Karmis: The importance of carbon management in energy policy | Chroniclers


The recently approved bipartisan federal infrastructure bill designates billions of dollars to pilot new energy technologies and promote carbon management as a key component of US energy and climate policy. This includes:

$ 3.5 billion to support the new regional direct aerial capture centers.

$ 8 billion to support new regional clean hydrogen hubs.

$ 3.5 billion to support carbon capture demonstrations and pilot programs.

$ 2.5 billion to support carbon storage validation and testing.

$ 2.1 billion to support the transport of carbon dioxide.

These expenses represent a game changer for the United States. If we are to meet domestic and global climate goals and maintain economic stability at home and abroad, these types of carbon management efforts need to be part of the political conversation.

At the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, we devote considerable time and resources to the planning, development, and evaluation of these types of programs.

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We’ve worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy for over a decade to develop projects that harness carbon dioxide and identify ways to store or use it to minimize its impacts on global warming. VCCER has completed pilot projects to test CO2 storage in coal seams in Virginia and Alabama, contributed to the development of the Carbon Storage Atlas, and worked with public and private sector partners to advance initiatives. carbon management.

It is not a political question; it is a public imperative. The US Department of Energy renamed its Office of Fossil Energy earlier this year to become the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. The bureau’s chief of staff, Shuchi Talati, recently described to the MIT Technology Review the Biden administration’s recognition of carbon management as vital, especially for economic sectors – such as transportation, industrial and power generation – which are otherwise difficult to decarbonize.

This reality is recognized by businesses large and small, and by many state and local governments. Interest in these programs is growing as government and industry strive to find ways to drive innovation and adoption, as evidenced by the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The private sector is also advancing carbon management as a means of improving corporate environmental, social and governance practices.

Large carbon capture projects are starting or are under development:

In September, Swiss and Icelandic companies announced the start of operations of the world’s largest direct air carbon capture plant. The facility will capture and store up to 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

In Norway, there are plans to transport carbon from capture sites and deliver these emissions by boat to a remote terminal for temporary storage. They will then be stored in a tank more than 1.5 miles below the seabed.

In the United States, Occidental Petroleum is developing a similar facility capable of capturing 1 million tonnes of CO2 in Texas, while ExxonMobil has proposed a carbon capture and storage project in the Gulf of Mexico that would contain 50 million tonnes of CO2. CO2 per year by 2030. It would increase to 100 million tonnes by 2040.

And near us, there are a growing number of fossil fuel suppliers who are adopting these emerging technologies to help meet the demand for low-cost, environmentally friendly energy. This summer, Mountain Valley Pipeline announced voluntary plans to offset its operational emissions by investing $ 150 million over a decade to offset approximately 730,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year through a plan built around capturing vented methane. from a metallurgical coal mine operated in Southwest Virginia. This is expected to result in a 25% reduction in methane emissions from underground coal mines in the state of Virginia.

The successful implementation of these types of projects will stimulate continued development and innovation in carbon management practices. In turn, this will improve speed, efficiency and adoption in industries at home and abroad. Additional incentives, such as an increase in the cost of the carbon price, will further encourage the use of carbon management strategies, as this will be more economical than emitting greenhouse gases. This offers the potential to create new industries and markets in the central Appalachians that could generate new employment opportunities and ensure the transition of these distressed communities to a better future.

These activities should receive broad support. In particular, they should resonate with individuals and groups concerned about their carbon footprint and environmental justice. The transition to renewable energies will continue. However, this remains part of an overall strategy to meet public demand for energy in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Michael Karmis is professor of mining and mineral engineering at Virginia Tech and director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. He is retiring after nearly 44 years of university service at the end of this month.

Michael Karmis is professor of mining and mineral engineering at Virginia Tech and director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. He is retiring after nearly 44 years of university service at the end of this month.


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