NEWS Clean Technica discusses the recent RAEL paper in Nature Climate Change on carbon negative energy systems



The large-​​scale uti­liza­tion of elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from bio­mass part­nered with car­bon cap­ture tech­nol­ogy — dubbed bioen­ergy with car­bon cap­ture and seques­tra­tion (BECCS) by the researchers — could result in greatly reduced emis­sions and a “carbon-​​negative” power sys­tem in the west­ern US, accord­ing to new research from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berkeley.

Study lead author, Daniel Sanchez, noted in a recent press release that this com­bi­na­tion could poten­tially off­set the car­bon emis­sions asso­ci­ated with other sources as well — such as fos­sil fuel power plants, and the trans­porta­tion sec­tor (diesel– and gas-​​powered vehicles).

o be spe­cific, the new research found that BECCS when com­bined with aggres­sive renew­able energy deploy­ment and fos­sil fuel–associated emis­sions reduc­tions could result in a “carbon-​​negative power sys­tem” in West­ern North Amer­ica by the year 2050 — with an up to 145% emis­sions reduc­tion as com­pared against 1990 levels.

Reduc­tions that sig­nif­i­cant could occur with as lit­tle as 7% of total elec­tric­ity com­ing from BECCS, accord­ing to the new find­ings — which were arrived at via com­puter modeling.

In many of the other sce­nar­ios explored by the new research, the off­set­ting of car­bon emis­sions pro­vided by BECCS was more valu­able to the elec­tric sys­tem than the elec­tric­ity pro­duced itself was. Of course this kind of “value” is a rel­a­tive one — as all val­ues are. If gov­ern­ments don’t value the off­set­ting of car­bon emis­sions, for instance,…




Those behind the new research admit that bio­mass + car­bon cap­ture is still a bit of an unknown in many ways, so the find­ings are ten­ta­tive ones, until put into prac­ticem that is — which is what the researchers want.


There are a lot of com­mer­cial uncer­tain­ties about car­bon cap­ture and seques­tra­tion tech­nolo­gies,” stated researcher Sanchez. “Nev­er­the­less, we’re tak­ing this tech­nol­ogy and show­ing that in the West­ern United States 35 years from now, BECCS doesn’t merely let you reduce emis­sions by 80% – the cur­rent 2050 goal in Cal­i­for­nia – but gets the power sys­tem to neg­a­tive car­bon emis­sions: you store more car­bon than you create.”

Pos­si­bly… that is. I admit to hav­ing some doubts about this, but inter­est­ing work nonetheless.

Image Credit: UC Berkeley



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