Carbon Capture and Storage is a false solution

2011 January 11, by Chapter Council

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the cornerstone of Canada’s clean energy plan. You talk to “clean coal” and tarsands apologists, they tell you not to worry about CO2 emissions because they can be buried away underground for thousands of years without leaking back into the air. For the best example of this spin, look no further than Canada’s PM. Alberta also touts CCS as its “clean energy” plan. Well, not so fast.

A Saskatchewan farm couple say greenhouse gases that were supposed to be stored permanently underground are leaking out, killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken-up soda pop. Cameron and Jane Kerr, who own land above the Weyburn oilfield in eastern Saskatchewan, have released a consultant’s report that claims to link high concentrations of carbon dioxide in their soil to gas injected underground every day.

CBC News – Technology & Science – Sask. farmers worried about CO2 leaks.

CCS is supposed to be able to capture 40% of Canada’s GHG emissions by 2050. Given that even such small pilot projects cannot seem to be able to prevent leaks, and that the prospect of catastrophic leaks grows with the scale of the project, we must be leery and sceptical of any attempts to have CCS be the cornerstone of anything other than a DIY carbonated water procedure!

We need to be moving away from fossil fuel dependence, not devising complicated short term “solutions” that store the CO2 away for future generations to deal with. For a way forward, see the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on clean energy in Saskatchewan. Conservation, wind, and solar, now that’s clean.

Update: Canada’s best tarsands journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has more from the Tyee today.