Electrical Sector GHG Reduction and the IMBECS Protocol by Marine BECCS
The Intergovermental Marine Bioenergy with Carbon Sequestration (IMBECS) Protocol Addresses Multiple GHG Issues via Carbon Negative Fuels.
Consideration should be given to converting over to carbon negative biofuels to reduce the electrical sectors' GHG emissions. The prominent peer reviewed paper in support of this view is:
- Antoine de Ramon N‘Yeurta, ,
- David P. Chynowethb, ,
- Mark E. Capronc, , ,
- Jim R. Stewartd, ,
- Mohammed A. Hasanc,
Obviously, due to the fuel volume used by the electrical sector, the sector can be a central actor in supporting both initial and on-going demand for carbon negative biofuel. Directly investing in MBECS operations, to secure long-term supply advantages for the industry, would be in-line with the core/profit interests of the industry.
From the global warming mitigation perspective, we need to produce and use as much carbon negative biofuels as possible for the next 10-20-30-100 years. A strong push for MBECS biofuels, by the electrical sector, would be transformative for the overall global warming issue and the electrical industry.
The issue of scalability (i.e. cost effectiveness/environmental issues) of MBECS operations can be extrapolated from existing on-shore (profitable) micro-algal operations and traditional macro-algal mariculture operations. Most importantly, the marine engineering aspects of the MBECS concept is well within the known/standard marine engineering sciences.
Marine based biomass production methods are, at this time, highly efficient/profitable and thus expansion of carbon negative fuel production, up to the needed global scale, is plausible (<20 yrs with robust industry funding support).
The industries' early support for initiating field level operations and intergovernmental/national level governance efforts would place the industry in a leadership role within what is, in essence, a new energy commodity market/industry in itself.
Category of the action
Reducing emissions from electric power sector.
What actions do you propose?
For a detailed background document on the full spectrum of aspects concerning the IMBECS Protocol proposal, please follow this link.
Synopses of Proposed Actions:
1) Establish the IMBECS Foundation Mission Statement and Board of Directors.
1.1) Mission Statement:
Crafting a comprehensive mission statement is the core immediate challenge. The mission statement will be the road map for the IMBECS Foundation and thus will be the primary tool for recruiting the IMBECS Foundations' founding pro tem Board of Directors, staff and outside supporters.
The lead paragraph of the mission statement should include language such as:
- The IMBECS Foundation mission is to support international cooperation in establishing carbon negative energy independence for all nations while providing scientific, technical and intergovernmental treaty support to all parties including the relevant for-profit industrial sector(s). This support would include the purchasing/leasing of relevant intellectual property rights and making such rights widely available through a franchise structure. Further, it is also the mission of the foundation to establish a World Heritage Natural Resource Reserve of fossil fuels through trading carbon negative fuels for fossil fuels as a form of intergenerational environmental protection.
Further guidance on the IMBECS Foundation mission statement can be found within the Department of Energy's Office of Bioenergy Technology (see below) while employing an international perspective.
The mission of the Office is to:
"Develop and transform our renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower through targeted research, development, and demonstration supported through public and private partnerships."
The goal of the Office is to develop commercially viable bioenergy and bioproduct technologies to:
- Enable sustainable, nationwide production of biofuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels, and can displace a share of petroleum-derived fuels to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
- Encourage the creation of a new domestic bioenergy and bioproduct industry.
The above language can be crafted to reflect the global need for energy independence and climate change mitigation. Additionally, the final draft of the mission statement should be the subject of a...brief...international debate so as to flush out any strong objections from the STEM, policy or civil society sectors.
1.2) Board of Directors:
The background of the founding directors will be a critical issue as, even though the technology is straight forward, the scale and long term mission of the IMBECS Protocol is unique and recruiting external support will be, initially, based upon the faith a supporter has in the founding directors' expert knowledge. Volunteers for the pro tem board are currently being recruited and nominations are welcomed.
2) Funding (also see Response to the MIT Climate CoLab Questions Sec.6.2, Funding pg. 5)
2.1) USG grant/loan guarantee programs:
There are a number of USG level funding programs for:
Energy Security through Renewable Energy Development
Climate Change Mitigation
One USG based loan guarantee program is presented, in brief, below.
From the Bioenergy Technologies Office: Multi-year Plan; "DOE Loan Guarantee Programs (LGP): The Office is actively engaged with LGP to support construction financing for first-of-a-kind IBR (intergrted bio-refinery, authors note) facilities. LGP provides loans and loan guarantees to a range of projects to spur further investments in advanced clean energy technologies through the reduction of technical risk in pioneering technologies.".
Currently, the USG has multiple paths for funding the initial technology development up to and including fuel purchase agreements of meaningful scale.
Additionally, there are multiple non-USG funding paths: Algae fuel funding programs.
2.2) Corporate Level Funding for Initial RDD&D – research, development, demonstration, and deployment :
The IMBECS Foundation can provide a for-profit organization(s) with the initial physical construction and trials of a modest sized gyre based tank farm. The cost of the trial would be deductible by the for-profit corporation(s), at the federal tax level, as such a trial would be consistent with the mission statement of the foundation.
(Side Note: The algal cultivation technologies are well establish. Thus, the biology will not be the focus of the initial development effort while the cultivation tank farm construction and operation will be the primary priority.)
3) The Value of the EPA to the IMBECS Protocol:
3.1) At the Intergovernmental Treaty Level:
Within the relevant working groups a nation/state party typically turns to their most relevant national agencies for guidance on technical issues. Thus, the relevant agencies play an important supportive role to their respective policy makers. At the treaty working group level (i.e. UNFCCC/IMO/CBD etc.), the EPA's evaluation of the MBECS technology and subsequent EPA promotion of such within the treaty working groups, could greatly encourage other treaty members to support an IMBECS Protocol like structure.
3.2) At the National Level:
The EPA has Congressional guidance on biofuel mandates through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (specifically, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)). However, the current real-world production limitations of biofuel restrict the mandated target volumes from being achieved. The MBECS technology offers the nation a pathway to meeting and or exceeding the current biofuel use targets.
The gyre based MBECS operations will be flagged as 'ships' and thus the EPA’s jurisdiction would be expanded out to the US flagged MBECS 'fleet'. Early EPA assistance in establishing environmental MBECS related standards would be critical to all US actors.
3.3) Brief Summation on the EPA Factor:
The involvement of the EPA, in the STEM evaluation of the technology, would help establish a high level of STEM consensus at both the national and the intergovernmental treaty levels, as well as, pave the way for increasing the national level biofuel use mandated by Congress through providing regulatory support for and guidance to MBECS like operations.
4) The Value of NOAA to the IMBECS Protocol:
4.1) International Scope:
The primary relevant program within NOAA is the International Research and Applications Project (IRAP) which attempts to "...support activities that link climate research and assessments to practical risk management, development and adaptation challenges in key regions throughout the world.". In the context of the IMBECS proposal, expansion of the IRAP mission/budget would be needed to a modest degree.
Beyond the IRAP program, NOAA can also provide in-depth relevant knowledge of the oceanic/atmospheric sciences which would provide the EPA/State Dept. with guidance in their evaluations of the potential impacts/benefits of the MBECS technology.
4.2) Development/Operational Assistance of the MBECS Technology:
NOAAs' unique level of knowledge and in-depth modeling abilities of the oceanic/atmospheric environments would be a robust assist in the development and operational guidance of the MBECS technology.
4.3) Summary of NOAAs' Relevance:
In brief, NOAA can be supportive of the State Dept./EPA's evaluation of the relevant MBECS STEM, as well as, play a key role in vetting the MBECS method(s) at the intergovernmental climate change governance decision making level while contributing to the advancement of the MBECS technology and production output.
5) The US Navy:
The USN Green Fleet program could potentially benefit substantially by establishing mid-oceanic biofuel production/ storage depots and thus providing substantial funding support for US flagged MBECS operational development, through pre-purchasing biofuel and providing developmental assistance at the STEM level, is justifiable.
6) The State Department:
Beyond supporting the IMBECS Protocol at the intergovernmental level as a stand alone initiative, the US negotiators can champion acceptance/funding of the IMBECS Protocol within the context of the UN Green Climate Fund.
7) The White House:
Under the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) the Administration has an ability to bring a strong focus to bio-energy and carbon sequestration (BECCS) in general and marine based BECCS (MBECS) in particular.
The IPCC (WG3) has recently recognized BECCS as a priority global warming mitigation method. The MBECS technology is scalable to global needs within a relative, and environmentally appropriate, short time frame (<20yrs). With 'fast track' support from the Executive Branch, significant real world achievements, in creating a new energy paradigm, can be realized within a few years.
8) Opposition Management:
8.1) Political/Economic Opposition:
The primary disruptive aspect of the IMBECS Protocol/Technology will be the uncoupling of energy importing nations from energy exporting nations as all nations will be able to achieve energy independence through operating their own IMBECS operations within the oceanic commons. This potential global energy paradigm shift can be accomplished, with the least amount of disruption, through encompassing the vested interests of the FF industry, at all levels, within the IMBECS strategy.
8.2) Bartering Biofuel for FFs:
The potential vast scale of IMBECS operations can absorb the entirety of the FF workforce and provide the energy market investors with an equivalent and sustainable alternative to investing in FF reserves/production.
This leaves the FF reserve owners as the only sector which would not be folded directly into the the IMBECS Protocol/Technology paradigm.
The MBECS non-fuel commodities profit potentials are so large that MBECS operations will eventually be developed regardless of the fuel issue. And, a (subsidized) <$30 bbl biofuel market is possible using partial profits from the non-biofuel MBECS commodities as the biofuel subsidy. Thus, the IMBECS Protocol has the potential to allow for the bartering of the carbon negative biofuel for FFs and do so in the reserve owners numerical (profit) favor.
Clearly, keeping FFs in the ground would be to the overwhelming advantage to the vast majority of the global population, as well as, to the planetary ecosystem. The FF reserves, that the IMBECS Protocol can potentially sequester in the ground, would represent a World Heritage Natural Resource Reserve for the generations that come after us.
8.3) STEM Opposition:
The use of the mid oceanic gyres (subtropical convergence zones) isolates the MBECS operations both spatially and, to a large degree, biologically. Using the gyres eliminates the vast majority of the environmental reasons for opposition. In fact, the gyres are warming at such a rate that the MBECS deployments' ability in providing passive surface cooling, over wide areas, can be viewed as an important secondary, yet critical, environmental benefit/reason for deploying MBECS like operations in those regions.
The scalability factor of the technology is no more complex than expanding bio-derived HDPE floating tank farms to the extent needed to replace FFs.
9) In brief summary, solving the volume issue within the algal biofuel industry can lead to a new global energy paradigm. The potential vast scale of MBECS production, under a transparent and equitable IMBECS Protocol like governance, would allow for a rapid and robust reversal of the global CO2 emissions trend as well as provide a number of critical non-fuel commodities.
Finally, using the oceanic gyres allows for the uncoupling of all energy importing nations from exporting nations as even land locked nations could operate their own IMBECS Franchise. The IMBECS Protocol is a true game changer for multiple globally important issues and needs.
Who will take these actions?
Concerning the IMBECS Foundation staffing/consulting needs, an international call would be put out for interested expert level parties in the areas of:
The above list is not exhaustive.
At the IMBECS Foundation organizational level, a number of international actors will be needed to fill a wide range of positions. The organizational chart below gives a basic view of the scope of positions which will need to be recruited.
Where will these actions be taken?
The North Pacific (Eastern Gyre) Subtropical Convergence Zone will be the initial site. All five gyres are, however, useful for MBECS operations.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
A prominent paper on the CO2 emission reduction of algal biofuels is below:
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been used widely to estimate the environmental implications of deploying algae-to-energy systems even though no full-scale facilities have yet to be built. Here, data from a pilot-scale facility using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is used to estimate the life cycle profiles at full scale. Three scenarios (lab-, pilot-, and full-scale) were defined to understand how development in the industry could impact its life cycle burdens. HTL-derived algae fuels were found to have lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum fuels.....".
The carbon negative factor, within the MBECS plan, represents a significant addition to the emission reduction/sequestration math found in the above study.
What are other key benefits?
- Oceanic/Atmospheric CO2 Store Reduction Through Large Scale Cultivation of Marine Biomass and Marine Biochar production
- Wide Area Surface Cooling of Thermally Critical Oceanic Regions
- Global Scale Production of Organic Food/Feed/Fertilizer/Polymers
- Vast Scale Production of Freshwater
- Creation of Mid-Oceanic Wildlife Preserves Supporting Biodiversity and the Protection of Endangered Marine Species
- Global Energy Independence Resulting in a Trans-generational Global Economic Stimulus
- Accommodations for Environmental/Economic Induced Migration; IMBECS Physical Operations Represent a New Form of 'Real Estate' (with jobs) Usable by Displaced Persons
- Establishes the First Intergovernmentally Governed Form of Global Carbon Management
- Reduces Pressure on Wild Catch Fisheries through Significant Expansion of Global Aquaculture
- Reduces Pressure on Food Crop Conversion to Fuel Crops
What are the proposal’s costs?
The IMBECS operations will be self funding through profits once they begin operations. An overall/maximum one time R&D funding level of $750M is proposed as a means to carry out:
1) Establishing the IMBECS Foundation and thus national and global governance administration;
2) Routine real world testing of the tank farm construction elements required for establishing engineering proof of concept ($30M);
Preparations for off shore deployment operations can start immediately as there are no governance issues regarding offshore mariculture.
The 1-5 year phase will be focused upon establishing the initial IMBECS operations and recruiting the first group of for-profit IMBECS Franchise holders. Establishing that the MBECS operations are profitable to the franchise holders is central to the IMBECS Protocol.
The scalability of the cultivation operations currently is one of the key questions concerning the IMBECS concept. Yet, once commercial level operations provide empirical financial data showing consistent/predictable retained earnings, expansion of operations, up to and beyond 1M km2, is plausible. In brief, this initial phase would be focused upon proving out the business model.
The 5-20 year phase will be a time of rapid expansion of cultivation/bio-refinery operations and environmental scientific observation.
The per km2/day bio-crude output estimate is 80 bbls/minimum and the rate of MBECS expansion can achieve 200 km2 per day. Thus, within 20 years, the daily bio-crude output can be as high as 80M bbls.. That level of production would approximately equal current global FF crude production. At that time, the FF era would be in a sharp decline phase.
Concerning the many possible and relevant scientific observations during this phase; although working in the oceanic gyres illuminates the vast majority of any biological environmental interaction (the gyres are oligotrophic), a great deal of basic science can be conducted utilizing the physical MBECS tank farms. One important scientific area, related to global warming mitigation and which the physical MBECS farms are uniquely suited for, is the exploration of the dynamics of wide area surface water cooling. Such investigations may prove useful in relationship to the study of the ENSO and Cyclogenesis.
The reduction of atmospheric CO2 may be observable at the end of this phase, yet oceanic CO2 reduction will take far longer.
2) US Government:
3) Global Plan:
The IMBECS Protocol is conceptually related to the work found in the following documents/links. This list is not exhaustive:
PodEnergy Ocean Agronomy development leaders and progenitor of this proposal.
NASAs’ OMEGA study.
Cool Planet; Land based and cellulose based version of a carbon negative biofuel concept.
Cellana; Leading developer of algae based bioproducts.