SRC is playing a leading role in strengthening Saskatchewan's forestry industry, by working to improve
forest management practices in the province and identify research needs for the sector.
Carbon Measurement, Monitoring and Verification
SRC has significant experience in
measuring, monitoring and verifying carbon sequestration in forest and agroforestry land use systems. We provided technical
expertise for Canada's first forestry-based carbon trading pilot project, and are helping to develop national and provincial
policies regarding carbon trading in the forestry and agricultural sectors. We are working with both public and private landowners
across the province in developing carbon sequestration projects that maximize carbon sequestration while providing a host
of other environmental benefits. We have technical expertise in carbon measurement technologies including biomass sampling,
soil sampling and analysis, remote sensing and modeling of carbon stock changes.
U.K.: Greenhouse Gases May Be Stored In Exhausted North Sea Oil Fields
By Jan Jun, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Britain has unveiled a new strategy to fight global warming. It
proposes to "trap" greenhouse-gas emissions from coal and gas-fueled power stations and pump them into now-exhausted oil fields
under the North Sea. Proponents say it is a way of returning fossil-based substances back where they came from. But critics
warn the scheme may be costly, and yield fewer benefits than the government expects.
London, 20 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Britain has had a hard time honoring its
obligations to the Kyoto treaty on global warming.
According to the agreement, the United Kingdom must cut its greenhouse-gas
emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050.
To reach that target, Malcolm Wicks, Britain's energy minister, is now
proposing a scheme to liquify industrial carbon-dioxide emissions, and store the liquid in now-empty oil- and natural gas-beds
under the floor of the North Sea.
Some experts support the idea. Professor Gordon MacKerron, a researcher
at the University of Sussex in Brighton and the head of the Sussex Energy Group, which acts as a scientific consultant to
energy firms, says the great advantage of oil or possibly gas wells is that they have very successfully managed to hold in
lots of oil and gas for very long periods in the past. "So you think with a bit of good engineering they could also hold in
carbon dioxide," he adds.
Wicks, in presenting his proposal, cites a study that he claims shows that
up to 85 percent of emissions from coal- and gas-fueled power stations could be stored this way. The British government is
investing $50 million in the scheme -- which, MacKerron says, is technologically viable, if not without its potential problems.
"We know that the Norwegians have already successfully pumped some carbon
dioxide in the Sleipner field down some more or less exhausted oil wells," MacKerron says. "Now, there are important environmental
questions about how long that will last. The issue seems to me as not one of technical feasibility, but of environmental and
legal acceptability, and of course, costs in the longer term."
The launch of such a program could meet stiff resistance when subject to
a public debate. It also remains to be seen whether the scheme would violate current international laws on the sea.
Other observers are more skeptical. Professor Wynn Grant is an environmental
specialist at the University of Warwick.
"This is a pilot scheme. It wouldn't have got as far as it was if it wasn't
technologically really feasible to a certain extent. So it's at least worth trying it out. But I don't think it's a real answer
to the problems with the greenhouse gases. The problem is that some of these other schemes, such as wind power, are not making
as fast progress as was hoped," Grant says.
Representatives of the energy industry have doubts as well. Some -- like
Leon Flexman, spokesman for the RWE npower electricity company -- say they like the idea, but aren't convinced it's viable.
"It's good that the government is putting money into the scheme, and I
think it is potentially one route to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But again, on an industrial scale there are significant
costs involved," Flexman says.
Flexman says the current priority for Britain's energy companies is to
find the most low-cost way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He says options like wind power are very promising, viable,
and do not require the large, long-term investments and technological risks the North Sea proposal does.
The government plan, he says, may have come "a bit prematurely."
Grant says the realization of the plan is likely still many years away.
But he says, if successful, the scheme could prove attractive for rapidly developing Asian countries like China and India,
which are continuing to rely on fossil fuels for their energy needs.
"It might be an interesting experiment for other countries who would also
be able to use disused oil fields in this way. It may be that it will be a money-earner for countries in the future," Grant
British companies, Grant adds, could profit enormously from developing
the required technology.
Copyright © 2005 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission
of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
New options sought for carbon dioxide
Funds granted to test underground storage near Rio Vista
Friday, June 10, 2005
Each year, America spews more than 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide
into the air.
What if that greenhouse gas, blamed for slowly cooking the planet, could
go someplace else?
A coalition of Western states and businesses is studying ways to inject
carbon dioxide deep underground, in depleted natural gas fields and saltwater pockets buried under thousands of feet of rock.
The federal Energy Department Thursday granted that coalition $14.3 million
for its next round of tests, which will pump 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide into two geologic formations near Rio Vista (Solano
County) and monitor the gas' movement.
The group, led by the California Energy Commission, also will study how
much carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere by replanting or better managing forests.
The effort goes by the awkward name of carbon sequestration, and its backers
view it as a necessity in a world addicted to fossil fuels. Future power plants, they hope, will strip carbon dioxide out
of their exhaust and inject the gas underground.
"We very definitely need to get into geologic storage," said David Hawkins,
director of the National Resources Defense Council's climate center. "We should have been doing this 10 years ago."
Sequestration has its limits. The technology needed to remove carbon dioxide
from smokestacks isn't cheap. There also isn't a practical way to capture carbon dioxide from cars.
Opponents complain that the government's interest in sequestration is a
dodge, a way to avoid committing to cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Those working in the field, however, consider it one
of several tools the United States and the world may need to slow the steady buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
"There's energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power -- and all
of those will play into how we as a society deal with carbon dioxide," said Sally Benson, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
who will head the California field tests.
The Energy Department announced $100 million in grants Thursday for sequestration
projects around the country.
One grant went to the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership,
which includes businesses and government agencies throughout the region. The partnership, usually referred to as Westcarb,
has already spent two years looking for underground locations that could safely store the gas.
In the next phase of testing, Westcarb researchers will inject carbon dioxide
-- bought from a commercial source, such as a refinery -- into two different kinds of geological formations.
At Rio Vista, they will pump gas into a depleted portion of a large natural
gas field. They will also store gas in a layer of saltwater trapped in the rock. That second approach will also be tried at
a site in Arizona.
Others have already demonstrated how to place the gas underground. Chevron
Corp., for example, uses carbon dioxide injection to extract oil from a field near Rangely, Colo. The gas helps push out the
Researchers also know that carbon dioxide trapped in the right kind of
rock formation will remain trapped, because the Earth already contains pockets of the substance. Under pressure, the gas turns
into a liquid, Benson said. In general, depleted oil or natural gas reservoirs should work.
"Oil reservoirs have existed for millions of years," she said, "so we're
looking for formations like that, with a good cap-rock layer."
Westcarb's tests will focus on monitoring the gas once it's underground,
said Larry Myer, the partnership's technical director. The gas will probably move inside the reservoir, and researchers need
to be able to see how it behaves. Much of the gear involved will come from the oil industry.
Some environmentalists consider the work a diversion. They want the government
to focus on emissions cuts and nonpolluting energy sources rather than find a way to hide carbon dioxide.
"If your sink is overflowing, the first thing you do is turn the sink off,
" said Carl Zichella, the Sierra Club's regional staff director for California. "Then you mop."
Hawkins, however, said the administration must start sequestering carbon
as soon as possible, not endlessly test the idea.
"We need to make sure that the next coal-fired plant built in the United
States captures (carbon dioxide)," he said. "While this research is going on, the world is building power plants the wrong
Storing greenhouse gases in the Earth
A group led by the California Energy Commission will pump carbon dioxide
(CO2) into a depleted natural gas reservoir and an underground pocket of salt water. It is one strategy in a process, known
as carbon sequestration, that the U.S. Department of Energy is researching to help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases pouring
into the Earth's atmosphere.
Carbon sequestration programs
The fertilization of phytoplankton with nutrients could enhance their natural
absorption of CO2. Also being studied is the direct injection of CO2 into ocean depths greater than 1,000 meters.
The storage of CO2 in geological formations, such as brine aquifers, oil
and gas fields and coal beds, is under study.
Researchers are studying the biological processes by which carbon dioxide
is removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis and stored in vegetation and soils.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science
E-mail David R. Baker at email@example.com.
|There are many ways to make a difference on climate change |
|John Browne, Financial Express, India |
The recent agreement
on climate change at the meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialised nations was a great piece of progress. Having
climate change on the agenda was remarkable in its own right and helped raise the profile of this enormously important subject.
Now the G8 nations have agreed to a dialogue with developing nations on how to tackle the problem of increasing carbon dioxide
The agreement illustrates how far we have come in the past 10 years in
the environmental debate. Getting enough countries signed up to the Kyoto protocol to bring it into force -- which happened
on February 16 -- was a huge achievement. Global warming is now foremost in people's minds, wherever they are in the world.
The US has not ratified the Kyoto treaty but people are more aware than ever before of our planet's environmental problems.
Steps have been taken by industries all over the world to make them more
energy efficient, and were taken even before oil prices rose to the level they are at today. In the oil industry, these steps
can be as simple as tightening up valves or mending leaks and stopping the emissions of methane and other harmful gases into
the atmosphere. As well as benefiting the environment, these measures can save money.
When BP started to put such measures into place about eight years ago,
other companies in our industry were incredulous. They regarded us as heretics for embracing an environmentally sound viewpoint.
Today, almost all the leading oil companies have begun attempts to reduce their environmental impact. Many of them even see
it as a competitive advantage and are striving to be seen as more environmentally sound than their competitors.
Although we have come a long way, much more remains to be done. Emissions
of greenhouse gases around the world are rising. The scientific evidence for global warming and its ill effects has strengthened.
There is growing political will to bring down emissions of greenhouse gases.
If we are to tackle climate change, we must go about it in the right
way. Let us start with the measures that are easiest to implement before we move on to the really difficult problems. Take
transportation. That is probably the hardest problem to solve because it involves so many points of emissions that generate
large amounts of carbon dioxide. Imagine trying to devise an emissions reduction strategy that covers every driver of every
car, every farmer on his tractor, every delivery truck, every bus and train.
So let us put that to one side for the time being and focus instead on
areas where we can bring down emissions fastest. BP is pioneering a technology that we think holds enormous promise for curbing
large amounts of emissions: carbon capture and storage. The idea is to capture carbon dioxide where it emerges in vast quantities
-- from power stations. As the gas is produced, it can be trapped and then held before pumping it underground to stay there
indefinitely. Underground fields have stored oil and gas for millennia, so there is no reason to think there should be any
problem with storing carbon dioxide in this way.
At a site in Algeria, we began work last year on storing the carbon dioxide
produced at the Salah gas field, under a joint venture with Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas company, and Sonatrach, the
Algerian national energy company. About 10 per cent of the gas in the Salah reservoir is made up of carbon dioxide. Rather
than venting the carbon dioxide -- the accepted practice on other projects of this type -- we compress the gas and inject
it into wells 1,800 metres deep, at a point where the field is filled with water. More than 1.0m tonnes of carbon dioxide
will be injected into the reservoir each year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars
off the road forever.
In Scotland, with Scottish & Southern Energy, we are looking at building
a power plant that will convert natural gas into carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The latter will be used to generate electricity
while the carbon dioxide is stored underground in the Miller oil field in the North Sea, which is coming to the end of its
life. This has never been done before, and the power plant will prevent as much carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere as
if you took 300,000 cars off the road. It will produce more carbon-free electricity than all of the UK's wind farms combined.
But if carbon capture and storage is to succeed, we are going to need
subsidies to encourage companies to take up the technology. We will make only a moderate return from our investments in carbon
capture and storage. Generating electricity in this way is more expensive than conventional methods, so it needs a government
subsidy to be able to compete -- just as wind and other renewable energy sources do.
Another remarkable step forward this year has been the European Union's
greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, which issues industries with tradeable permits for the carbon dioxide they are allowed
to produce. This could be an effective way of reducing emissions but the scheme has one big potential drawback. If businesses
accept that they have to pay for carbon emissions allowances, they will start to see the scheme as a tax on carbon. But if
carbon trading goes the way of the tax on petrol, you will not change people's behaviour -- raising the tax on petrol does
not get people out of their cars. It becomes simply a revenue-raising instrument. To ensure a change in behaviour, the scheme
should include a system of benchmarks on carbon efficiency by which companies in different industries can be judged. These
benchmarks should be made tougher each year to encourage businesses to find new ways of reducing their emissions.
Finally, the G8 rightly placed great emphasis on sharing "clean" technology,
which lowers carbon emissions, with developing countries. Private enterprise has an important role to play in this process.
We should be looking at how to transfer knowhow to poorer nations, which cannot afford the same investment in intellectual
property. Without this technology transfer, poorer nations will be doomed to satisfy their increasing energy needs by using
the old, dirty technologies now superseded in the developed world.
Of course, there are limits to this knowledge transfer, especially with
regard to the newer technologies now coming on to the market. No one would give away the intellectual property rights on a
turbine to burn hydrogen, for instance, as it is just too expensive. But one day this technology, too, will become commonplace
and should be shared wherever it can be useful. (The writer is chief executive of BP)
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