Schalk Cloete: “My thesis on the deployment of CCS…”

Schalk Cloete is brilliant. His five-part series on CCS is essential reading for anyone concerned about climate change. It’s essential because Cloete is “All Pragmatic All the Time”. He doesn’t do agenda activism. He just focuses upon assessing policy options – completely: scalability, life cycle cost, EROEI. Answering questions on his Part 1 of 5 post he explained why CCS:

My thesis on the deployment of CCS is a pretty simple one:

1) Fossil fuelled economic growth will be prioritized over climate change as long as climate change has a limited real-world impact, thus leading to an overshoot of climate targets.

2) When real-world climate impacts eventually start to have a large and clearly attributable effect, public opinion will shift rapidly.

3) This shift in public opinion will lead to a rapidly rising CO2 price.

4) A rapidly rising CO2 price will lead to a rapidly rising production (and storage/utilzation) of CO2 through CCS.

5) CCS is very well suited to such a reactive CO2 mitigation scenario due to the ability to access locked-in emissions, abate emissions from industry and because it will be less capital intensive than most alternatives. </

I’m unclear about the timeframes over which this will play out (mostly determined by real-world climate change impacts), but am fairly confident that the lack of proactive action will eventually necessitate such reactive emissions cuts through CCS in spite of the non-technical problems you mention.

My take on the political reality is quite parallel to Schalk’s. There will be no big public policy push for decarbonization – until people starting feeling real pain. By that time a lot of dangerous change will be “baked in” and people will be very motivated to look beyond Amory Lovins “soft power” for real solutions. To find out what the following graphic is all about, you’ll want to read Part 1.Dahowski cumulative annual co2 storage cost curve us china

One thought on “Schalk Cloete: “My thesis on the deployment of CCS…”

  1. I have doubts about CCS. There is no guarantee that CO2 will not eventually escape. Even if it doesn’t, it significantly reduces the efficiency of coal burning power plants and would also significantly increase the cost of electricity. Nuclear power, one would hope advanced nuclear power, would seem to be a more reasonable route.

    By the time global warming becomes inescapably obvious we may well be past a tipping point at which time we could only mitigate the warming to a certain and inadequate extent. Even when it does become obvious, some will deny that it is human-caused. Probably we’ll have to find ways to live with it. I very much doubt that humans will become extinct, but I would expect a reduction in population from famine and warfare caused by the famine, water shortages, and other problems. Our current political systems are not capable of dealing with all the problems.

    On a large scale, this is unprecedented. On smaller scales, over the centuries people have been forced to migrate because of climate changes and also because they have destroyed their environment sometimes because their irrigation practices have resulted in soil salination causing crop failures.

    Perhaps fortunately, my age is such that I do not expect to live long enough to see the worst of it.

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