Carbon Sink Technology Boost for Alternative Energy?
According to climate scientists at the EuroScience Open Forum 2004 governments should be exploring the potential of Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) which could actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere and stabilise atmospheric concentrations of the gas at much lower levels.
NETs offer a means of cutting emissions using biomass from planted forests to produce energy and then capturing the CO2 produced, or alternatively extracting CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
Opponents of the technologies suggest such methods would be costly and that CO2 could still leak back into the environment, with unknown consequences.
Professor Christian Azar, of Goteborg University's Department of Physical Resource Theory is quoted by the BBC as saying "Governments are not looking at NETs because part of the cost of doing so will fall on certain industry sectors and they are powerful enough to protest."
In my opinion these industries should be made to cover the cost of their emissions. By making these industries pay for the economic externalities they create this raises the cost of generation from fossil fuels leading to greater economies of scale for alternative energy thus lowering their price below that of fossil fuels. What should be avoided is making the public foot the costs of these industries by subsidising them to clear up their mess.
The image above shows algae which acts as a carbon sink. Research is underway in Australia into the use of algae which is up to 100 times more effective than trees at sucking up CO2 and its high oil content may even allow petroleum products (such as plastics) to be made.