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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 11:27 PM

13. "Embrace nuclear energy, Alberta: it’s the only way to lower oilsands GHGs"

Embrace nuclear energy, Alberta: it’s the only way to lower oilsands GHGs
April 5, 2013
By Steve Aplin

Alberta is panicking right now, fearing the worst when the U.S. makes its next decision on the Keystone Pipeline. If the new American secretary of state’s recent legislative past is an indicator, Keystone, which will carry Alberta bitumen to the U.S. gulf coast, will receive extra attention on the question of whether the proposed pipeline fits with the president’s stated climate change goals. After all, the most recent U.S. senate effort to reduce emissions of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) was called the KGL Bill. The “K” stands for Kerry, as in John Kerry, who is now secretary of state. And the KGL Bill died an embarrassing death, in 2010. Will the new secretary of state use the Keystone issue to redress that failure, and help his boss keep an important—and so far unkept—environmental promise? Alberta worries he will.

Oil sands operation, Alberta Canada. This is Alberta’s
cash cow and hope for the future, but that future is bleak because
Alberta’s biggest customer, the United States of America, has
singled Alberta oil out as “dirty.” The only way Alberta can clean it
up is to use nuclear energy.

Alberta’s panic is underlined by the recent revelation that the province is considering upping its much touted and totally ineffectual $15 per ton “levy” on industrial CO2 to $40. This is the centrepiece of Alberta’s new climate goal: a 40 percent reduction in CO2.

Considering where most of Alberta’s CO2 emissions come from, a 40 percent reduction is huge. The two biggest category sources in Alberta’s official Greenhouse Gas inventory are power generation and the oil sands, which in 2008 emitted 55 million tons of CO2 and 41 million tons, respectively. (You can download Environment Canada’s National Inventory Report 1990-2008: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada here; Alberta-specific information is on p. 118, or p. 119 of the PDF).

Alberta has been trying, in a PR kind of way, to reduce CO2 from power generation, which the province thinks is easier technologically than from the oil sands. This effort has focused mostly on carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS. Not surprisingly it has been a flop. The chemistry of the process is difficult: it involves separating CO2 from nitrogen (Alberta’s power plants are mostly coal-fired, and all use air, which is mostly nitrogen, as the source of combustion oxygen). That separation is inefficient and expensive.

The only ongoing CCS ...


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