Blog

  • How much of our CO₂ budget is needed just to rebuild our energy system? [Spoiler alert: I’m not actually going to answer the title question above — not quantitatively at least. But I think there is some merit even just in drawing attention to the fact that there is a question here that can usefully be asked!]Early in the excellent book Our Renewable Future by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley (full text available online, open access), they present the following “big picture” perspective on the challenge of rapidly decarbonising our energy systems (locally and globally):[Original image source: Michael Carbajales-Dale, “Fueling the Energy Transition: The Net Energy Perspective,” presentation at the Global Climate and Energy Project Workshop on Net Energy Analysis, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, April 1, 2015.]Notwithstanding the notional quantitative ...
    Posted Aug 28, 2018, 4:04 AM by Barry McMullin
  • "Energy Trilemma" Considered Harmful The “energy trilemma” starts with the idea that there are three key interacting goals in any national energy system strategy or policy; while precise terminology varies, we will label them here as:Security (of supply)Cost (including effects on trade competitiveness)(Environmental) sustainability (including climate change mitigation)This is termed a “trilemma” to indicate that, to at least some extent, these three aspects are all in tension or conflict with each other, and pursuing any one in isolation may therefore limit or compromise delivery on the others. But all three are evidently desirable if not essential (as in motherhood and apple pie): therefore we must presumably strive to carefully balance policy interventions across all three “legs” or “pillars” of the ...
    Posted Aug 22, 2018, 3:44 AM by Barry McMullin
  • Green Plan Ireland and the Paris Agreement: A cumulative CO₂ assessment For the IE-NETS project we have been examining a number of user-friendly and/or open source energy system models that may be useful in informing policy in aligning climate action with the Paris Agreement and in indicating the possible need for carbon dioxide removal and a timeline for investing in negative emissions technologies to accomplish this. One such model is EnergyPLAN, developed and maintained by Aalborg University in Denmark, with which users can start by setting up a reference model matching the energy supply and demand infrastructure and parameters of a current energy system. From this, users can then develop a plausible sequence of scenario steps for a low carbon transition. The EnergyPLAN model focuses on achieving a ...
    Posted Aug 15, 2018, 3:31 AM by Barry McMullin
  • Looking forward to the International Conference on Negative CO₂ (and #BeyondFlying)... The first International Conference on Negative CO₂ Emissions will take place on May 24-26 2018 in Gothenburg, Sweden. As part of the ie-nets project team working on a (small) project to assess the potential for negative CO₂ emissions in Ireland, I’m delighted that we have had two abstracts accepted for presentation, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting and engaging with the emerging international community of researchers working on this critically important topic. And yet: I’m also torn. Dublin, where I live, and Gothenburg are 1240 km apart. My return flight would represent a combined GHG emission commitment of the order of 250-500 kgCOe. Trivial in a global sense: but if academic ...
    Posted May 18, 2018, 12:48 AM by Paul Price
  • Ireland’s domestic climate policy needs updating to include ten million tonnes of untargeted emissions The Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, provides Ireland’s most recent complete emission inventory data, up to 2015, published 2017 [pdf]. Comparing inventory emissions with Ireland’s core climate policy it becomes clear that about 10 million tonnes CO2e of Ireland’s emissions (on a GWP-100 equivalence basis) are not currently targeted by national policy, even though these emissions are accounted in EU targets – and do, of course, physically affect Earth’s climate system by adding to global warming. These ‘missing emissions’ are primarily from manufacturing, industry, waste and also ‘F-gases’ (used in refrigeration and air conditioning). In this blogpost, we discuss this issue and some possible implications for climate policy and policy analysis.Ireland’s ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2018, 12:15 AM by Paul Price
  • Upcoming International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions (and a "modest proposal"...) The IE-NETs project will be represented at the upcoming International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions, where we will give two short presentations on summary results from our recently completed Post-Paris Literature Review of Negative Emissions Technology, and Potential for Ireland. We're very much looking forward to meeting and engaging with the emerging community of NETs/CDR researchers at this first international conference dedicated to these topics. That said ... we're also keenly aware of the environmental (and especially climate) impact of our own activities. With that in mind, we have just offered a "modest suggestion" to the conference organisers, which we share here in case it is of wider interest. Even if the suggestion proves too late ...
    Posted Apr 12, 2018, 6:28 AM by Paul Price
  • IE-NETs is hiring! Post-doc position, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin Advert text:"This is a 9-month post-doctoral position on an EPA funded project entitled ‘Investigating the Potential for Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) in Ireland’. The work involves the use of crop growth modelling to create a productivity map of the energy crops, Miscanthus and willow in Ireland and using Life Cycle Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and techno-economic analysis of bioenergy production with a focus on the potential for BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage). The work will be undertaken in The Botany Department, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin under the supervision of Professor Mike Jones. For further details contact mike.jones@tcd.ie. Applications including a CV should also be sent to ...
    Posted Apr 12, 2018, 1:56 AM by Paul Price
  • Climate action or carbon debt? How quickly are different regions and nations committing to responsibility for substantial negative emissions? Or, to tacit mitigation failure?The Paris Agreement commits the signatory Parties (essentially all sovereign nations of the world) to aligning their actions with,“[h]olding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”    Article 2, Paris AgreementThanks to the strong climate science showing a direct, linear relation between cumulative total human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and resultant long-term global warming, a global ...
    Posted Mar 22, 2018, 9:42 AM by Paul Price
  • Where is the low carbon [sic] energy vision Ireland needs to mitigate climate change? The 2018 Spring Energy Policy Seminar of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum took place on Friday 9th March in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The NFLA "... lobbies for improvements in the provision of renewable energy across Ireland, the encouraging of Council-led decentralised energy schemes and provides information on the risks to Ireland from the UK's nuclear energy and waste programme, as well as promoting the support of moves for international multilateral nuclear disarmament. The All-Ireland Forum is part of the UK and Ireland NFLA organisation which has four national Forums and itsheadquarters in Manchester."I was invited to give a presentation at the event, with suggested title "Where is the low carbon energy vision ...
    Posted Mar 13, 2018, 4:17 AM by Paul Price
  • ie-nets team contributes to event by the Royal Irish Academy for the recent EASAC report on negative emissions The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) provide independent science advise for EU policymakers, based on the expertise of leading scientists in national academies from EU member states, Norway and Switzerland. On February 1st, EASAC released a report entitled ‘Negative emission technologies, What role in meeting Paris Agreement targets?’. The report was written by a group of senior scientists in the area, one of which was ie-nets team member, Prof. Mike Jones. The report found that Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) had ‘limited realistic potential’ and are unlikely to be delivered at the scale envisioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s scenarios. This has significant implications for the feasibility for Europe achieving nett emission reductions aligned ...
    Posted Mar 9, 2018, 2:04 AM by Paul Price
  • How to spend the dwindling global carbon “budget”? (and Ireland’s dwindling carbon quota share of it) Viable pathways to "well below 2ºC"?Due to continued high global greenhouse gas emissions it is becoming very difficult to show viable mitigation pathways to stay "well below 2ºC" of global warming without resorting to some serious commitment to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere using negative emissions technologies (NETs). This would, of course, be in addition to the imperative necessity of achieving sustained reductions of gross (“positive”) emissions. Allowing negative emissions in mitigation planning theoretically enables a slightly more gradual reduction in fossil fuel use but comes at a cost of added risks, including the risk that negative emissions technologies may fail to deliver at scale, as discussed in detail by Larkin et al. 2017 (open access). The ...
    Posted Jul 16, 2018, 6:19 AM by Paul Price
  • Document Release: A Post-Paris Literature Review of Negative Emissions Technology, and Potential for Ireland The main aim of the ie-nets project is to assess the scale and speed of negative emissions technology (NET) deployment that is required by currently envisaged decarbonisation pathways (globally and nationally), consistent with the Paris agreement goals. The first Work Package for this project is a preliminary review of the most relevant international and Irish literature. The output of this work is now freely available to download here. The review comprises of two main parts:Chapters 1-6: An overall review of international research specific to NET. Topics include climate policy, carbon budget management, strengths and challenges of various NET options, mitigation pathway modelling, risk assessment, governance;Chapters 7-9: A review and analysis of the most relevant Irish ...
    Posted Mar 13, 2018, 8:16 AM by Paul Price
  • IE-NETS Event at Engineers Ireland, Clyde Road, Dublin 6:30 PM Wed 6th Dec 2017 (Webcast Live) EPA Climate Change Research Project 2016-CCRP-MS.36: Dissemination Event Report UPDATE: Links to event video and slides now available! Presentation slides And video recording (via Engineers Ireland): The EPA Research Project Investigating the Potential for Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) in Ireland held a dissemination event at Engineers Ireland in Dublin on 6th December 2017 before a live audience at the Clyde Road venue and via webcast. Results were presented from a comprehensive review of NETs literature relevant to achieving future, additional atmospheric carbon dioxide removal at scale in Ireland, which could assist in reaching low-carbon transition targets aligned with Paris Agreement commitments. The presentation also detailed a preliminary assessment of Irish NETs potential and estimates of Ireland ...
    Posted Apr 18, 2018, 4:14 AM by Paul Price
  • Norway Backs Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Will others follow? In discussing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology deployment we ended our last blogpost by noting the uncertainties in scaling up to much larger flows than the roughly 1 MtCO2/yr level being achieved by the 15 industrial scale plants currently operating (two natural gas processing plants extract 7 and 8 MtCO2/yr for use in enhanced oil extraction). For companies, the business case for CCS is currently poor as it is expensive per tonne of CO₂ stored, relative to low carbon market prices, and the risks are not well understood, particularly in guaranteeing very long term CO₂ storage.  For governments, the political case is similarly difficult given public resistance to higher energy costs and civil society concerns ...
    Posted Aug 31, 2017, 2:48 AM by Paul Price
  • Challenges to CCS deployment Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) from flue gasses when burning fossil fuels or biomass/biofuel and compressing and transporting this CO₂ and injecting it into an underground geological storage site. This technology is heavily relied upon in most scenarios to achieve a target global warming limit of “well below 2°C” over pre-industrial, recently agreed to by 141 parties in the Paris agreement. Examples of working CCS facilities can be seen in Canada, Iceland and Norway. Successful large scale deployment of CCS could increase energy security, significantly reduce negative impacts of climate change and support the economy. Further, if combined with BioEnergy (so called “BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage” or ...
    Posted Aug 15, 2017, 6:33 AM by Paul Price
  • What Role for “Negative Emissions”? IE-NETs submission to the Irish Citizens’ Assembly The following is the on-line, plain-text summary of the IE-NETs Project Team submission as submitted to the Irish Citizens’ Assembly for its upcoming consideration of the question: How the State can make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change? The full submission is available to view here on our Documents page (and also from the IE-NETs resource page in  EPA SAFER-Data).How the State can make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change: What Role for “Negative Emissions”? Ireland and all nations agreed in Paris to act on “best available science” and “on the basis of equity” to urgently limit further emissions of greenhouse gases. The best available science tells us clearly that the climate ...
    Posted Aug 11, 2017, 4:47 AM by Paul Price
  • Will there be forestry offsets toward ‘carbon neutrality’ for Irish agriculture? Will there be forestry offsets toward ‘carbon neutrality’ for Irish agriculture?Carbon neutrality has come to the forefront of climate mitigation policy in Ireland, particularly following the Paris Agreement's reference that states: Article 4 In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of ...
    Posted Jan 15, 2018, 1:30 PM by Paul Price
  • Does Ireland need NETs? A centrepiece of Irish action on climate change is the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015. Under the terms of the Act, the Government is now required to prepare (and regularly update) a "National Mitigation Plan" which lays out the short, medium and long term pathway and policy actions for Ireland to "mitigate" its contribution to global climate change. In effect, this means a plan to reduce (or, better, eliminate completely) our collective emissions of greenhouse gases: especially carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). CO2 arises mainly from energy use (in electricity, transport and heating). Emissions of CH4 and N2O are primarily associated with our agricultural system ...
    Posted May 5, 2017, 8:04 AM by Paul Price
  • ie-nets full project proposal available online The full ie-nets project proposal, as approved for funding by the EPA  (grant award ref 2016-CCRP-MS.36, 5 December 2016) is now available on the ie-nets website. Here is a short extract, summarising the project motivation and objectives (please refer to the full proposal for the detailed reference list): Meinshausen et al. (2009) provides the key scientific foundation for inferring a fixed ["forever"] global carbon budget from a given target global temperature rise constraint. Under the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC 2015) the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have endorsed a collective global goal of keeping temperature rise “well below” +2°C over pre-industrial. However, almost all IPCC scenarios for achieving this ...
    Posted Apr 27, 2017, 1:55 PM by Paul Price
  • Climate Action to meet the Paris Agreement: How fast is fast? The definition of climate action has been vague until recently. Now though, the Paris Agreement, ratified by Ireland and the EU last year, together with ever-stronger climate science, are making the reality of the challenge much clearer. National and EU climate policy can now be updated to align actions with the science and equity research relating to the Paris temperature limits. Here we take a look at what that might mean with the help of a new article in the journal Science written by a team including some very well known climate scientists:A roadmap for rapid decarbonizationBy Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Joeri Rogelj, Malte Meinshausen, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Hans Joachim SchellnhuberScience 24 Mar 2017 : 1269-1271  DOI ...
    Posted Aug 11, 2017, 5:14 AM by Paul Price
  • Launch Event for the IE-NETS Project: Thursday 10am, 18th May 2017. Botany Building, Trinity College Dublin Post Event Update: A full video recording of the launch event (in three parts) is available on the IE-NETs YouTube Channel. You can also download audio recordings (mp3 format) and PDF versions of the presentation slides from the website Documents area.Original Event Announcement: At 10.30 am on the 18th May 2017 in the Botany Building, Trinity College Dublin we are holding the launch event for the IE-NETS project "Investigating the potential for Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) in Ireland" (registration, tea/coffee from 10.00am).  This 2-hour event discussing Paris Agreement decarbonisation pathways and negative emissions feasibility for Ireland will include a keynote presentation from Dr. Sabine Fuss, leader of the working group on ...
    Posted Oct 24, 2017, 2:04 AM by Paul Price
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