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OR Sequestration Week: Future of Carbon Capture, Storage

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Monday, March 8, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- This week, groups are holding virtual events in Oregon for "Sequestration Week," and the potential of carbon capture is among the topics.

The Electrify Coalition, which is made up of 30 for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the Northwest, is hosting panels on different aspects of sequestering carbon.

Brett Henkel, co-founder and vice president of strategic accounts and government affairs at Svante, will speak today about the essential role of carbon capture and storage to offset emissions from industrial sectors like producing concrete, where carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct.

"Unless we figure out a completely different way of making concrete, then the CO2 is going to be produced in that process," Henkel explained. "And one of the key tools is to capture that CO2 from the smokestack and then, figure what to do with that CO2 so it doesn't go into the atmosphere."

There are multiple carbon-capture methods, including using a liquid solvent that absorbs carbon dioxide from emissions, but carbon capture and storage still is too expensive for most industries.

The technology also has faced criticism, when promoted by the oil and gas industry as a way to continue burning fossil fuels rather than decrease dependence on them.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industry makes up about 22% of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions.

Deepika Nagabhushan, program director of the Decarbonized Fossil Energy program for the Clean Air Task Force, noted most of these emissions, as in steel production, are not from burning fossil fuels.

She said bringing emissions down must involve solutions like carbon capture in industrial sectors.

"Just by cleaning up electricity, we're only getting a part of the way there," Nagabhushan contended. "And I think that that's something very important to keep in mind."

In 2018, the U.S. government created subsidies for carbon capture.

Nagabhushan argued the government will have to go even further to make the technology viable.

"We just need to now deploy more of it; learn from it," Nagabhushan asserted. "We've got to deploy it across sectors and get the cost down further. And that, I think, you know with government policies, is really 'step one' right now."

Sequestration Week also includes panels on "green" concrete, grasslands as carbon sinks and the natural roles forests and soil can play in carbon sequestration.


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