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A needless clash of titans was depicted in Sunday’s (2/12) SF Chronicle Business Report headline article from AP:  “Pipeline would make Canada a global player”.  Indeed, the $125 billion investing in tapping Tar Sands, NASA’s top climatologist says, would be “game over for the climate”.  Yesterday’s 800,000 signatures against the KXL pipeline highlight the colossal collision taking place. This post is about a win-win compromise, a possible way to align tar sands extraction with environmental protection.  It may piss off some environmentalists and oil exec’s to suggest this, but perhaps, conceivably, there is some common ground in a low-impact carbon-emission free hydrogen future starting in Canada. Needless to say, it would take a lot from both sides.

The historic “brown collision” of world oil business and those concerned about the global climate disaster is not going to stop, is a lose-lose, is wasteful, damaging and poor business.   An energy-addicted world needs to align on a “green dream” to provide ecology-friendly & profitable energy sources quickly. Delay and all will lose.  

Canada’s Win-Win is to sequester carbon, export electricity and hydrogen, and clean up the land. IMHO, it is accomplishable and profitable.  It would be extremely profitable if the risk costs of carbon were factored in:  droughts, heatwaves, floods, underwater cities, famines, etc.  are bad business.

Carbon Tax and Hydrogen Subsidies are probably the best business move the oil industry (and climate environmentalists) could make, like getting an addict to pay for switching to medicine.   Big Oil, China and Canada could leverage their investment in Alberta, and get paid a premium for transitioning to the next technological platform, perhaps supplying hydrogen to the airlines first.

The ”Carbon Brown” plan leads to Thermogeddon.  Dream “Hydrogen Green”, Oh Canada!

[Adapted from a Letter to the Editor, SF Chronicle]

More on the Lose-Lose and the Win-Win below the fold…

The Ultimate Train Wreak
The truth doesn’t go away, physically or politically.  Clearly the oil corporations, as the most profitable enterprises in history have considerable political weight.  Yet, as evidence of global heating will mount,  the political movement that and others brought to bear will increase.  The Canadian controversy over the Northern Gateway Pipeline certainly has local environmental concerns countering global energy  business.  The attention of the world is on these pipelines, as the choice of our futures is epitomized by the Canadian tar sands saga.  Witness the stubborn political promotion of the Keystone XL and the increasingly impressive mobilization of environmental activists are (over 800,000 signatures in 24 hours) by the sudden unprecedented coalition of over 30 organizations, including,,, Climate Reality, Common Cause, Oil Change International, NRDC, Sierra Club, and Democracy For America.

This situation pits the irresistible force (physics and planetary dynamics and public self-preservation) versus the inertia of the immovable object (the oil business).  While China and Big Oil See power and profit, and Canadian Minister Oliver mashes “environmental and other radical groups”, critics indeed “dislike the whole concept of tapping”  the second largest carbon bomb on the planet.  The pattern on this path is both the destruction of the oil business and the planet as we know it, for while we hesitate to battle over the old oil energy economy, we will pass the point of no return and end up in Thermal Hell: droughts, heatwaves, floods, underwater cities, famines, as we ruin the capacity of the Earth to support our 7 billion.  

Delay is A Lose-Lose
This delay pattern is playing out rather steadily as entrenched robust business interests support the anti-science rhetoric of climate change deniers. These elements with the GOP have stagnated carbon emission control measures through terms of two presidents so far.  While carbon-free and sustainable energy technologies have made progress, its rate of adoption so far is too little too late to prevent catastrophe.  

The climate is a train on a fast downhill track to a cliff – if we do nothing or too little, we will reach the end of Mother Earth’s tolerance for CO2 in the air, and cascading effects (methane release and ice loss) ensure a hotter planet, not resembling the last 10,000 years of stability.   The droughts will make the 1930’s Dust Bowl seem bountiful.  As the ecology, farms and the economy collapse under the strain of droughts and heatwaves (Think American Sahara), famines and skyrocketing food costs, the results will be social unrest, wars and hardship, causing oil companies to lose markets and public favor.  The oil business will be remembered as the cause of the Global Heating – not good for business.  With their hand on the throttle, the Koch Brothers will be the Engineers of Thermal Hell of Earth. Everyone loses in this scenario.  Everyone loses everything.

The Hydrogen Alignment Now
We have to stop and reverse the energy economy train now, not after climatic inertia makes it too late. If we get the train going in a different direction, everything can stay on track, but headed in the right (Carbon-free) direction.  

With the growth of electric vehicles, electricity can start to power our transportation.  Hydrogen is a viable carbon-free fuel, that is regularly produced in the refinement of crude oils, though is primarily consumed to crack heavier oils into lighter fuels.  Though it would produce even more carbon dioxide in the process, aiming to have exclusively H2 and Electrical output, could be done at one plant -- in the words of a Dept of Energy paper:  “Balanced production of H2, steam, and electricity in a single plant could best serve oil sands operation”.  If the carbon is contained, sequestered on a mass basis, then there is little cost to having more of it.

Carbon Sequestration
We can eat our carbon cake and not have it too. A solution to align the irresistible climatic force and the immovable fossil fuel establishment, particularly with the Canadian Tar Sands requires that to exploit the carbon bomb, you have to contain the carbon. That could be done at the source.  As a point source of CO2 with nearby geologic structures that could store CO2, that requirement seems accomplishable, though an unprecedented scale.  

Paying for it all: The Carbon – Hydrogen Cost Inversion
Ask the insurance companies about the risk cost of Thermal Hell.  If the next trillion tons of C02 were factored into future insurance models, little costs more than ruining the capacity of the Earth to support our 7 billion.  How much does it cost to insure NYC from flooding due to sea rise? How bad for business is a chaos-inducing global famine?  Factoring such risks into carbon fuel costs, and the inverse benefit of hydrogen to displace it, a carbon tax along with subsidies for hydrogen reflects the real costs, and in effect, pays for the conversion.  Helping hydrogen use and carbon sequestration to be cost-effective are the most effective market adjustments to stop and reverse the energy and climate change trains, avoiding the wreck.

Hydrogen Markets
Hydrogen is like natural gas-lite. It just takes more volume for the same energy, so certain applications are easier to implement right away.  Bus fleets, long haul trucks and the airlines (ask Virgin Airlines) could be the first customers, requiring limited distribution systems.  Investment in hydrogen storage technology can eventually make it more dense and convenient.  

The Eco/Business Win-Win
If Big Oil, Canada and China want to exploit a natural resource, I would ask that they do it in an ecologically-friendly manner. They must produce carbon-free energy by sequestering carbon, stop polluting, and cleanup the land.  Many, though not all, environmentalists might agree-- trusting the industry or a regulating agency may be a challenge to many.  

The technologies and regulations to create climate-protecting tar sands energy are no doubt challenging and expensive. Global policies and prices should prioritize and fund this. The public and business intention and will to value hydrogen far over carbon has yet to be promoted.  Yet it is a dream that is worth the expense, worth the risk, and worth aligning environmental groups, oil companies and governments – imagine that! They would all become heroes for generations that follow.  Everyone wins in this scenario. Everyone gets everything.

Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM PT: Also Applicable: - The last comment points to the H2 generator also outputing almost pure stream of CO2, but not sequestered. With the tremendous water consumption and destructive wailings ponds of processing the tar sands into refinable crude, clearly, the current methods are massively polluting.
This approach offers some low-impact options. One might be to burn (& sequester) unprocessed or minimally processed tar sands just to make electricity, and use electrolysis to generate H2.  

Originally posted to RandW on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 03:23 AM PST.

Also republished by The Royal Manticoran Rangers, Climate Hawks, and Community Spotlight.


Do you think its worth exploring the idea of common ground for sequestered-carbon, low pollution, hydrogen and electricity from tar sands?

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32%27 votes
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| 84 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  The only fact I have ever retained about tar sands (6+ / 0-)

    is that the price of oil has to be in the stratosphere for it to be economically feasible for a large scale recovery of them.

    And mirabile dictu - the cost of oil is surging just as TPTB decide that we MUST develop tar sands.

    Cause or effect?

    I really wish someone would write a good diary explaining whether and how much the price of gasoline is actually tied to cost of production and not to global speculation.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 04:57:15 AM PST

    •  Don't get into CT too much. (0+ / 0-)
      •  Is that a conspiracy theory? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I meant it as merely a cynical comment. I don't really care about that part of things, I care more about understanding what are the real and actual market forces driving the cost of oil and making tar sand recovery worthwhile.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 07:25:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  China and india and Brazil, oh my. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, EthrDemon

          The entire world is industrializing, not just the West. and the entire global population is growing. Oil consumption grows exponentially. Everything else is supply curve intersecting demand curve.

          •  Not exactly (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            divineorder, ozsea1

            Refineries are being closed and U.S. demand is down. Meanwhile U.S. oil production is up.

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

            by FishOutofWater on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:00:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Petrol is a global market (0+ / 0-)

              Refining capacity is certainly a factor. But market prices prices are for CRUDE. And those prices have soared to over $100/BLL.

              •  Yes, but oil consumption isn't really (0+ / 0-)

                growing exponentially - at least not in the usual sense of the word (but if the exponent is something like 0.0002 then it might be true . . . ).

                The reality is that global supplies are bumping up against "peak oil" constraints and probably can't realistically grow more than 5 or 10% from current levels.  Just running in place will become increasingly challenging.

                OTOH natural gas and coal remain relatively plentiful and their production is booming.

        •  High prices due to speculation reported last year (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IreGyre, mookins, NoMoreLies, ozsea1

          Different sources estimated different amounts of price increases due to speculation last spring but it may have been about 20%, I think.

          I was looking into this issue this morning.

          I think you are onto something. The Koch bros invented the oil futures derivatives market.

          Right now oil is in a contango situation where future prices are higher than today's price. This situation leads to hoarding.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:58:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  1m of crude for delivery in June 2012 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        seeing the market for that crude at 3m is not CT.

        If that is what you are refering too, then what evah......

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:33:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  OP basically said that mysterious forces (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          increased oil prices on purpose in order to make drilling in tar sands economically feasible. Maybe that's not the intended meaning of the comment but that's how it reads.

    •  The break-even cost of tar sands oil is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, Roger Fox, Roadbed Guy

      for the price of oil to be about $45/bbl - most people would not call this the "stratosphere."

      Look at the financials of Suncor (SU) an oil company that is based on production of Canadian Tar Sands oil.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 09:59:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Don't Know About The Price Of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnN, Roadbed Guy

      gasoline and global speculation; but I do know this, NO Tar Sands, None, Not Ever!

      Mountaintop Removal, Gas Fracking & Tar Sands XL Pipeline An American Tragedy!

      Stop Tar Sands!

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 06:28:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, that's the real axis of evil (0+ / 0-)

        tar sands, fracking, and MTR.

        Which baffles me how so many focus on tar sands (which is quantiatively the smallest of the three evils) like as though stopping/slowing it will be a meaningful panacea.

  •  but is reducing/eliminating 2 or 3% of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, 6412093

    global emmissions really going to change the trainwreck we're heading towards?  (which is the best case scenario of completely shutting down the tarsands or as you propose converting them into some type of no-emmission operation).

    IMHO, hardly, we might go off the cliff slightly slower but we're still going off the cliff.

    •  Tar sands emits what? Twice the CO2? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, DawnN

      when all the production energy is added to the eventual release when it is consumed as fuel? ...all the heating to get the oil to flow and separated is done using either huge amounts of natural gas (remember the big pipeline from Alaska that Palin was touting?) or oil or both. And the huge numbers of trucks, diggers and other machines will belch forth another sizable amount of CO2 and then the ecological destruction of huge areas on top of that and it is a wasteful nightmare. So what if it is 2 or 3% of global oil... it is even more destructive than all the rest. Deep continental shelf oil is potentially worse in some ways but that is a gamble. The tar sands will be destructive without question, that and the amount of water it needs should be a deal killer. And the Oil shales in the US and in Canada are the next in line and the pipeline will make them viable too but in an area that has even less water to spare.

      The pipeline must be stopped. It will only enable more destruction. Once in place the funding for it will be its own self fulfilling proposition.. without enough oil to pump it will not be cost effective so to keep banks or oil companies from suffering the oil must continue to flow to avoid dire economic something or the other..

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:49:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, not twice - about 22% more (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IreGyre, Quicklund, HeyMikey, ozsea1
        proposed a GHG emission value for oil from tar sands of 107 grammes of CO2 per megajoule of energy produced. The default value for conventional crude is 87.5g CO2/mj.

        Interestingly, the shale oils (think the current Bakken boom in North Dakota) are considerably worse:

        The Commission proposed a value of 131.3g CO2/mj for shale oil and 172g for liquefied coal.
        But you don't see all the venom directed their way on this site for some inexplicable reason . . .

        Regardless of all that, as long as the demand exists, both sources (and MTR coal mining for that matter, which is EVEN WORSE (although largely ignored, again)) will be developed.

        It is all kabuki theater if the demand side is not addressed.

        •  thanks... for that. Yes demand is important but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          what the demand is for and why specific sources is important too. We need the demand to be more generic and steered away from the wrong kinds of energy. The companies who are vested in the fossils have re-routed and blocked any way but their way. The incentives for alternatives are choked off and instead there are even more incentives for these dinosaur industries.

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 01:37:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you look into non-DailyKos sources (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Quicklund, ozsea1

            (compiled extensively for example at the New York Times and the Globe and Mail) the deal is that blocking Keystone will do next to nothing to stop the development of the Tarsands.

            And even if it did - at its maximum output the Tarsands will be about 3 or 4 % of global carbon output  - or to put it another way the 22% premium calculated by the Europeans (which I linked above) means that the global impact will be about 1%

            Sure, if 1% of global emissions can be prevented, that's a worthy goal - just like if Rick Santorum sponsors a bill to make Adolf Hitler's birthday a National Holiday - it would be a no-brainer for Obama to veto that.  But when everyone wakes up the next day, very little will have changed despite that symbolic victory . .

            •  Blocking something is a start. but not enough (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund, DawnN

              But equally not blocking something unwise means the next bad idea will be easier not less easy. Each one must be fought individually and all must be fought so that it is more possible to make the better choices instead of the worse ones...and while green alternatives made more likely at the same time... all the different solutions need to be make more possible whether stop gaps like carbon trading/credits, more efficient building codes, lights, heating cooling... more of what people have already been doing and most of all weaning off coal, oil, gas...

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 04:47:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The problem is that blocking Keystone doesn't (0+ / 0-)

                make the next thing less easy, it really has no effect on it.

                And the "next" thing is development of the USA's "tight oil" supplies (which as I link above is enviromentally worse than the tar sands)

                High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.

                In 2009, however, US output started to grow again, led by offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico then on­shore tight oil. Techniques such as those being used in North Dakota are being tried in tight oil reserves all over North America: in the Eagle Ford shale and Permian basin in Texas and the Utica shale in Ohio and Pennsylvania. IHS Cera forecasts that US tight oil production will rise from 900,000 b/d this year to 2.9m b/d in 2020 – roughly half today’s total US output.

                In other words, over the next decade shale oil production is project to grow twice as fast as tar sands production (at which time they'll be both producing approximately the same amount, 3,000,000 bbl/day).

                In other words an absolute clusterfuck that is absolutely not addressed by blocking a pipeline - seriously, there are pipelines and railroads everyone - if the oil can't slosh in one direction, it'll just go someplace else.  What is absolutely certain is that it will go * someplace * !!

                Unless something serious is done on the demand side of the equation, which there isn't (and there are essentially zero prospects of that until 2017, which is certain to be much too late).

        •  If that link is not working, I apologize (0+ / 0-)

          it was the number 2 on the list from a google search I just did

          Maybe that will work

    •  About 40% of US CO2 emissions come from oil(~100% (0+ / 0-)

      of US transport)
      By going from liquid fuel transport to hydrogen fuel cells
      releasing only water vapor exhaust.

  •  I could live with further development (0+ / 0-)

    of fossil fuel sources IF the equivalent amount of effort and investment was going into effective preparation for their eventual replacement.

    Personally I would favour a "Energy Development Tax" on the fossil fuel companies, that reduced their profits to simply "large", and for those funds to be used for developing alternative energy sources.

    I wouldn't even mind if a consortium of the current oil and gas industry was doing the work ... they will want to be involved anyway.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 07:43:37 AM PST

  •  A Hydrogen Economy (6+ / 0-)

    is make believe.

    Hydrogen is an energy storage medium, not an energy source.

    Get used to walking.

    •  All fuels are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      energy storage.

      Why single out hydrogen?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 09:43:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hydrogen as H2 gas is not really found in nature (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HiBob, offgrid

        except in outer space.

        Hydrogen in the world people live in is not in its elemental form H2, except for when people conduct chemical reactions or electrolysis - where energy is injected into these reactions.  The sources of H2 that we have all require more energy to get it than its use produces when used.  That is why H2 is better understood as an "energy container" rather than as an energy source.

        Fossil fuels however are found in nature and they can be readily used to produce net energy.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:08:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, or else it'd be a perpetual motion machine (0+ / 0-)
          The sources of H2 that we have all require more energy to get it than its use produces when used.
          (or whatever the energy storage equivalent of a perpetual motion machine is).

          Essentially, hydrogen could be considered to be a battery to store the tarsands energy for transport and use elsewhere.  I'm not convinced that's a very good idea but OTOH it's not an out-of-the-hand ridiculous idea either.

      •  You have to generate energy (0+ / 0-)

        In order to create the hydrogen gas and to compress it into tanks.

        You use more energy for that process than you get back when you finally burn the hydrogen.

        Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

        by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:17:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And that's how they pull wool over everybodys eyes (0+ / 0-)

          Because they know not everybody is an engineer or scientist.

          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

          by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:19:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Lets compare those energy losses (0+ / 0-)

          to batteries and oil and nat gas, the laws of Thermodynamics applies to all of the above.

          SO unless youve found a way around the Laws of Thermodynamics..........

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:55:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Compare apples to apples then (0+ / 0-)

            Hydron fuel cells are fine if they get the energy from the sun or the wind.

            What would be the point of converting natural gas or oil to hydrogen though?

            Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

            by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:57:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not the diaries author (0+ / 0-)

              I never made those claims.

              What would be the point of converting natural gas or oil to hydrogen though

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:02:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The idea is to get oil industry to contain carbon (0+ / 0-)

              Its not the ideal of true renewables, but if we can sequester the carbon at the source, then converting fossil fuels to hydrogen achieves carbon-free energy AND co-opts the oil business efforts to do otherwise.

        •  Arguable (0+ / 0-)

          We use quite a lot of energy liberating the energy from most fuels.

          Energy is useless if it is not in a form we can deploy.

          So we could use energy not currently useable, to create hydrogen which is.

          My point was that hydrogen is stored energy, much as oil or coal is.

          The rest is a matter of liberation.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:47:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We can make machines (0+ / 0-)

            That collect energy from the sun or wind and create tanks of hydrogen by splitting water molecules.  That's fine.

            But what does that have to do with the tar sands?

            They are extracting oil and gas that is readily burnable.

            Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

            by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:28:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  There may be efficient catalysts that will enable (0+ / 0-)

          low energy H2 production. there is some promising research. If any of that pans out someday then yes H2 will be viable... but until then only green electricity can make H2 without it just being a masked from of fossil fuel energy.

          so if there was enough wind, solar, hydro, tidal, biomass and even geothermal to have enough to spare to make H2 then it could replace fossil fuels as storable energy

          But there is also some very promising battery research that may make hydrogen unnecessary as a common fuel... storage of green electricity in cheap and high capacity quick charging batteries may actually be the real breakthrough.

          add to that very low cost ubiquitous solar cells and fossil fuel is dead and no need for Hydrogen based fuel either.

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:56:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree, Tars Sands-H2 = fossil energy,but minus CO2 (0+ / 0-)

            The point of the proposal is to sequester the carbon at the source. H2 from tar sands becomes the medium to deliver energy without carbon pollution.  Inefficient, but carbon-free if sequestered.

            •  The sequestration costs have to work as well (0+ / 0-)

              and the sequestration technology has to be foolproof too.

              I don't know as mentioned... the unprecedented  scale of it could be problematical or it could make it more efficient. hard to know now and any investment would be huge and only committed if it was shown to be 100% workable and the hydrogen infrastructure went continental... hard to get from here to there... but multiple H2 sources could help spread uptake of H2 vehicles etc.

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 01:47:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Incorrect. Gasoline is not simply a storage medium (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox, HiBob

        The energy derived from burning gasoline is far greater than the energy used in its extraction, refining, and transportation.

        That statement is reversed WRT hydrogen. It costs more energy to put it into a fuel tank than is returned by its consumption.

        •  Sure it is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          it's storing ancient solar energy

          •  Hence the complications (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Of the entire topic.

            You are certainly correct in your statement, but it's entirely beside the point.

            Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

            by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:02:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But it is relevant to this point: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              That statement is reversed WRT hydrogen. It costs more energy to put it into a fuel tank than is returned by its consumption.
              Is the Chevy Volt bad/undesirable for the same reason?  (because it surely DOES cost more in energy to charge the batteries of this car than is returned by its consumption).
              •  It depends on how the electricity is generated (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                IreGyre, Quicklund

                That's the real question here.

                If it's collected from the sun, then the loss in conversion isn't changing the atmosphere.

                If you burn coal to charge up the batteries, then we are still in the same boat.

                Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                by yet another liberal on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:33:07 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It depends on if fossil fuel carbon is captured (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  enemy of the people

                  If you burn tar sand oil (or coal) and sequester the carbon, then its carbon-free...  WHile the scale of this is like "clean coal" (which does not exist), with carbon tax and hydrogen subsidies, I'm suggesting its conceivably possible, and would get the oil business into a pollution-free mode.

                  •  The deal is that carbon sequestration (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    requires something like 35 to 50% of the energy contained in the fuel.

                    Which means that the entire enterprise is incredibly inefficienc when you have competitors in China or India who aren't doing likewise.

                    And a domestic mindset that refuses to provide public subsidies (i.e., a carbon tax) to support the sequestration you suggest.

                    •  Hypocritical to talk of CCS energy inefficiency. (0+ / 0-)

                      We don't care that 66% of energy in FF plants is wasted
                      by the laws of thermodynamics but do care very much about 25% more energy needed  to clean up the pollution.

                      To make 2 Mwh of electricity you need 1 ton of coal.
                      If you do CCS with standard technology you need 1.25 tons of coal, but by using advanced equipment that is more efficient(40%) than a typical coal fired plant(33%)  you actually need less coal tonnage per MWH.

                      It's like complaining about your light bulb but you're too cheap to buy CFLs.

                    •  Inefficiency is not necessarily the problem (0+ / 0-)

                      China and India need to import energy.  The proposal would switch tar sands output from not-so-cheap crude to more valuable electricity and hydrogen.    As I point out in other comments, the inefficiency just means more sands to be processed from a huge reserve.  How competitive that would be just depends on the cost of oil.  The scenario provides incentives to reduce the cost of sequestration - something that is really needed right now.

                      I acknowledge your point about carbon tax, which is why I made the ironic point to the oil industry that such a tax and hydrogen subsidies would be their best move, paying for the conversion.  If, god willing, we are able to prevent big pipelines from pumping tar sand oils out from Alberta, hopefully the oil companies will truncate their efforts. However, I doubt that. The kind of money to be made with the price of oil escalating IMHO ensures a "fight to the death", pretty literally, with regard to the climate.  This proposal, however marginally practical, at least aligns that profit motive to exploit the resource with the cliamte protect requirements of carbon capture.

              •  Tangents start when context is ignored (0+ / 0-)

                Tangents start for other reasons too. But in this case you are focusing on some rushed text while ignoring the salient point: Fossil fuels are valuable because they can be dug up and burned at a net energy profit.

                Hydrogen does not exist in similar, huge, naturally-occurring reservoirs. It is generally obtained by breaking apart molecules that contain hydrogen. That cycles is a net energy loss.

          •  Yes that is correct (0+ / 0-)

            It is misleading as to the point of this conversation though.

        •  You 're not counting the energy in crude oil to (0+ / 0-)

          make gasoline.

          Most hydrogen is produced from natural gas ( at an efficiency of 70%), not electricity as you' may be thinking.

          Look at coal fired electricity--very little energy is used mining,etc. only 35% of  the incoming energy of the coal becomes power, the rest is simply waste.

          The amount of energy to put H2 in a fuel tank
          by compression is about 10% of the value of hydrogen coming in.

          In an oil refinery, 20% of  incoming energy is consumed
          Using compressed hydrogen from NG to power a car would be about 37% of the incoming energy of the natural gas and fuel cell cars are more than twice as energy efficient as gasoline powered car motors.

      •  There is a difference (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        We burn natural gas.... ok? what is nat gas? Methane is hydrogen = 1 carbon 4 hydrogen molecules. Carbon is then released into the air.

        In a fuel cell vehicle we are not "burning the hydrogen", the hydrogen is combined with Oxygen to form water.

        Then we can use electrolysis to split that water - H2o back into Oxygen and hydrogen, and use the hydrogen in the same fuel cell.

        Yes,  liquid fuels are storage, but from a strictly scientific view, burning nat gas is like burning coal or wood, hydrogen fuel cells are not.

        OTOH scomber's comment is over the top. "Make believe"=what evah..... and frankly I dont think we should be surprised.
        Once hydrogen fuel cell technology is developed to the point of practicality, hydrogen will play a major role in future energy infrastructure. FOr now we're using batteries in cars, and starting the transition from oil based transport to electrical transport.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:52:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think youre missing the point of the post. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We have to reduce CO2 emissions and we need FF energy(~90% of current energy mix). Jim Hansen says we need to phase out FF in 20 years to avoid getting into intense GW. Hansen says we must stop extracting FF over the next 20 years. An alternate view is to sequester CO2 from power plants and use hydrogen for fuel.
          Personally I think we can convert much of our FF infrastructure to CCS. I think abstaining from 90% of our energy sources is a little bit too much of a crash diet.

          •  Yeah 20 yrs is a crash diet 4 sure (0+ / 0-)

            2032?  Ouch.

            And no I'm not missing the point of the diary, see my other comments specific to the diary- specially the one about offering a path out of the woods.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:32:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  A silly distinction without a difference. (0+ / 0-)

      Gasoline is an energy storage medium also unless your car runs on crude oil. You can make hydrogen from natural gas or coal or any hudrocarbon.

  •  Hydrogen is NOT an energy source (3+ / 0-)

    It COSTS energy to produce hydrogen. It costs energy to build Duracell batteries. That is why we cannot just shift over to an all-Duracell energy model. We cannot shift over to a hydrogen fuel model for the same reason. Hydrogen is a way to store energy for later use.

    The energy yield from any hydrogen captured during tar sands mining would be overwhelmed by the energy use of the mining process itself. Not to mention the energy use for sequestration. Which no one knows will work, if my understanding is correct.

    Hydrogen is not a green technology at all, unless the Hydrogen can be produced with power derived from green sources: wind, solar, goethermal, fusion. Deriving it from the tar sand project strikes me as fanciful at best.

    •  All true. But (0+ / 0-)

      the diarist mentions sequestration as an indispensable element in this so-called green plan. If the carbon from production is all sequestered, then what does it matter if you burn more of the oil recovered converting it to hydrogen?

      You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

      by Simian on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:58:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I mentioned sequestration (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Not to mention the energy use for sequestration. Which no one knows will work, if my understanding is correct.
        Sequestration is a pipe dream at this point. Massive amounts of energy are now used to pull huge amounts of matter out of the Earth. This diary suggests doing that - then putting 99.99% of that mass right back into the earth. That is a hugely inefficient process.

        Obviously I have not crunched the numbers. But it seems to me that thew Tar Sands are about the worst place to attempt to "mine" for hydrogen.

  •  Bad Idea (6+ / 0-)

    Where would they get the energy to produce the Hydrogen?  Tar Sands ALREADY require 1 unit of natural gas energy to extract and upgrade 4 units of energy in the form of crude oil.  Then, the crude needs to be refined into petrochemicals and oil refineries are known to have about %86 efficiency in terms of energy inputs versus energy contents of their outputs (gasoline, diesel, etc.)  

    Cracking the crude oil to get hydrogen would be less efficient since you don't get the energy from the oxidation of the carbon during combustion.  Steam reformation of methane CAN be %80 efficient, but this is close to ideal.  Since crude has LESS hydrogen per C atom, it will take more energy to liberate a given amount of hydrogen, pushing the efficiency more towards %70 or lower.  THEN you have to bury the carbon.  For comparison's sake, a coal plant that can capture its carbon emissions will use %30 - %40 of its output energy to do so.  Best case, you're down to %49 efficiency just to get the hydrogen, and since you already burned all that natural gas just to get the crude, the EROEI of this process is probably close to 2, i.e. marginally better than corn ethanol.

    If you don't use natural gas, do you plan to use nuclear power to provide process heat?  If so, why don't we just use the output of these expensive reactors to charge electric vehicles and bypass all the chemical reactions and material transport that would bog down the efficiency of this Tar Sands hydrogen scheme?  We would need about 1/3 of the reactors to charge electric cars vs. producing hydrogen with tar sands.  In addition, building a nuclear reactor is becoming a $6B+ affair played out over 10 years or so.  

    It would be easier to grow next-generation biofuels for air transport and long-haul shipping and do most light-duty transportation with electricity.  

    The cheapest form of carbon sequestration is to never dig up the fossil fuels in the first place.

    •  I like this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpoutney, NoMoreLies
      The cheapest form of carbon sequestration is to never dig up the fossil fuels in the first place.
      SPlitting water to get hydrogen IMHO will be the way to get it done. Though I think practical fuel cell vehicles are still a bit downthe road.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:59:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you use electricity... (0+ / 0-)

        to split the water.  Why not charge a battery with it instead?  Total supply chain efficiency of hydrogen from electrolysis is 1/3 that of using electricity to charge a battery.  An energy carrier that competes with its own source (electricity) is not viable, especially considering the high capital costs of a "hydrogen economy".

    •  No. The hydrogen comes from water-shifting (0+ / 0-)

      Hydrocarbons + air --> carbon monoxide CO,
      CO+H20--> H2 hydrogen gas + CO2,
      you bury the CO2.

      And EROI is junk science.

      •  Yeah, Fischer-Tropsch or something similar (0+ / 0-)

        I get it, but WHERE do you get the input energy?  FT is not as efficient as extracting, upgrading and refining tar sands (the current method).  Will you burn more natural gas or building up nuclear reactors in the area?  BTW, using nukes for process heat is totally unproven, especially at this scale.

        Either approach actually gives you more usable energy (probably 3x more with LOWER capital costs to boot) if used to charge electric cars instead of making Hydrogen.  You have to realize that energy and money are not in infinite supply.  Wasting EITHER on less effective approaches lowers the amount of emissions reductions we can achieve in other areas AND slows the emissions decline path in the process, making the worst effects of climate change come on sooner than a wiser investment strategy.

        Finally, how is EROEI junk science?  If you spend more energy to get energy, eventually you approach an EREOI of 1 and then society is screwed if this process produces a large percentage of our energy supply.  The fact that fossil fuels have declining EROEI means that their production profiles get MUCH more unstable as supply dwindles.  The fact that ANY fossil resource is GUARANTEED to have a declining EROEI means that any concern for the long-term well-being of the human race precludes investment in them.  If a process can take dirty energy and turn it into clean energy, then EROEI is less of an issue, as long as it stays ABOVE a certain level.  However, since tar sands are a fossil resource, we have exactly ZERO guarantees that its EROEI will stay above a certain value.  

    •  Inefficient, yes.How else to get oil to play nice? (0+ / 0-)

      I totally agree with your point that producing H2 from the tar sands alone is relatively inefficient. Electricity from it is much better in that regard.  My point is that efficiency  alone is not a determining factor for ecological or business success with a robust single site oil source that sequesters its carbon, especially if the costs of carbon and hydrogen are flipped.  It is incremental cost that it takes more raw bitumen from the ground for a unit of energy -  we are not taking food crops.  Since EROEI isn't the issue, nuclear is not needed.

      I also totally agree that there are many better ways to create fuels. The problem is convincing Canada and the oil companies of that right now, and avoid pumping a billion tons of CO2 from tar sands into the air.  The approach suggested allows the companies to leverage their investment, protects the environment, and initiates a carbon-free energy system.  

      While its cheaper to leave carbon in the ground, as noted in other comments, 90% of our energy economy is demanding that it be dug up. Sequestration techniques need to improve to reduce their costs, and in this scenario would be incentivized.  

      As a way to leverage and store energy from variable renewable sources such as solar and wind, hydrogen is a viable alternative for some applications.  Building H2 infrastructure to support consumers sets the stage for H2 fuel cells, more practical storage and other techological breakthroughs.

      My bottom line is that H2 from tar sands is an imperfect bridging solution that will co-opt the forces resisting non-carbon energy. It won't put more carbon in the air, and will break the logjam that is holding back the non-carbon economy, by aligning energy and eco groups on a solution, despite its inefficiency

  •  We've seen delay=gridlock (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, offgrid

    for too long. And yes that makes a lose lose.

    Personally I tired of the negative/whining trend over 30 years, I see so much energy being put into something like anti nuke, I do see diminishing returns with telling the world about how bad our problems are... I dont see enough conversation about the path out of the woods.

    And thats something this diary does, its a conversation about solutions, about the policies that offer us a path out of the woods.

    I get very excited about projects like the Atlantic Wind Connection, a 350 mile long offshore HVDC trunkline to support a potential 1750 4Mw turbines, 7 gigs- from NJ to Virginia beach, 15 to 20 miles offshore.

    I get excited when I read that hydro storage increased by 40% last year.

    And I agree with RandW, too late too little, these are only baby steps, the first ones. We need bigger faster better. Yesterday.

    Republished to Royal Manticoran Rangers for more eyes.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 10:30:52 AM PST

  •  Alternative energy will become "green" (0+ / 0-)

    when increases in its use are matched by decreases in the use of fossil energy.

    Under capitalism this will never happen.

    "I think the Obama campaign would be taking this populist-sounding tack even if Occupy had never happened." -- Paul Street

    by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:16:36 AM PST

  •  Hydrogen is a really bad fuel// Pu mo' betta (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    low energy density
    difficult to store
    nigh impossible to transport (metal intrussion)
    unforeseen effect of massive water imposition

    " In England, any man who wears a sword and a wig is ashamed to be illiterate. I believe it is not so in France" Sam. Johnson, per Boswell

    by Mark B on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:06:41 PM PST

    •  sequestration yes, but why not coal? why H2? (0+ / 0-)

      Mark B nails it - H2 is a really awkward fuel, electricity is probably easier.

      If you put the money into sequestration it may easier to do it at power plants and have easily shipped coal as your stored energy. Certainly at the plant is easier for ground injection.

      Once you say sequestration you start asking is wind/solar cheaper?

  •  While we're on the topic of possible future fuels, (0+ / 0-)

    here's a great article about ammonia as a fuel.

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:31:21 PM PST

  •  I wish I could wear those rosy glasses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but hydrogen powered airplanes and automotive fuel cells are nowhere near practical implementation.  Hydrogen has been a tricky fuel source ever since the Hindenburg.

    Every day that hard oil is refined is another day closer to the climate change precipice.  Not only is it GHG intensive, it's water intensive.   There's no way to sugarcoat that reality with some magical technology that's just over the horizon.

    Ballard Power Systems is the biggest proponent and has invested the most R&D into fuel cells.  I recall their stock hit 114 USD back in 2000.

    BLPD (on the NASDAQ) is trading around a buck and half today.  A look at their five year chart speaks volumes.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 01:05:21 PM PST

    •  No glasses needed: Hydrogen now in Oakland buses (0+ / 0-)

      While I acknowledge there are currently no hydrogen airplanes or a practical fuel cell, the fact is that anything that can burn natural gas can use hydrogen. There are H2 buses driving around Oakland everyday.

      It is the density of storage that is the limiting factor for many applications (I do have an approach for airplanes, but thats not the point).  The more we increase the availability of H2, the more practical its implementation will become as we innovate and the economics of scale apply.

      I agree that oil is driving us toward disaster. That's why i suggesting to leverage the investment in tar sands toward electricity and H2 while requiring its carbon pollution to be sequestered.  Its not a magic wand for the global problem, but it may be a significant step toward redirecting and containing the second largest carbon bomb on the planet, while helping to spur an H2 energy economy that could eventually be supplied by solar electrolysis or other non-oil sources.

  •  I don't get it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why produce hydrogen from fossil fuels when you can just use water? Water produces both H2 and O2 which contain no unneeded extra elements that need to be sequestered.

    I think we should develop plentiful renewable energy that can be developed completely within our borders. If we allowed American farmers to grow hemp as a normal rotation crop all across the nation we could produce enough advanced biofuels to replace all the foreign oil we now import. Hemp is four times more efficient in converting solar energy through photosynthesis into usable biomass energy than any other commercially viable crop. An acre of hemp can produce up to 10 tons of dry biomass in as little as 100 days. With modern enzyme production techniques a dry ton of hemp biomass can produce up to 100 gallons of ethanol. Another 15 gallons/ton can be make into hemp seed oil biodiesel. Ethanol can be mixed with biodiesel and reformed/refined with natural gas to produce a cleaner burning "gasoline" product that can be produced and sold locally which will keep energy dollars in local communities while producing many good green living wage jobs.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:30:41 PM PST

  •  Um, who ever told you that hydrogen... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, HeyMikey

    ...was "clean and green."

    There's a thermodynamic penalty - a big one - from making one chemical fuel into another.

    All thermodynamic penalties translate into environmental penalties, big ones.

    This sort of bull was proposed by Pacala and Socolow in their very absurd paper about climate wedgies with "existing technologies."

    There are zero large scale carbon dioxide sequestration facilities on this planet, and for all the talk, they've proved as useless as the "solar will save us" strategy.   Sequestration is a scheme that like almost every other hand waving energy scheme proposed by our awful, barely educated generation:   It's a scheme to dump our irresponsibility on future generations to make them sort it out.

    The possibility of sequestering carbon dioxide for eternity is zero.   I doubt that a billion tons could be sequestered for 10 or 20 years, and the current dump rate is the highest ever observed - despite all the bull we've been hearing - more than 30 billion metric tons per year.

    Have a nice day.

    •  You're thinking radioactive waste. You don't need (0+ / 0-)

      to store it for thousand of years. If it leaked 1% per year
      you'd still reduce emissions by 99%.
      How can you talk about thermodynamic penalties when nuclear reactors are only 30% efficient.

      •  He's correct on this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, Roadbed Guy

        He may hate me by now but that doesn't mean he didn't get this one right.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:25:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Solid carbon is not toxic and in fact has (0+ / 0-)

        many green uses.

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 06:00:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's always fun to watch an anti-nuke speak (0+ / 0-)

        in favor of dangerous fossil fuels, since that's their real agenda.

        Just for the record kiddie, what's the efficiency of a coal plant?    How about the thermodynamic efficiency of a tar sands liquefaction plant, followed upon by the efficiency of the dirty little car that burns the dangerous gasoline and then dumps the waste in the atomsphere.?

        None of the anti-nukes who are so fascinated with the storage of used nuclear fuel - which they, in their illiterate sloganeering refer to as "nuclear waste" give a fuck about the reality that no one is injured by such storage, while over two million people die from dangerous fossil fuel waste.

        In a sequestration facility, the "half life" of CO2 is infinite but you don't give a rat's ass.

        As for your "thousands of years" statement, that's also illiterate.    We live in the golden age of actinide and lanthanide radiochemistry, and I assure you - based on my up to date understanding of that science - that in countries where ignorance has little sway used nuclear fuel will become an extremely valuable resource.

    •  Hydrogen is only as clean as its source (0+ / 0-)

      and I agree that tar sands is a pretty ugly source, but it stands the possibility of reburying the carbon back into the ground to contain the ugliness. Inefficiency does not have environmental penalties if the impacts and pollutants are contained.

      There is no mass sequestration yet because we haven't made the pollution costs stick to the polluters.  The techniques are simple (no hand-waving needed) but much research is needed to make it more practical, and the proposed scenario provides incentives for that.  We could use a lot more sequestration right not.

      Geologic structures seem capable of containing gases for millions of years (witness natural gas and helium). Putting the billion tons of CO2 from tar sands back in the ground is certainly a huge challenge, but it just might be something that mitigates the impact of the current drive to exploit alternative fossil fuels until carbon-free energy sources take hold.

      We may disgree about looking at the climate problem as wedges, but simple approaches often have the best chance of success. Even James Hanson points out that converting coal plants to natural gas goes a long way toward reducing carbon emissions.  

      The tar sands to H2 with sequestration is a compromise approach to accomodate and co-opt the oil industry while protecting the environment.  I'm open to better ideas to prevent tapping that carbon bomb in the short run.  Please, bring them on.

  •  But how do you sequester carbon? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    How do you reliably sequester carbon over geological spans of time without using up the energy you liberated?

    Ideology is when you know the answers before you know the questions.
    It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 04:36:45 PM PST

    •  Growing hemp and use the hemp (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, Alden

      to structurally support concrete. It's called hempcrete and it could sequester significant amounts of carbon for many decades.  

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:52:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Geologic structures... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... seem capable of containing gases for millions of years (witness natural gas and helium). It would take a fraction of the energy obtained from tar sands to pump CO2 into deep structures.  While not particularly efficient, it would contain the pollutant.

  •  Storing carbon, where? (0+ / 0-)

    in the earth.

    Earth's crust is not a purpose-built vessel for holding CO2, and the storage must last thousands of years so the risk of leak must be taken seriously.

    Even the volume of CO2 generated by a sparsely populated country such as Australia beggars belief. Imagine a pile of 200-litre drums, ten kilometres long and five across, stacked ten drums high. [1.3 billion drums] Even when compressed to liquid form, that daily output would take up a cubic kilometre, and Australia accounts for less than 2 per cent of global emissions! Imagine injecting 50 cubic kilometre of liquid CO2 into the Earth's crust every day of the year for the next century or two.

    Carbon capture is a neat trick for continuing the status quo, forget about conservation, alternative transportation, forget about getting off the the oil addiction.

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 07:53:18 PM PST

    •  Capture as a weaning strategy (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that carbon capture across the board is not the solution. I agree that the scale proposed of 1BmT over 20 years is staggering - of the magnitude of the effort to extract the oil in first place.  That natural gas and helium have been held in geologic pockets for millions of years is pretty good evidence of the security of the containment.

      I'm proposing it just for the Canadian tar sands because it could contain the second-largest carbon bomb on the planet at the site in the short-term.  Rather than forgetting about the things that you point out that we need to do, this approach delivers electricity and hydrogen rather than oil, and will help spur those energy economies.

      As I has said in other comments, this proposal is a compromise. There are many things that environmentalists and alternative energy proponents won't like, and many things that the oil business won't either.  Since there is $125 billion investment momentum in the tar sands, I'm just suggesting that just for now, converting that resource to electricity and H2 while containing the CO2 would be a way to wean us off of our oil addiction while protecting the environment.

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