic carbon soil test must be conducted.
  5. A soil biology assessment must be carried out.
  6. A soil management plan must be developed.
  7. Sustainable marketing practices must be followed.
In addition to trademarking a Cool-Food logo for use in labeling, project proponents also intend to develop a Standards & Practices guide as well as a Grower's Manual to assist local farmers.  Outreach is already underway, and organizers hope to roll out the program next summer in Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas).  Backers of the project plan to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New South Wales Adopts Cloud-Seeding Program

Weather modification, close cousin of geoengineering, received a boost recently in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), where the State Parliament has officially adopted a cloud-seeding program intended to enhance snowfall in the Snowy Mountains.  Parliamentarians hope that more snow  will bolster the local ski industry and increase water resources.  This new legislation follows field trials that are believed to have augmented snowfall by fourteen percent.  Similar programs have been implemented in Rocky Mountain states and provinces in North America.

Monday, November 5, 2012

LC/LP Joins in Condemnation of Haida Experiment

At the conclusion of joint meetings held in London last week, parties to the London Convention/London Protocol released a statement condemning the recent Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation (HSRC) ocean fertilization experiments off British Columbia: "The Parties to the London Convention and London Protocol (LC/LP) express grave concern regarding the deliberate ocean fertilization activity that was recently reported to have been carried out in July of 2012 in waters off the Canadian west coast."  The statement received unanimous backing, including from Canada and the US.

An attorney for HSRC and its parent Old Massett Village Council (OMVC) reacted with indignation.  "You know, this is a clash between big science and big NGOs, and village science and indigenous peoples," said Joe Spears.  He continued, "On a changing planet we need to have dialogue and discussion, you know.  Charles Darwin did not have a PhD, or he wasn't a tenured professor or he wasn't an NGO.  A lot of these are value judgments of people that have no understanding.  They're making statements.  It's irresponsible."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Short List Announced in UK CCS Funding Competition

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced four finalists in its £1 billion ($1.6 billion) CCS Commercialization Program funding competition, restructured and reintroduced earlier this year as the centerpiece of a national CCS Roadmap (see UK Relaunches CCS Policy, 4/16).  The finalists include:

  • Captain Clean Energy Project - A new 570 MW coal plant with pre-combustion capture in Grangemouth, Scotland, with offshore storage in depleted gas fields.
  • Peterhead - A 340 MW post-combustion retrofit to an existing gas plant in Peterhead, Scotland.
  • Teesside Low Carbon Project - A pre-combustion capture project linked to a coal gasification plant in England, with storage in both a depleted oil field and a saline aquifer.
  • White Rose Project - A new 304 MW coal-fired station with oxyfuel capture in North Yorkshire.
All shortlisted projects are fully integrated across the CCS value chain.  The Teesside and White Rose projects are also finalists for EU NER300 first round funding, although neither is considered a leading contender (see Update on NER300, 8/10).  Peterhead is on the NER300 reserve list for possible second round funding.  (The Don Valley project, a top NER300 candidate, was not submitted to the UK competition.)