Algae Used for Carbon Capture at Cement Plant

industry

Every year cement production contributes about 5% of the global emissions generated by humans. Any improvement around cement production will have a good impact on lowering carbon entering our atmosphere. In Sweden there’s one company using algae to lower its emissions. The country has carbon emission rates that are likely increasing in the next few years, which has inspired the cement company to figure out how to avoid paying more for producing the same amount of cement. Their solution: pumping the carbon output from their cement factory onto algae which then inhales all that delicious carbon, once the algae dies it becomes food.

It’s elegant: Take water from the Baltic Sea’s Kalmar Strait next to the plant, pump it about 100 meters (330 feet, about the length of a soccer field) into bags that can hold about 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of liquid. Add key nutrients to multiply the naturally occurring algae, and then let them soak in the gases piped to it from the cement plant (what would otherwise be the factory’s waste product) while the sun shines.

What’s more is the algae are rich in proteins and fats. After drying, they can be used as an additive for chicken- and fish-food. Heidelberg is in talks to sell the algae additives to major agricultural companies like Cargill. At its current size, the Algoland system in Degerhamn can only produce about a few kilograms of algae a day. But the plant has all it needs to scale up to make many metric tons of algae daily—light, water, fresh algae, and lots of space—and thus capture many metric tons of carbon dioxide in the process.

The science underlying Algoland is not novel, but what is new is how well it integrates the many parts entailed into an economically feasible carbon-capture plant. The used-up limestone quarry can provide the space; a greenhouse built on it ensures the right temperature and light is available even when the sun’s not shining; and the Baltic Sea is a source for both water and fresh algae.

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Large Corporations form the B Team to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

wind turbine
The B Team is a collection of some of the largest companies in the world who want to see the world be a better place. They have agreed to make their companies carbon neutral by 2050 and one company has already achieved that goal – Salesforce. The tech company changed the architecture of their cloud setup to lower energy consumption. They approached the challenge by reducing waste and consumption then they offset the rest of their carbon footprint by investing in sustainable energy solutions.

In 2015, 10 B Team companies made the commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – the timeline we need to be on to have the best chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees.

Today one of these companies – Salesforce – reached this milestone well ahead of schedule. It’s a powerful demonstration that not only is net zero possible, but it’s possible on an accelerated timeframe necessary to rapidly bend the curve on global emissions, and limit the worst impacts of climate change.

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The Trump Forest

Forest
There’s a new forest growing and it’s spreading over the entire world – and you can help spread it. Trump Forest is more of an idea than a physical place, but it’s all about the physical. President Trump’s ignorance around climate change is apparent and will have disastrous impacts on the planet. As a result of this some enterprising New Zealanders decided to grow resistance to Trump – literally. The idea is to plant as many trees as needed to counteract Trump’s ignorance.

Trump Forest’s tagline is “where ignorance grows trees.” The original plan was to plant a tree for every time President Trump said the words “climate change,” but it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t grow a forest: Trump has long refused to say the words, and, last week, the U.S. Department of Energy was barred from using the phrase “climate change,” along with “emissions reduction” and “Paris Agreement.”

Human civilization currently emits about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. To avoid extreme climate change, where the average global temperature would rise by 4°C, emissions need to be reduced to 22 gigatons (or 22 billion tons) by 2050.

Researchers at Oxford University estimate that, if pursued at scale, reforestation and afforestation could sequester as much as 5.5 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per year. So while planting trees is not enough to reverse climate change, it is a low-cost and effective act of resistance when coupled with other climate action efforts.

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Economy Continues to Grow Despite Decrease in Emissions

carbon output

Economists used to measure progress using emission rates correlated to GDP, now that comparison is ridiculous. A few years ago we looked at how carbon output is shrinking while economies grow and that is continuing to be the case. Earlier this year it was predicted that the global economy will continue to see a separation of economic progress and an increase in carbon output. This year it looks like we have been able to stall carbon output again (so now I’m hoping it will start going down).

What makes the three-year trend most remarkable is the fact that the global economy grew at more than 3% per year during this time. Previously, falling emissions were driven by stagnant or shrinking economies, such as during the global financial crisis of 2008.

Developed countries, together, showed a strong declining trend in emissions, cutting them by 1.7% in 2015. This decline was despite emissions growth of 1.4% in the European Union after more than a decade of declining emissions.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Canada to Phase Out Coal Power Plants

power plant
The Canadian government has decided to end the use of coal for electricity by the year 2030. To make up the lost production the provinces which still use coal will have to replace their power plants with sustainable alternatives. This makes a lot of sense since using coal for electricity is really (really really really) bad for the environment and, as regular readers of this site know, the cost of setting up renewable energy is getting cheaper every year.

Let’s hope that other countries follow suit and stop using coal to produce electricity.

In announcing the plan today, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said about 80 per cent of Canada’s electricity currently comes from clean sources such as hydroelectric power, nuclear, wind and solar. The goal is to make 90 per cent of electric power generation free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“This will help build a more sustainable future, and it is also a great economic opportunity,” she said during a news conference in Ottawa.

The plan accelerates the current timetable for the four provinces that still burn coal for electricity — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — to either capture carbon emissions, adopt technology or shut down the plants.

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