MONDAY 18 JUNE, 2012 |
Carbon Capture (Or How To Blow $122 Million)
How many residential rooftop solar panel systems can $122 million buy? A lot.
How much does the same amount buy in terms of progress in carbon
capture and sequestration (CCS)? Very little it seems.
The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute
was launched in 2009, courtesy of $100 million a year seed funding
provided by Australian taxpayers. The Institute is charged with the task of
accelerating the adoption of carbon capture and storage.
CCS is described by some as essentially a high tech way to sweep dirt under a
rug. Aside from long term safety concerns surrounding injecting carbon dioxide
underground, "clean coal" and carbon capture technologies are also
often energy intensive; meaning more coal needs to be ripped out of the ground
and burned to generate the energy to operate them.
However, with $122 million already reportedly spent by the Institute, you would
be forgiven for believing a substantial progress has occurred in refining CCS
technologies and bringing them to market. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be
The discontent concerning the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute isn't
confined to outside observers.
According to The
, a survey of the institute's 190 members found 31% believed it was
"fast losing its relevance and must start to demonstrate greater value to members immediately".
Perhaps Australian taxpayers might echo that sentiment considering they are the
group actually ponying up the cash.
In defending the Institute, its new chief executive was quoted by The Age as
saying "It's actually impossible to spend that amount of money
Perhaps Mr. Page was misquoted, but The Age also says $54.25 million has been spent on ''operational expenses''
in the first two years, including "numerous first-class air fares for board members and lavish overseas trips for more than 15 of the institute's Australia-based staff."
To answer the original question of how much rooftop
solar electricity generation
potential $122 million buys - the answer is
over 40 million watts capacity fully installed, using existing technology at
today's prices - including GST and before any other subsidisation.
40 million watts of solar panel capacity can avoid electricity generation
related emissions of approximately and conservatively 85,668,000 kilograms
annually, and for many years.
Over the estimated serviceable lifetime of the equivalent value in solar panels,
at least 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions would be avoided; possibly far
more given some solar panels are still generating significant electricity decades
after their installation
. This is in addition to the many benefits of distributed
, substantially boosting green collar jobs, further pushing down the cost of wholesale electricity through the Merit
and helping decrease the cost of solar power equipment even more.
It's all increasingly pointing to an ounce of carbon prevention in the form of
solar being worth pounds of carbon sequestration "cure". It also
raises the question - should the $113 million reportedly remaining in the
Institute's coffers be rerouted elsewhere?
Other news for Monday 18 June, 2012
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