Models developed to explore how the world might limit future warming to the “well below 2C” target of the Paris Agreement on climate change typically employ large amounts of “negative emissions” later in the century. The majority of these “energy system” models employ a technology called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) at a massive scale. BECCS involves growing plants, absorbing CO2 in the process, then converting the resulting biomass into electricity. The carbon emissions are captured and buried underground, both removing CO2 the atmosphere and generating electricity at the same time. But the areas where large volumes of biomass can be grown and CO2 can be stored do not necessarily overlap. A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), examines the areas of the US that might fit both criteria – and whether BECCS can be implemented at the scale assumed in the energy models. The researchers find that there are enough suitable areas of the US to remove around 110m-120m tonnes (Mt) CO2 from the atmosphere by 2020 and 360-630MtCO2 by 2040. This is similar to what energy models assume will need to be deployed across the US in a world where warming is limited to well below 2C.
Carbon Brief 12th March 2018 read more »