What Determines the Technological Options Policy Makers Have for Addressing Climate Change?

Date
Mar 19, 2021, 10:00 am10:00 am
Location
Virtual Event over Zoom
Speaker
Sponsors
  • Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
  • Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Audience
Princeton University students, researchers, and faculty. RSVP required
Event Description

Addressing climate change will require deployment of a variety of technologies and policies for achieving net-zero or net-negative carbon emissions. In this two-part event, Dr. Jeff Bielicki will explore various aspects of this challenge. The first part will be a seminar covering how we might couple geologic CO2 storage to geothermal energy production to simultaneously achieve two key climate goals. The second part will be an open roundtable for the community to discuss the interplay of policy and scientific forces that determine what technological options are ultimately available to policy makers for combatting climate change.

Dr. Jeffrey Bielicki

Non-Resident Fellow at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment; Associate Professor at The Ohio State University Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Register here

*There will be one link for both segments.
Please feel free to attend for either or both the seminar and the roundtable discussion.

Seminar – Enabling Renewable Energy Production by Using Carbon Dioxide

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Abstract:
Societies must slow, stop, and reverse the flow of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere in order to have a decent chance at averting the most concerning environmental, and thus economic and social, consequences of climate change. Accomplishing this formidable task is more challenging in the context of the need to still provide affordable energy for economies and well-being, which is often considered to be best sourced from renewable resources. Many analyses suggest that increase in the deployment and utilization of renewable energy capacity has to occur in tandem with the extraction of CO2 from exhaust streams and the air for permanent isolation from the atmosphere in deep subsurface aquifers. Recent work has shown that geologic CO2 storage can be leveraged to produce geothermal heat and even to provide grid-scale energy storage. This talk will present how climate-benign renewable energy can be produced and further enabled by emplacing CO2 in the subsurface, and highlight challenges and opportunities for coupling renewable energy production with CO2 emissions reductions and isolation from the atmosphere.

Roundtable – What Determines the Technological Options Policy Makers Have for Addressing Climate Change?

Time: 11:10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Discussion Framework:
There is international consensus that addressing climate change will require reducing CO2 emissions and deploying some amount of carbon capture and storage (CCS). In large measure, CCS has been advanced as an option based on scientific consensus, despite the lack of clear economic incentives. This example raises the question: how does the menu of technological options develop? What roles do government policies, scientific innovation, and markets play in creating and nurturing these options? Is it possible to better understand the interplay between these forces, and would such an understanding allow more rapid development of optimal technology? This roundtable will provide an open, informal format for interested members of the community to discuss these questions.

Two related cases in the development of negative emissions technologies (NETs) can serve as initial examples: bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC). BECCS was on the CCS research agenda in the early- to mid-2000s, but reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants took the lead as a policy priority. Recently, BECCS has resurged, in part, due to the IPCC’s use of integrated assessment models containing two separate options: bioenergy and CCS. On the other hand, the resurgence has been driven by market forces due to forecasted demand for liquid and gaseous fuels. Relative to BECCS, in the mid 2000’s DAC was a somewhat esoteric process,  intriguing but largely ignored due to high estimated costs of extracting low-abundance CO2 from the air. Despite its lack of popularity, a small community of people persisted in developing the technology to the point that it is now widely discussed, researched, and attracting federal funding. Thus, DAC was an “outsider” technology that fought its way onto the agenda. However, neither BECCS nor DAC presents strong market incentives, and a case for financial viability needs to be either created by policy or innovation. In light of this, how did these options arise, survive, and eventually gain traction? Are they doomed to fail if there is no intrinsic financial viability?  What can we learn from these examples about the viability of more extreme attempts to mitigate climate change, like solar radiation management?

Bio:
Dr. Jeffrey Bielicki is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and an associate professor at The Ohio State University where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He is also on the faculty of the Environmental Science Graduate Program. Bielicki serves as a research program lead for sustainable energy at Ohio State’s Sustainability Institute, where he sets strategic priorities for research and cultivates the university energy research community. His scholarship focuses on issues where energy and environmental systems and policy interact–primarily on topics related to carbon management, renewable energy, and the energy-water nexus. Bielicki has also held appointments as a visiting professor at ETH-Zurich, a research associate at the University of Minnesota, a Weinberg Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a fellow at the Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, and a research fellow with the Energy Technology Innovation Policy group at Harvard University. Prior to earning his Ph.D., he was a mechanical engineer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, developing devices and infrastructure for producing antiprotons. Bielicki holds a Ph.D. (2009) and an M.P.A. (2003) from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago (2000), and a B.S. from Valparaiso University (1996).

This seminar is co-sponsored by the Center for Policy Research for Energy and the Environment and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.