The concept know-how options to local weather change will enable us to hold on with our present life-style, with none influence, is harmful. It’s one not too long ago urged by U.S. Local weather Envoy John Kerry, who stated on BBC “I’m advised by scientists that fifty per cent of the reductions we’ve got to make (to get to close zero emissions) by 2050 or 2045 are going to return from applied sciences we don’t but have.” He stated individuals “don’t have to surrender a top quality of life” in an effort to minimize emissions.
One other instance of this unchecked know-how optimism got here with Suncor’s latest announcement that they had been investing in a venture to make use of pure gasoline (methane), to supply 300,000 tonnes of “clear hydrogen.” The venture would use superior know-how to seize greater than 90 per cent of the CO2 emissions generated within the hydrogen manufacturing course of. Round two-thirds of this hydrogen would then be utilized in refining processes and cogeneration of steam and electrical energy on the Suncor Edmonton Refinery, lowering refinery CO2 emissions by as much as 60 per cent.
With out context, this appears like an incredible thought. However a better look reveals how little it goes towards coping with emissions.
Suncor is within the oil and gasoline enterprise. Unpacking their announcement helps to know how a lot they’re dressing up their core enterprise with the carbon seize fairy story. What they’re proposing is to chip away at only one small factor of the huge emissions technology that’s Alberta’s tarsands. If we listing the processes concerned of their latest announcement, this turns into clear.
Step 1: Drill and frack for pure gasoline
Step 2: Pipe pure gasoline to a refinery
Step 3: Course of pure gasoline into hydrogen
Step 4: Seize CO2 from hydrogen formation course of
Step 5: Mine bitumen
Step 6: Improve bitumen into oil
Step 7: Course of oil into petroleum merchandise utilizing hydrogen as one of many vitality inputs
Step 8: Use the ensuing petroleum merchandise — within the majority of instances burning them and creating extra CO2 emissions.
Everybody of these processes makes use of vitality, most of it from fossil fuels. CO2 will solely be captured from Step 3, the hydrogen formation course of. This hydrogen will partially cut back the usage of fossil fuels solely in Step 7, refining.
What about Steps 1,2,4,5,6,8? Local weather impacting CO2 emissions will probably be produced, however not captured, in the remainder of these processes. Even worse, methane gasoline, which has round 80 occasions the influence of CO2, is emitted by means of leakage from Step 1.
On high of these emissions, Alberta has the dirtiest electrical energy technology capability in Canada although utilizing coal burning energy stations. All of the listed processes will use electrical energy, a lot of it from these energy stations.
How a lot will this assist Alberta’s emissions downside? The venture would cut back CO2 emissions in Alberta by greater than two million tonnes per 12 months. In 2019, Alberta emitted 275.8 megatonnes of CO2. A megatonne is 1 million tonnes. So the multibillion greenback plant will cut back the CO2 emissions from Alberta by lower than 1 per cent. Is that this one of the best use of a billion greenback funding in our battle to cut back emissions and their local weather altering influence?
The truth is that this venture is designed to distract us from the true activity and provides Suncor the social license to proceed to mine tarsands for oil. Would you like your authorities to subsidize such a venture, by means of tax breaks, as proposed within the latest price range? Would you like your taxes to be given to certainly one of Canada’s most carbon polluting corporations so it will possibly market itself as a part of the answer to the local weather emergency? If not, let your MP know. In the meantime, at all times take the time to dig a bit deeper when the oil and gasoline business publicizes carbon seize as a technique to proceed with their fossil gas intensive, CO2 emitting, investments.
Dave Carson lives in Dundas and is searching for methods to cut back emissions personally and locally.