Path­way to zero, and be­yond

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER - David R. Baker is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: dbaker@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @DavidBak­erSF

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.”

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