Researchers from University of California at Berkeley are currently exploring the possibility to combine energy production from biomass with carbon capture and sequestration techniques (BECCS). Their initial findings indicate that this is a match made in heaven, which in about 30 years from now could transform the power systems in the Western US and make them “carbon-negative”.
According to the estimations, derived from computer model simulations, implementing the technique could lead to reduction in emissions in Western North America of 145% by year 2050. This would be possible if biomass, combined with carbon capture and sequestration is also accompanied by aggressive renewable energy deployment and reduction in emissions from fossil fuels.
In various different scenarios simulated by the scientists, reductions in emissions as a result of BECCS begin at 7%. According to the team, the difference is so big because not all depends on implementation, but other factors such as governmental involvement (or lack of it), also play quite a substantial role. Nevertheless, the scientists are convinced that by implementing BECCS, California will not only be able to reach their emission targets of 80% reduction, but they could actually double this.
The concept is part of an ongoing research, meaning that we can only expect a lot more to come out of it. As it stands right now, there are still quite a few uncertainties that have to be acknowledged. To start with, carbon capture techniques are not yet as widely used as we all hoped for, but being identified as one of the few solutions to climate change that the latest IPCC report outlined, the hope for fast development is quite big. In addition, using biomass for energy is also an ongoing field of research and development.
Parts of the work is already published in the prestigious journal Nature Climate Change.
Image (c) UC Berkeley