Ottawa spends too much on CCS, neglects workers’ skills: iron and earth

Support for the energy transition in the federal government’s 2022 budget has favored carbon capture, use and storage (CCS) over the best opportunities for rapid decarbonization, the executive director of Iron & Earth said Tuesday, Luisa Da Silva, before a parliamentary committee.

CCS has brought in nearly four times more funding than clean electricity initiatives, Da Silva said, during an appearance before the House Environment and Sustainability Committee. But “although the federal and provincial governments have provided about C$5.8 billion for CCS projects since 2000, CCS only captures 0.05% of Canada’s greenhouse gases.”

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Despite mounting pressure on Canada to increase these subsidies to match industry support under the Biden administration Inflation Reduction ActDa Silva said only 2.3% of the US$158 billion in clean energy initiatives in the United States is for CCS, compared to 48% for home energy efficiency and community resilience.

Da Silva’s presentation came just days after the carbon capture industry reported record interest in developing new projects, driven by rising carbon prices and government subsidies. The Global CCS Institute’s latest annual survey showed 153 new projects under construction, with the United States and Canada leading the way, “61 more than at this time last year and more than at any other time in the world. ‘story’, Bloomberg News reports.

All this new activity “would be in addition to the 30 projects currently underway and 11 others under construction”, writes the news agency. But even if all the projects are completed – and even if they meet their targets when they go live – they will only capture 244 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, or less than 1% of the estimated 36 billion tonnes. emitted by humanity. Last year.

Last month, a broad industry assessment produced by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) warned that carbon capture and storage projects are far more likely to fail than to succeed, and nearly three quarters of the carbon dioxide they manage to capture each year is sold to fossil companies and used to extract more oil. The 13 “large-scale flagship” projects in the analysis represented about 55% of the world’s current carbon capture capacity, the institute said in a statement. Ten of the 13 underperformed, failed outright, or had to be mothballed.

“CCS technology has been around for 50 years and many projects have failed and continued to fail, with only a handful of works,” said report co-author Bruce Robertson, a seasoned investment analyst and fund manager. who now serves as an energy finance analyst for gas at the IEEFA. and LNG. Although CCS “could have a role to play in hard-to-reduce sectors such as cement, fertilizers and steel, the overall results point to a financial, technical and emissions reduction framework that continues to overestimate and underestimate. -perform”.

None of this has stopped Jarad Daniels, CEO of the CCS Institute, from touting the potential of the still-in-the-making technology his organization is supposed to promote. “CCS is the Swiss army knife of climate change mitigation – it will continue to play multiple and unique roles in decarbonizing the global economy,” he said. “Many essential industries like cement and chemical production have no other viable path to deep decarbonization other than CCS.”

Rather than doubling down on an “old energy system” that is “too centralized and not community-driven,” Da Silva said Canada should “simultaneously improve worker well-being and community resilience in the face of to climate change through green housing initiatives, renovations, community distributions, energy projects and zero-emission mobility. But it will mean developing the skill base to get the job done.

“It’s a matter of distributing those skills, closer to need, closer to home and available across the country,” Da Silva told the committee.

“Currently, despite their basic skills and desire to work in a net-zero economy, fossil fuel workers and Indigenous communities lack the opportunity to play a leadership role in shaping policy and infrastructure. needed to achieve global climate goals,” she said. . But “increasing local jobs and local economies prevents a Canadian diaspora of energy workers from flying across the country for work and builds resilience against boom/bust cycles associated with the export economy. oil and gas.”

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