Pathway to zero, and beyond
Gov. Brown wants to eliminate California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, and then start removing CO2 from the air. RENEWABLE POWER To begin, California must add more renewable power. That means more solar plants and wind farms, but it could also include new technologies, such as floating offshore wind turbines. ENERGY STORAGE The state will also need ways to store that renewable power. Companies such as Tesla are already adding big batteries to the state’s power grid, and other technologies may work as well. FURTHER CUTS But California will also need to cut emissions from other sectors of the economy. They include agriculture and air travel, with airlines likely forced to use renewable, fossil-free jet fuel. After eliminating emissions, California must start removing additional CO2 from the atmosphere. Expanding forests can do that, slowly. Direct air capture facilities use a chemical reaction to trap CO2, which gets used in products like cement. It’s expensive. CarbonCure can add its technology to existing plants. In the Bay Area, Central Concrete Supply Co. has an agreement to use the technology in its plants.
“We represent a new industry of profit-driven, cleantech companies making use of CO2,” said CarbonCure CEO Robert Niven. “But we also represent existing industries that will need to adapt to this low-carbon future.”
Even if new industries arise to make use of excess greenhouse gases, Mulligan said carbon capture will probably require public funding and certainly needs public investment to perfect the technology and drive down the cost. He considers that investment worth it.
“This is really about creating options for society,” he said. “If we reach a point where climate impacts have just become intolerable, and we realize that we need to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in, this is something we know how to do, and it’s as cheap as possible so it doesn’t bankrupt us in the process.”