Carbon Bubble concept is a very interesting one, clearly supported by most climate hawks but somehow questioned too in other cases as: “Carbon Bubbles — Who’s Kidding Who?“. The concept is a translation from financial or housing bubbles. Bubbles are wonderful, the grow and grow until they explode, it is a very well-known concept in the south of Europe recently and in many other places along history.
So, what would be a carbon bubble? It is simple, even if the estimations of fossil fuel reserves are correct a great part of them should not be used if we do not want to enter in a really catastrophic climate change, so they should be useless and the companies that own them not so worthy.
Yet, this idea is not mainstream in any stock market or society and the oil or gas deposit continue to be considered as valuable as ever or more. This is a contradiction for many as climate change is widely recognized (even for oil companies) as a threat, the question is that most uf us in OCDE theoretically recognise climate change as a scientific fact but do not go further to consider it a vital challenge of our generation, and this is the problem. While this problem persists the carbon bubble will remain wandering harmless and several people will have to insist in the need of urgent action..
Sometimes the line between good and bad ones is not only subtle, it is also changing fast.
If the technology these news explain is succesful, we may find a good ally in this gas that is transforming our climate. The concept can be explained in a simple way, they extract the heat from the earth, at 800 m below the surface and use it to produce energy. This is not new, it is the geothermal energy, the funny issue in this case is that they do it in conventional thermal power stations using the output CO2 from the combustion as the thermal conducting fluid instead of, for example, water. This way, two benefits are obtained, in one hand some carbon sequestration (I do not know how much) and in the other additional power produced from the extracted heat.
The authors are confident with their results to the extent of making a spin-off from University and funding their own company. I have more doubts for some reasons:
- because I do not trust much carbon sequestration,
- because I do not understand the advantages it would have respect to other geothermal technologies and
- because the application seems a bit limited if they have to combine a thermal power station with an appropriate geological location.
In my opinion, the main advantage would come precisely from the possibility to harness the power of standard fossil fuel installations by avoiding much of their damage (I do not how much). We will see if these good intentions make good realities or are just too optimistic or too expensive. Sometimes, when we are too tied to something it is easy to lose perspective and favour those solutions that allow us to continue with the link; I suspect this is a constant temptation for us related to fossil fuel technologies.
In any case if it works and helps I will welcome it, whereas, for the moment, I prefer to bet in the already proven wind and solar industries, among others.
Finally, it is fair to mention that my information source was amazings.com