Scientist: ‘I’m pretty sure we will need carbon removal technologies’

(EurActiv, 6 Sep 2019) Sucking CO2 from the air to mitigate global warming may sound silly at first, but it’s likely to be necessary nonetheless, says Nils Røkke. And the more we delay it, the higher will be the demand for carbon removal technologies in the future, he warns.

Nils Anders Røkke is a Norwegian scientist and business leader. He is the executive vice president for sustainability at SINTEF, the largest Norwegian research institute. As of May 2017, he has been the chairman of the European Energy Research Alliance, the research pillar of the EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Negative emission technologies can never be used as an excuse to delay renewables, energy efficiency, and other clean energy solutions.
  • The issue with all of them is the huge amount of resources that are needed to bring them up to scale – whether it’s land for biomass with CCS (BECCS) or clean electricity for Direct Air Capture (DAC).
  • However, carbon removal technologies will probably still be needed to deal with emissions that cannot be entirely eliminated by other means.
  • That’s why Europe should put in place an innovation and research agenda, with more funding, to develop negative emission technologies.

Most IPCC scenarios now include negative emission technologies like Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). Why is that? Is it because BECCS is considered the most mature?

Yes, it’s because BECCS uses more or less the same technology that has been worked out for coal, oil, and gas. The flue gas is slightly different but basically, it’s the same thing.

The issue with all carbon removal technologies is the resources needed to bring them up to scale. BECCS, for instance, implies a lot of biomass. Some of the IPCC scenarios point to related land use with BECCS that is equivalent to the forest area of Russia. And that’s huge.

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EurActiv, 6 Sep 2019: Scientist: ‘I’m pretty sure we will need carbon removal technologies’