Carbon capture is expected to play a pivotal role in the race to net zero emissions. But not everyone agrees
LONDON — Carbon capture technology is often held up as a source of hope in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, featuring prominently in countries’ climate plans as well as the net-zero strategies of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.
The topic is divisive, however, with climate researchers, campaigners and environmental advocacy groups arguing that carbon capture technology is not a solution.
The world is confronting a climate emergency, and policymakers and chief executives are under intensifying pressure to deliver on promises made as part of the landmark Paris Agreement. The accord, ratified by nearly 200 countries in 2015, is seen as critically important in averting the worst effects of climate change.
Carbon capture, utilization and storage — often shortened to carbon capture technology or CCUS — refers to a suite of technologies designed to capture carbon dioxide from high-emitting activities such as power generation or industrial facilities, that use either fossil fuels or biomass for fuel.
The captured carbon dioxide, which can also be captured directly from the atmosphere, is then compressed and transported via pipeline, ship, rail or truck to be used in a range of applications or permanently stored underground.
There are a number of reasons why carbon capture is a false climate solution. The first and most fundamental of those reasons is that it is not necessary.Carroll MuffettChief executive at the Center for International Environmental Law
Proponents of these technologies believe they can play an important and diverse role in meeting global energy and climate goals.
Carroll Muffett, chief executive at the non-profit Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), is not one of them. “There are a number of reasons why carbon capture is a false climate solution. The first and most fundamental of those reasons is that it is not necessary,” he told CNBC via telephone.
“If you look at the history of carbon capture and storage, what you see is nearly two decades of a solution in search of a cure.”
Some CCS and CCUS facilities have been operating since the 1970s and 1980s when natural gas processing plants in south Texas began capturing carbon dioxide and supplying the emissions to local oil producers for enhanced oil recovery operations. The first one was set up in 1972.
It wasn’t until several years later that carbon capture technology would be studied for climate mitigation purposes. Now, there are 21 large-scale CCUS commercial projects in operation worldwide and plans for at least 40 new commercial facilities have been announced in recent years.
A report published by CIEL earlier this month concluded that these technologies are not only “ineffective, uneconomic and unsafe,” but they also prolong reliance on the fossil fuel industry and distract from a much-needed pivot to renewable alternatives.
“The unproven scalability of CCS technologies and their prohibitive costs mean they cannot play any significant role in the rapid reduction of global emissions necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C,” the CIEL said, referring to a key aim of the Paris Agreement to limit a rise in the earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“Despite the existence of the technology for decades and billions of dollars in government subsidies to date, deployment of CCS at scale still faces insurmountable challenges of feasibility, effectiveness, and expense,” the CIEL added.
Earlier this year, campaigners at Global Witness and Friends of the Earth Scotland commissioned climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre in Manchester, U.K. to assess the role fossil fuel-related CCS plays in the energy system.
The peer-reviewed study found that carbon capture and storage technologies still face numerous barriers to short-term deployment and, even if these could be overcome, the technology “would only start to deliver too late.” Researchers also found that it was incapable of operating with zero emissions, constituted a distraction from the rapid growth of renewable energy “and has a history of over-promising and under-delivering.”
In short, the study said reliance on CCS is “not a solution” to confronting the world’s climate challenge.
Carbon capture is ‘a rarity’ in Washington
Not everyone is convinced by these arguments, however. The International Energy Agency, an influential intergovernmental group, says that while carbon capture technology has not yet lived up to its promise, it can still offer “significant strategic value” in the transition to net zero.
“CCUS is a really important part of this portfolio of technologies that we consider,” Samantha McCulloch, head of CCUS technology at the IEA, told CNBC via video call.
The IEA has identified four key strategic roles for the technologies: Addressing emissions from energy infrastructure, tackling hard-to-abate emissions from heavy industry (cement, steel and chemicals, among others), natural gas-based hydrogen production and carbon removal.
For these four reasons, McCulloch said it would be fair to describe CCUS as a climate solution.
At present, CCUS facilities around the world have the capacity to capture more than 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. The IEA believes plans to build many more facilities could double the level of CO2 captured globally.
“It is contributing but not to a scale that we envisage will be needed in terms of a net-zero pathway,” McCulloch said. “The encouraging news, I think, is that there has been very significant momentum behind the technology in recent years and this is really reflecting that without CCUS it will be very difficult — if not impossible — to meet net-zero goals.”
Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil and gas trade lobby group, believes the future looks bright for carbon capture and utilization storage.
The group noted in a blog post on July 2 that CCUS was a rare example of something that is liked by “just about everyone” in Washington – Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.
Where do we go from here?
“Frankly, tackling climate change is not the same as trying to bring the fossil fuel industry to its knees,” Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, told CNBC via telephone.
“If the fossil fuel companies can help us get to net zero then why wouldn’t we want them to do that? I think too many environmental groups have conflated their dislike of oil and gas companies with the challenge of tackling climate change.”
When asked why carbon capture and storage schemes should be in countries’ climate plans given the criticism they receive, Ward replied: “Because if we are going to get to net zero by 2050, we have to throw every technology at this problem … People who argue that you can start ruling out technologies because you don’t like them are those who, I think, haven’t understood the scale of the challenge we face.”
The CIEL’s Muffett rejected this suggestion, saying proponents of carbon capture technologies are increasingly reliant on this kind of “all of the above” argument. “The answer to it is surprisingly easy: It is that we have a decade to cut global emissions in half and we have just a few decades to eliminate them entirely,” Muffett said.
“If on any reasonable examination of CCS, it costs massive amounts of money but doesn’t actually reduce emissions in any meaningful way, and further entrenches fossil fuel infrastructure, the question is: In what way is that contributing to the solution as opposed to diverting time and energy and resources away from the solutions that will work?”
Africa’s waste industry just got a whole lot cleaner with its first electric garbage truck
Africa received its first heavy-duty commercial electric truck this past week, a Volvo Trucks FE Electric garbage truck (waste collector). The electric garbage truck will be the first fully electric heavy-duty truck from a global manufacturer to begin operation in Africa, marking a significant milestone as we move closer toward a sustainable transportation industry globally.
Volvo Trucks is leading the charge toward a cleaner future with a broad lineup of zero-emission heavy-duty electric vehicles.
Founded in Sweden in 1927, Volvo Trucks has a rich history in the truck-making business. The company’s first truck rolled off the line in 1928, and Volvo has been leading the industry to new heights ever since with innovations, such as the three-point safety harness, the first fully integrated sleeper compartment, and unique designs to increase efficiency.
Seeing the progression to fully electric vehicles sooner than many of its counterparts, Volvo Trucks moved the industry forward again, releasing its first electric commercial truck, the FL Electric, in 2019.
Volvo followed it up, unveiling the Volvo VNR Electric featuring a larger battery designed to extend range.
In September, Volvo added three massive 44-ton heavy-duty EV trucks to its portfolio, bringing its total lineup to six, the most extensive in the industry, as it continues to add zero-emission options in different commercial categories.
The company’s trucks are helping companies go electric to reduce emissions and promote a zero-emission global transportation industry across the globe.
Volvo’s most recent electric truck was delivered to Africa. Volvo delivered its first heavy-duty truck to Morocco, a Volvo FE electric garbage truck, which is a big step for both the truck maker and Africa as they move closer to achieving their climate goals.
Volvo delivers first heavy electric garbage truck to Africa
In a press release, Volvo said it had delivered a series-produced zero-exhaust emission garbage truck to the city of Rabat in Morocco. Martin Nilsson, managing director of Volvo Trucks Morocco, said:
This clearly shows that zero-emissions trucks have a role to play in many parts of the world.
Volvo’s extensive heavy-duty EV lineup makes electrifying in all parts of the world possible. Arma, a Moroccan waste management company, will use the zero-emission truck to, well, collect waste, of course.
By replacing the existing diesel fleet with a Volvo FE electric during typical routes, Volvo says over 20 tons of CO2 could be saved annually.
The addition is part of Morocco’s unconditional climate goal of reducing emissions by 18.3% by 2030. Volvo is also aiming for 50% of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.
Tesla expands its virtual sales presence with remote test drives
Tesla is expanding its new sales strategy of using virtual sales advisers with remote test drive locations to Europe.
In the summer of 2021, Electrek exclusively reported that Tesla was implementing a new sales strategy. At the time, we reported that the main changes were that the automaker was moving away from high-rent locations in malls and shopping districts in favor of delivery centers and remote test drives.
The strategy is again focused on online sales, but Tesla has recognized that physical presence is still necessary to enable test drives.
When someone used to place an order for a Tesla vehicle online in North America, the customer was assigned a “Tesla Advisor” at their local store to help manage the process leading up to the delivery.
Instead, Tesla started to assign orders to “virtual sales advisors” not assigned to any specific stores, and customers could go to cheap remote test drive locations with Tesla vehicles in parking lots.
The company has been gradually implementing this new strategy in North America. Tesla has now expanded its strategy to Europe with its first remote test drive hub location in Sweden:
Tesla explains the simple process of using the location:
Book an appointment at http://tesla.com → call us when you’ve arrived → we remotely unlock the vehicle for you & walk you through the basics → test drive for 30 mins → drop off vehicle at the same location.
This enables Tesla to operate these locations with very few staff. The company simply needs to make sure those vehicles stay clean and charged.
When we first reported on the new strategy in 2021, sources told Electrek that Tesla was already seeing some success with the first few locations in the US.
Now that the company is expanding this strategy in Europe, we have to assume that the automaker is happy with it and has decided to implement it in new markets.
Use CRAFTSMAN’s cordless electric pole saw to trim your trees as spring arrives at $129 in New Green Deals
As today is the first official day of spring, you’ll want to get ready to trim your yard up and get it ready for warmer weather with spring and summer parties on the horizon. That’s where CRAFTSMAN’s 14-foot cordless pole saw comes to play. It’s on sale for $129 right now, which is the first major price drop that we’ve seen since last summer when the same deal came around back in May. With no gas or motor oil, this electric pole saw can reach up to 14 feet and take care of branches that need to come down from your tree. We also have a wide selection of Tesla and e-bike discounts in today’s New Green Deals, so you won’t want to miss that either.
Head below for other New Green Deals that we’ve found today and of course Electrek’s best EV buying and leasing deals. Also, check out the new Electrek Tesla Shop for the best deals on Tesla accessories.
Trim your yard up as we head into spring
Amazon is offering the CRAFTSMAN 20V Cordless 14-foot Pole Chainsaw for $129 shipped. Down from $169, today’s deal marks the first major price drop that we’ve seen since last summer. In fact, it marks the second-best price that we’ve seen since it hit $98 back in July of 2021. Perfect for getting your yard ready for spring, this pole trimmer will get your trees in tip-top shape as the weather warms up. There’s up to 14 feet of reach with the extension pole and you’ll find the angled head and blade allow for reaching where straight trimmers just can’t get to.
The included 4Ah battery pack allows for extended runtime compared to smaller models and there’s a charger included as well so you can always be ready to go. Of course, being battery-powered means no motor oil or gas will be required, and maintenance is minimal. Not sure what you’d need a trimmer like this for? Well, often there are low-hanging branches on trees that can get in the way of proper airflow through the leaves or possibly are hanging off of a branch below precariously. This allows you to trim things up without having to hire a professional service, saving you both time and money this spring.
EGO Power+ 21-inch electric lawn mower now $100 off before spring at $399, more from $228
Amazon is now offering the EGO Power+ 21-inch 56V Cordless Electric Lawn Mower for $349 shipped. Normally fetching $499, you’re looking at the best discount to date thanks to the $150 savings applied today. This clocks in at $50 under our previous mention and is the lowest we’ve seen this year. Powered by a 5Ah battery and rapid charger that are included in the box, this EGO Power+ mower arrives with a cordless design that can tackle medium-sized yards with a 45-minute runtime. Alongside a 21-inch cutting deck, there’s also 3-in-1 bagging features for bagging, mulching, and side discharging cut grass. Spring is right around the corner, making today’s discount a great chance to start off the new season on the right foot with a chance to ditch gas and oil from your lawn care routine while saving some cash along the way.
Also seeing a discount today courtesy of Amazon, the EGO Power+ 18-inch 56V cordless chainsaw is also marked down for one of the very first times. Dropping down to $315.61, this electric offering is now matching the all-time low from the usual $379 price tag. It’s one of the first chances to save since launching last summer, and delivers much of the same integration with the EGO Power+ 56V ecosystem. Perfect for getting all of those suspicious tree branches taken care of as you begin cleaning up the yard from winter this electric chainsaw is also ideal for chopping up the rest of that fire wood that lasted through the past few months, too. Plus, the 14-inch model is also on sale right now for $227.99 with the on-page coupon, down from $299 and marking a new all-time low.
Don’t let the lights go out when the grid goes down
The official ALLPOWERS Amazon storefront is offering its S1500 Portable Power Station for $499 shipped once you clip the on-page coupon. Originally $999, this portable power station fell to $899 in February before hitting $799 earlier this month. Today’s deal marks a new all-time low at $500 off and saves 50% from its normal going rate at Amazon. This portable power station has a lot to offer, with a constant output of up to 1,500W and the ability to peak at 3,000W. There’s four total AC outlets, three 2.4A USB-A ports, and even 100W USB-C PD output. All of this combines to power up to eight devices at one time through traditional plugs, while you’ll also find a 10A cat plug for an additional output option. When it comes time to recharge the ALLPOWERS S1500, it can be plugged into the wall, connected to solar panels, plugged in through USB-C, or even your car’s 12V/24V outlet.
Now that you know what all the ALLPOWERS S1500 has the ability to do, what all could it help you with? Well, a power station like this is great to have around for many reasons. As we head toward summer, and into hurricane season later in the year, there’s a good chance your power might go out. There have already been a number of bad storms across the US so far this year, with many losing power for hours or days. A power station like this that can output up to 1,500W concurrent or 3,000W peak means you can run a refrigerator, freezer, and even your TV and networking gear all without having to use a single drop of gas or oil at home. Plus, this power station can be recharged with solar panels like we mentioned, so when the power is out for an extended period of time, you can still enjoy at least some creature comforts at home.
New Tesla deals
After checking out the CRAFTSMAN 20V cordless 14-foot pole saw on sale above, if you keep read, you’ll find a selection of new green deals that will make your Tesla experience better in multiple areas. From storage to keep recordings on to phone mounts, car chargers, and anything else we can find, it’ll be listed below. Each day we’ll do our best to find new and exciting deals and ways for you to save on fun accessories for your Tesla, making each trip unique. For more gift ideas and deals, check out the best Tesla shop. Keep reading on for e-bike, Greenworks, and other great deals.
New e-bike deals + electric scooter discounts
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the sunshine still after using your new electric mower, than we recommend you experience it than on another e-bike or electric scooter you just got at a fantastic price through one of our deals and sale below. You can use it for fun, exercise, or even transportation to and from work or the coffee shop. We have several people here that will regularly commute to coffee shops or offices on their e-bike, as it cuts down on fossil fuel usage as well as allows them to enjoy some time outdoors on nice sunny days. Below, you’ll find a wide selection of new e-bike deals and electric scooter deal in all price ranges, so give it a look if that’s something you’d be interested in picking up. As always, the newest e-bike deal and electric scooter discounts and sales will be at the top, so shop quick as the discounts are bound to go away soon.
Additional New Green Deals
After shopping the CRAFTSMAN 20V cordless 14-foot pole saw on sale above, be sure to check out the other discounts we found today. These new green deals are wide-ranging from outdoor lawn equipment to anything else we find that could save you money in various ways, be that cutting gas and oil out of your life or just enjoying other amenities that energy-saving gear can bring. As always, the newest deals will be at the top, so shop quick as the discounts are bound to go away soon.
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