One of the world’s most promising potential solutions to climate change is currently highly dependent on oil production. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems intercept emissions of the greenhouse gas and pump them into wells deep underground. This technology could end concerns over human-caused climate change if—and this is a big if—it can be profitably deployed. Just last month, the first commercial CCS operation started up in Canada, and as the FT reports, it’s only viable because of oil:
SaskPower, a Canadian utility, last month became the first company to launch a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage system on a coal power plant, at its Boundary Dam site in the province of Saskatchewan. […]SaskPower confirmed that the project’s long-term financial viability is underpinned by a 10-year deal to sell all its captured carbon dioxide to another company, Canadian oil group Cenovus Energy, so the gas can be injected into nearby ageing oil fields to boost flagging recovery rates – a process known as enhanced oil recovery. […]“Enhanced oil recovery is an essential component for the economics of the project,” Mr Monea said in an interview with the Financial Times.
There’s an undeniable irony in the fact that one of the great green dreams is currently reliant on the extraction of a fossil fuel. Greens prefer to see the world in black and white, or maybe more accurately green and brown, and have a habit of ignoring technologies or narratives that don’t fit their simplistic world view. The story of this Saskatchewan CCS system shows what that world view misses: the shades of gray where the best solutions to the problem of climate change are most likely to be found.