Bridge to a Cleaner Energy Future, is a documentary style short film that is intended to engage the global community in a conversation about the vital role carbon capture and storage (CCS) must play in mitigating climate change.

Spearheaded by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers the video includes a cross-section of climate change and CCS thought leaders. Collectively they describe, in common sense and understandable language, the many reasons why the world needs CCS.  

Beth Hardy, VP of Strategy and Stakeholder Relations for the International CCS Knowledge Centre and I, were honoured to be involved. As she emphasizes in the film, “It’s clear we need everything; we need wind, we need solar, but we also need this large-scale solution for emission reduction in the power space and other industrial sectors.”

The world has now developed and can access the only technology that is capable of helping us reach the 2oC target of the Paris Agreement.  Sandra Odendhahl, President and CEO of CMC Research Institutes states that, “It will be an inhospitable planet if we don’t do anything about CO2.” 

We need everything because as Julio Freedman the Carbon Wrangler emphasizes, “there is no math to get us to where we need to be with respect to the 2 degrees target set out by the Paris Agreement, without CCS.  We have to do CCS and carbon to products.  We need more shots on net!”

Carbon can be captured and reused to produce commercially viable products.  It is being pumped into oil fields to extract more oil that would otherwise be left behind. “When we use CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) we get revenue back from the oil because we free up what is tucked down there and turn it into a commodity,” says Ian MacGregor, Chairman and CEO of NW Refining Inc.  And the beauty of EOR is that the CO2 that is pumped into the reservoirs for further oil extraction becomes sequestered in the reservoirs and sandstone.  

Erik Nickel, Director of Operations at the Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Saskatchewan explains, “…that up to 20% of underground sandstone is made up of air space.  Stretched over hundreds of miles, this space creates a very large, safe storage cavern for CCS.”  With CCS we can reduce the amount of CO2 that is emitted, we can reuse the carbon to produce new products and we can store what we don’t need safely underground for years.  As Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute explains, “CO2 storage is completely safe, completely understood and it is secure.  It’s not coming back.”

There is no question that CCS is a serious investment. Now that we have proven the technology, the next thing to do is make it economical. Tim Wiwchar, Athabasca Oil Sands Project Portfolio Manager sees the momentum starting to build. Over the last few years, Shell has seen the cost to operate their Quest CCS pilot project in Alberta drop down to the mid 20’s per tonne.  This is both crucial and exciting because, it means that the carbon price is now paying for the operation.  Tim says, “it’s important to deploy more CCS and keep getting these costs down.”

And with incentives like 45Q in the United States, we can see that the economic conversation around CCS has turned a corner.  We are starting to see that you can knock the price down and there are going to be more and more ways to do this. Alison Cartier, Marketing and Communications Manager at Inventys, Inc. underscores the fact that, “Oil is a requirement in our societies today.  If we can produce the products we need with a lower carbon footprint, we will be further ahead.”  Incentives and innovation will play an important roll in getting us there.

As with any industry advancement, it takes people to manufacture the infrastructure to support the growth.  This means jobs.  Richard McIntosh, a representative with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, says, “the Boilermakers in Canada have 36 lodges that all deal with carbon.  Using steel to manufacture equipment. Working in a mine. Working on the ships.”  This is something most people won’t consider but it is crucially important to the fabric of our society on every level.  CCS is the greatest facilitator into the future of high quality, high paying jobs that are often in rural and regional areas.  It’s part of what we call the new energy economy and it is a key growth opportunity for our country that will benefit us all.  “It’s a win, win, win for everyone,” says Cory Channon, also from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

The International CCS Knowledge Centre is playing a big part in the advancement of this technology. We have helped clean up the emissions from a coal-fired plant in a megatonne way.  Large-scale CCS is needed to tackle the reduction of greenhouse gases. First movers like the Boundary Dam project have proven the technology and are demonstrating the path for cost reduction. Thousands of plants are needed to meet global GHG goals.

Indeed, CCS is the bridge to a cleaner future. Please share this video, click here.