Why Carbon Capture Isn’t as Beneficial as Wind & Solar

Solar Policies & Laws
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Carbon Capture vs. Renewables

The short-term and long-term impact of climate change both taking place and predicted have been the cause of controversial opinions and arguments. For years the world has relied heavily on fossil fuels to power our lives, but this power generation method isn’t sustainable, and the shift in weather patterns has left many concerned.

The question is, what are we going to do about it. We have a choice. We can continue doing what we were doing and let the pieces fall where they may, or we can try to slow or reverse the damage we’ve done.

While many support renewable energy, these options aren’t perfect, which is why some feel that carbon capture either instead of or in addition to renewable energy is a better solution. Let’s take a look at both so you can decide for yourself.

The Arguments For and Against Carbon Capture

Carbon Capture and the Gradual Pull Back From Fossil Fuels

Carbon capture is the process of capturing excess carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel plants and depositing them in a place that prevents them from entering the atmosphere. If we plan to continue using fossil fuels, this is one way we could mitigate the carbon footprint of these resources.

Advocates for fossil fuels believe that this is a better solution than completely uprooting the energy sector and doing away with all fossil fuels. They believe this solution will allow communities to gradually shift away from fossil fuels or continue to use them without dire consequences.

Studies and Data That Suggest Carbon Capture Isn’t Worth Pursuing

Others believe that carbon capture is a waste of time, energy, and taxpayer money. They instead suggest turning towards renewable energy as a viable way to turn our planet around and provide a sustainable future.

Individuals and companies of this opinion argue that renewable energy costs have decreased significantly, making exploring carbon capture unprofitable. Mark Z. Jacobson at Standard University published a study about carbon capture. This study found that carbon capture only captures 10 -11 percent of the emissions the plant would have produced over 20 years.

Jacobson also took a look at the social costs. He stated, “Even if you have 100 percent capture from the capture equipment, it is still worse, from a social cost perspective, than replacing a coal or gas plant with a wind farm because carbon capture never reduces air pollution and always has a capture equipment cost. Wind replacing fossil fuels always reduces air pollution and never has a capture equipment cost.”

Renewable Energy and the Environmental Fight Against Climate Change

There are multiple renewable technologies at our fingertips. However, wind and solar power have gained the most traction. Discover what these technologies have to offer.

Carbon Footprint of Wind Turbines

According to a Yale Climate Connections article, the carbon footprint of wind turbines has extensive documentation. Depending on the placement of the wind turbine, it will produce between five and 26 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of produced power. Comparatively, natural gas power plants produce 437 to 758 grams, and Coal generates between 675 and 1,689 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity production.

Considering the Benefits of Solar Power

The Department of Energy’s solar futures study looks at three different decarbonization options. This report looks at solar as a source for electricity generation in the United States. It also looks at how best to implement companion technologies and policies so solar can meet all American needs.

One of the advantages of solar power is most of the United States has a fair amount of sunshine. This distribution of solar makes adding solar in conjunction with other renewable sources a viable option for the U.S.

Because solar panels are low maintenance and have a life expectancy of 25 plus years, this option would cost customers less over time instead of relying on the fluctuating price of fossil fuels to determine electricity rates.

The Power of Individuals and Their Commitment to a Better Future

While the cooperation of companies and governments makes a large impact, many individuals don’t feel connected to the commitment of these organizations. Putting all the pressure to fix the environment on these organizations allows many to not think about their contribution to the problem. Instead, they point fingers at everyone else.

If we want to preserve the beautiful planet we live on for future generations, it will take the commitment of individuals that care. Our everyday acts that are a little more conscientious of the long-term impact decrease carbon emissions, land field waste, and ocean pollution far more effectively.

This isn’t to say that large organizations shouldn’t do their part and governments shouldn’t put sustainable infrastructure into place. It is merely a reminder that each of us can also be doing something now to help preserve the earth.

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