Carbon Capture Through Bio-Sequestration

Carbon Capture Through Bio-Sequestration

The opportunity for Australia to remove 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere will be lost if the Government does not include agricultural and biological sequestration offsets in the emissions trading scheme. So says Environment Business Australia CEO Fiona Wain.

 

Bio CCS – commercial scale demonstration of biological sequestration of CO2

 

The opportunity for Australia to remove 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere will be lost if the Government does not include agricultural and biological sequestration offsets in the emissions trading scheme.

 

Members of Environment Business Australia’s Bio-CCS group say that biological sequestration methods provide cost effective and environmentally beneficial  ways of safely drawing vast amounts of ‘legacy’ carbon from the atmosphere.  By 2020, or much earlier with a strong policy framework, more than a quarter of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions can be abated or drawn back into biological and terrestrial cycles.

 

EBA’s Bio-CCS group says a price on carbon is vital to ensure that offsets have market value and to cover the initial cost of ‘natural infrastructure’ development.  But once this is developed the lifecycle cost of carbon offsets can be provided for a fraction of the predicted costs of other solutions such as geological sequestration. 

 

The proposed Bio-CCS approaches include algae sequestration of CO2 from coal-fired power plants; improved rangeland management to encourage photosynthesis of CO2 to below ground sequestration in root systems;  selection of crops that offer high ‘plantstone’ yield where carbon is encapsulated permanently in silica; application of brown coal, other organic residues, and naturally occurring nutrients/biology to boost soil resilience and improve crop growth and soil carbon; and direct algal sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere over deep ocean areas to  sequester carbon in the deep ocean and promote fish stocks.

 

The Bio-CCS group emphasises that including biological offsets in the CPRS does not require agriculture’s emissions to be included in the near term.  The benefits include the opportunity to repair seriously degraded soils and increase agricultural productivity and drought/salinity resilience.  Farmers would also benefit by providing commercial offsets while industry makes the transition to a low carbon future. 

 

The group has been meeting with politicians keen to see responsible amendments to the CPRS to facilitate biological sequestration because of the national benefits to Australia and the opportunity to export knowledge and technology to other countries with soil degradation problems in particular Africa, China, India, Middle East and the USA.

 

Biological sequestration can offer solutions at scale and at speed, however, they should be part of a holistic approach to tackling climate change that includes energy efficiency; reduction of emissions from industry sectors, transport and cities; and fuel and energy switching to low/zero carbon emission sources.

 

Australia’s current greenhouse gas emissions are close to 600 million tonnes per annum.  The Bio CCS approach could cut Australia’s total emissions by at least 25% within a decade and has great application for other countries especially China, India, Africa and the USA.

 

The companies outlined below are the initial proponents of three major Bio CCS demonstration projects in Australia that will demonstrate the scope, scale and speed of biosequestration of carbon dioxide at point of emission and drawdown of ‘legacy’ carbon from the atmosphere.  The projects are in Victoria, South Queensland and Western Australia – and are open to all biosequestration systems, companies and farmers.

 

Each of these regional Bio CCS projects offers the opportunity to sequester 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and in the process to rebuild more productive agricultural soils, and to give farmers access to the carbon offset credits market.  And in the case of oceans – to help rebuild dwindling fish stocks.

 

However, this potential will only be realised with Government leadership on far-reaching policies including early incentives to catalyse change and unleash investment into capital expenditure – costs that will be recouped as operating costs decline, agricultural productivity increases, and a price on carbon takes effect giving value to biosequestration offset credits.

 

By treating CO2 as a feedstock and removing excess CO2 from a waste and pollution chain, biosequestration of carbon in soils, plants and oceans offers major commercially viable offset credits to the carbon market.  It is therefore very important that biosequestration be included in Australia’s emissions trading scheme. Reductions of CO2 created by all forms of biosequestration should receive similar legislative recognition as afforded to geological sequestration.

 

Australia has some 450 million hectares of grasslands and 25 million hectares of cropping lands and around 120,000 innovative, adaptable farmers.  Australia’s stable political and economic status also allows us to be genuine world leaders in regenerative grazing management and biological farming/fertilisation systems.  This is an opportunity to:

•           Improve the environmental, financial and social sustainability of farming enterprises

•           Create high quality long-term jobs in regional and rural Australia

•           Show that an energy intensive nation can make the transition to a low carbon economy.

 

The original UNFCCC agreement in 1992 stipulated that all carbon sinks (biological – terrestrial and oceanic) should be included within the framework so that the full carbon cycle is appropriately represented. Australia is well placed to lead the world in implementing all forms of biological sequestration and to transfer this knowledge to the developing world – Bio CCS should therefore form an integral part of the CPRS.

 

UNFAO are calling for soil carbon to be recognised in Copenhagen to provide incentives to farmers worldwide to improve food supp Richard Lambert is Director-General of the CBI ly/security.  The CSIRO  has confirmed that at least 25% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by biosequestration.  CSIRO has also confirmed that soil carbon can be measured – an international protocol is now needed to coordinate accountancy. 

 

Over a multi-year cycle Australian Government carbon accounting estimates show that drought and bushfires do not increase the average greenhouse gas emissions – in fact, biosequestration systems improve agricultural resilience to these natural events. In the USA the Waxman-Markey Bill includes agricultural offsets and soil carbon benefits. Scientists are increasingly warning that the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases must peak as quickly as possible and then be reduced.  

 

Biosequestration provides a large part of the solution to achieving this reduction in GHGs in time to avoid dangerous climate tipping points.

 

 

The Bio CCS group acknowledges the important work being done nationally and internationally on forestry, re-afforestation and deforestation land-clearing avoided but emphasises that soil, ocean, crop, native vegetation sequestration of carbon should be given the same policy support domestically and internationally.

 

Founding members of the Environment Business Australia Bio CCS group:

 

MBD Energy

Andrew Lawson, Managing Director

Email – andrew.lawson@mbdbiodiesel.com

Phone – 03 9415 8711

Website – www.mbdenergy.com

 

 

Ignite Energy Resources/LawrieCo

Dr John White & Adrian Lawrie

Email – john.white@igniteer.com

Phone – 03 8600 7000

Websites – www.igniteer.com & www.lawrieco.com.au

 

 

Soil Carbon

Tony Lovell, Managing Director

Email – tonyl@soilcarbon.com.au

Phone – 07 5553 7900

Website – www.soilcarbon.com.au

 

 

Plantstone Technology

Professor Leigh Sullivan, Southern Cross University

Email – sulfate@bigpond.net.au

Phone – 02 6628 1521

Website – www.plantstone.com.au

 

Ocean Nourishment

John Ridley, Managing Director

Email – john.ridley@oceannourishment.com

Phone – 02 9518 6150

Website – www.oceannourishment.com

 

Environment Business Australia

Fiona Wain, CEO

Email – fiona.wain@environmentbusiness.com.au

Phone – 02 9358 1800

Website – www.environmentbusiness.co.au

3 Responses to “Carbon Capture Through Bio-Sequestration”

  1. wilma western Says:

    I would like information about field trials which demonstrate the efficacy of brown coal dust as a fertiliser in promoting plant growth and yiels assuming coal dust will replace conventional applications of fertiliser . What is the comparable chemical composition of coal dust?

  2. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks, Emma.

  3. 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year?! You guys are kidding yourselves. 50 million tonnes of CO2 in woody biomass in the area you are talking about would take 50,000,000 t / 250 t ha = 200,000 ha per year…of MATURE forest. So assuming you had 200,000 ha planted (and you don’t), it would take at least 50 years to approach this number!

    Good Luck

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