Why do we need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere?
In 1960, there were 316 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. Today there are 410 parts per million. This increase has caused the current global warming effect now being experienced worldwide. This concentration is projected to grow to approximately 550 parts per million by 2050 before current mitigation efforts take effect. We don’t know what it will be like to live in the world with such a concentration but it is predicted to be a very unstable world and ideally we don’t want to find out.
There are 2 challenges to help avoid the extreme impact of Climate Change;
We must reduce the annual rate of carbon emissions from the current level of 38 Gtonnes CO2 to less than 14 Gtonnes per annum by 2050 with continued reduction thereafter. This is planned to be achieved through a worldwide effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption and other greening initiatives.
We must reduce the concentration of CO2 already present in the atmosphere so that the concentration never reaches 550 parts per million. According to the IPCC (international Panel on Climate Change) “Even if the world achieved a stabilisation in CO2 emissions this would not translate into the same for atmospheric concentrations. This is because CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere based on “residence time”. Residence time is the time required for emitted CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere through natural processes. If we stopped emitting CO2 today, it would take several hundred years before the majority of human emissions are removed from the atmosphere”
The NEG8 Carbon technology will allow us, over time, to bring the existing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere back to safe levels.
This second challenge is the one that NEG8 Carbon addresses. It is also the challenge that is receiving little attention from Governments, policy makers and Industry worldwide. This is due to the fact that technologies to make Direct Air Capture of carbon viable are only now being developed.
It is useful to recall our experience in setting up NEG8 Carbon and establishing our first research contract with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)/Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The process of recruiting our scientific team allowed us to survey the state of the art worldwide. We discovered that some of the best expertise was here in Ireland in University College Dublin (UCD) and TCD. Our scientific team included a researcher from UCD and 2 other European Universities.
However, we were disappointed to discover how little research was being carried out in this area worldwide. It did however indicate a major opportunity for Ireland to become a world leader in Carbon Capture and Reuse technologies. We could lead the Climate Change Industry by helping to establish an advanced Centre for the capture and reuse of carbon across multiple industries. We can develop a Global Industry in Ireland to serve the world.
Industry is seeking solutions to allow it to play its part in the Climate Change challenge but these solutions will require joint Academic/Industry action and the establishment of a publicly funded prototyping centre. EU State aid rules will need to be relaxed in order for a speedy response to Climate Change, we cannot afford years of proposal writing.
Finally, the stick/incentives for Industry to embrace carbon capture technologies are now being adopted by Governments. For example, the Irish government will impose a carbon tax of €100 per tonne of carbon by 2030 and this will drive industry mitigation efforts, particularly in those hard to avoid emissions industries. We expect that this carbon tax will grow as Global Warming accelerates and public opinion demands action.
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