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🌳 Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act, Chevron & Promising Technologies

Carbon Removal Newsroom

Photo by Luis Ramirez / Unsplash

Host: Radhika Moolgavkar
Guests: Dr. Holly Jean Buck | Assistant Professor in Environment & Sustainability | University at Buffalo &
Peter Minor | Director of Science and Innovation | Carbon180
Category: 🌳 Carbon Capture

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:15] HB: “Chevron made headlines with a “failed carbon capture and storage project”. […] This project […] in Western Australia […] is on a $54 billion liquefied natural gas plant. The CCS project cost about 3 billion and it's the world's largest CCS project dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. So kind of the showpiece of CCS as part of mitigation. […] And so it was a condition of building this plant with Australian government that Chevron would store 100 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. And there were a bunch of difficulties with this project, which is not unusual with mega projects. […] So it was a couple years late, it had some welding issues, it had issues around water entering pipelines, and corrosion risks and sand clogging reservoirs and various various things, right. So it failed to meet these requirements set out by the government to lock away 80% of emissions generated within its first five years. Now it's facing some fines and a lot of bad press.”

[6:12] HB: “There's a question, should we be using CCS technology on fossil fuel operations or maybe we should just be focusing on carbon removal? That's kind of my position. I think that we can decarbonize the power sector with renewables and battery storage, and possibly some amount of nuclear. […] That said, […] I think there's a bunch of lessons here. One is about the importance of regulation and that they had to monitor and now they have a fine […]. But also, there's trade offs around building fast and cheap, which is going to be a huge issue with scaling up these technologies and […] the quality of the work. Are they using the most expensive best materials or shoddy ones? […] And then there's a question of, should these emitting companies like Chevron be the same companies responsible for the carbon capture and storage?

[9:25] PM: “I think carbon emissions are one piece of the question and we need to think as a community and […] from a technology perspective, how […] we deal with emissions. But emissions aren't just carbon. […] It is also pollutions of other kinds. So […] how [do] you reduce other types of pollutants and how do you make sure that frontline communities aren't the ones being affected by this industry and by the existence of fossil fuel activities? […] Just saying that we're going to build technologies to cover our carbon footprint isn't really enough.”

[10:54] PM: “The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act […] [is] potentially a really big deal. […] There are existing incentives for people deploying new carbon removal and carbon capture technologies through things like the 45Q tax credit or through the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). But it's largely believed that those two are probably not going to be enough to really advance the deployment of direct air capture and likewise technologies in the scale that we need in the timeframe that we have.

[11:56] PM: “[The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act] is a 40% investment tax credit or 60% production tax credit. And what that means is for the investment tax credits, effectively 40% of the upfront cost of deploying these new technologies is going to be written off through your taxes. And so it can really lower the bar for what is required to actually develop and fund some of these new state of the art plants. […] [Also] it also reduces the thresholds of how much removals you actually need to have before you are eligible for this credit. […] And so this, I think, brings incentives to the field where it is today and leaves a lot of optionality for new ideas, new technologies, and new people to think outside of the box.”

[14:33] PM: “If you look at […] the scale of carbon removal that we're going to need to have an impact on climate change, we're talking about in the billions of tonnes. So when you look at what has been put online today, it rounds down to zero. Effectively nothing has been done in the scope of what we need to accomplish. So it's always really important to keep that in mind. So this is just the very earliest days of actually trying to build the right solutions. So how can we possibly say which are the right solutions, which are the ones that are going to win and scale? We don't know. So we at Carbon180 believe in supporting all of these solutions.”

[21:13] PM: “Direct air capture […] has the opportunity to be very high quality […] in the sense that you can remove CO2 in a very verifiable way. You have this pure stream CO2 that you can then store durably, it can scale with other technologies that we've seen, like photovoltaics or batteries. This, I think, really fits into how we think about the technology development landscape and moving into deployments. This is a very clear roadmap for how we can actually accomplish this and get to billions of tons. […] It's very expensive, but we're just at the very top of the cost curve and have a long way to drive down.”

[22:06] PM: “Oceans, of course, are also very exciting, because there's just […] so much carbon in general, and […] a lot of CO2 in the ocean. […] It's denser […] than we have in the air. So from a technology perspective, it might be easier to pull out. And we're just getting started there. […] Rocks are fantastic. It's nature's way of storing CO2 in the long term. […] and so why not just use what nature has developed to try to either keep CO2 in a geologic form for long term or just use the mechanisms. […] And […] how can you argue with land? […] We all love trees, we love soil. […] Nature is a self assembling technology. […] We actually have to do so much less work there.”

[24:34] HB: “[A] no brainer is blue carbon. We should be protecting wetland ecosystems and not destroying them in the first place. It might not be giga tons of giga tons of removals, but I think it's one of the most important things to be pursuing right now for a variety of ecosystem and human system reasons. The thing I think we should that's intriguing that we should be focusing some research on is direct ocean capture […]. And so kind of on a lab scale, there are people working on new technology that could turn the CO2 in the oceans into minerals by pulling seawater through a machine, giving it an electric charge that sparks chemical reactions that will create limestone and you know, other other minerals [that are] magnesium based. So then you have materials that you can dispose of, you also could have hydrogen as a byproduct of that. I think it's pretty interesting work in the initial stages.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: “Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act & Chevron's Troubled Carbon Capture & Storage Scheme”)
🕰️ 28 min | 🗓️ 07/30/2021
✅ Time saved: 26 min

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