Carbon capture and storage discussion

Dr. Julio Friedmann

Dr. Julio Friedmann, a senior fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he serves as the chief expert in energy technologies and systems, was the keynote speaker at Basin Electric’s 2016 Annual Meeting. He said for many years, he was introduced as “Obama’s coal guy,” having served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. Friedmann is one of the most widely known and authoritative experts in the nation on carbon capture and sequestration, and has led large carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Europe, Africa, North America and China.

During his keynote address, Friedmann discussed worldwide agreements addressing climate change. He said the Paris Agreement, signed and ratified earlier this year, was “beyond big.”

“This is a massive change,” he said. “Before this, we had the Kyoto Protocol, which was basically a circular firing squad where everyone was standing around with guns pointed at each other saying, ‘Aren’t you going to do this?’ Paris is a completely different business model. It is more of a weight loss club, where everyone raises their hands and says, ‘I’m going to lose 10 pounds.’”

Many of the parties that participated in the Paris agreement listed CCS as a part of their strategy to achieve the lofty clean power goals.  Companies across the U.S. and the world are beginning to develop a more proactive approach to clean power, investing in new carbon-capture technology and building CCS projects, diversifying energy profiles, setting up carbon target goals, and even purchasing companies that are in a good carbon position as a way to manage their carbon risks.

Friedmann gave an example of differing carbon-management strategies used by two similar countries in the past 10 years, which resulted in very different outcomes. Canada built projects, infrastructure, and accepted a surcharge where the money was invested in technology and innovation. These tactics have made Canada the global CCS leader. Australia, on the other hand, was a CCS leader 10 years ago, but because it stopped CCS projects it started, was not consistent in its policy, and reversed a tax that would fund technology and innovation, the country is now falling far behind countries like Canada.

Friedmann concluded by saying clean fossil energy has a real future. “That future is bright and resilient if you have carbon capture and storage. That will help create jobs and make the markets if you can get the policy support to do that,” he says. “We’ve got to improve policy, spend some money, and invest broadly in a bunch of different things. I am hopeful that in the next few months and the next few years, the U.S. will emerge as a global leader in this area and help sustain the assets we have, and take advantage of the natural endowment we have as a world-class enterprise.”