Stanford Prof. Mark Jacobson, whose transition to renewables plan is embraced as the mainstay of the Green (Party) New Deal, also excludes CCS. Richard Heinberg of PCI nonetheless criticizes Jacobson's reliance on underground heat storage technologies unproven at scales needed for his plan. Both Jacobson's and CCS's scaling problems are constrained by access to storage deep underground and, in the case of CCS, sometimes hundreds of miles from the source.
|Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim|
It is typical of our disconnection from nature that a less brutal means of sequestering captured carbon wouldn't attract more interest. Biochar can be a coproduct of electricity production when using biomass as an input. Rather than pipe it deep into the ground, burying biochar a few inches below the surface of farmland would be all that is needed to sequester the carbon. Unlike CCS, biochar is scalable up or down, befitting the feedstock availability and soil characteristics in a locale. While not a stand-alone replacement for current fossil fuel electricity, biochar-producing power plants should be pursued before the riskier CCS plants that have already wasted billions of dollars in pilot programs and never captured any carbon. Further investments or subsidies in CCS power plants would quite likely fall short, leading to expansion of more carbon spewing fossil-fueled electricity, with the carbon capture piece set aside as too expensive or difficult to complete.
*According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, the overall cost of a global climate mitigation strategy without CCS is higher than a strategy with CCS in every scenario, and many models cannot limit likely warming to below 2 °C without CCS. (U.S. DOE Report, Jan. 2017, pg. 7)