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As the major emitters convene, is China ready for an emissions targets? Part 1

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"As the major emitters convene, is China ready for an emissions targets? Part 1"

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Senior advisors to the Chinese leadership, such as climate change negotiator Su Wei, below, are openly suggesting that China consider “carbon intensity” targets.  Even as China aggressively pursues world leadership in key clean technologies like solar and wind, it has also announced plans to keep expanding coal use at a pace so rapacious it would single-handedly finish off the climate no matter what we and the other rich countries do. That is why for Obama to preserve a livable climate and be a great president, he must have a climate deal with China. In this post, Andrew Light and Nina Hachigian discuss the “Rise of the Green Dragon?

This week the Obama administration convenes a meeting of 17 of the world’s major economies in a forum on global warming outside of the ongoing U.N. climate change process. Though the history of this Major Economies Forum is somewhat tainted, it may well provide a useful opportunity to engage China on global warming. There are ample indications that China is ready for such an overture from the United States if not an outright proposal for action.

Obama’s Major Economies Forum builds on the legacy of the Bush administration’s earlier effort, which was designed as an alternative to the annual U. N. climate change talks that produced the Kyoto Protocol. The successor to that treaty, which will expire in 2012, is slated to be decided at the next U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen in December.

Bush’s effort was widely criticized for pushing an agenda of voluntary measures to combat global warming, as opposed to mandatory caps on emissions. Yet the former president’s push was also seen as an opportunity to pull the major carbon-emitting developing countries out of the voting bloc in which they are often embedded in the UNFCCC. This is the so-called “Group of 77,” which actually has 130 members””a group generally resistant to attempts to pick out members for bilateral or multilateral engagement.

Enticing direct negotiation with the major emitting developing nations””especially China””is critical to getting a global climate change agreement inside or outside of the UNFCCC process. Estimates are that China is surpassing the United States as the world’s number one carbon emitter. On its current trajectory China will double its emissions by 2020, effectively negating even some of the most aggressive emissions targets that might be adopted by the developed world, or as they are known in UNFCCC parlance, the “Annex 1″ countries, essentially developed, wealthy democracies.

In the Kyoto Protocol, however, China and the five other major emitters in the Group of 77″”India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico, the latter now a former member and in a special position””were not required to accept mandatory CO2 emissions caps. The main argument was essentially one of justice. Developing countries, such as those represented by the Group of 77, did not put the CO2 and CO2-equivalent gases in the atmosphere that are causing current increases in global temperatures. Limiting these greenhouse gases, it was argued, would hamstring these countries’ attempts to reduce poverty. Further, even at current rates of emissions, it will take China a long time until its total cumulative emissions match those of the United States.

Nonetheless, the exception for developing emitters in the Kyoto agreement was a key part of the objections to U.S. ratification as expressed in the now infamous 95-0 sense of the Senate vote in 1997 advising the Clinton administration not to even ask for approval of the treaty. It remains at the core of congressional objections to an international agreement on climate change.

In hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, Sen. James Webb (D-VA) spent most of his time questioning Todd Stern, the State Department Special Envoy for Climate Change, pressing for assurances that the Obama administration would not accept a new agreement that allowed China to get a free pass on emissions cuts again.

Unfortunately this has left us in a quandary””if not a quagmire””with respect to the UNFCCC process. The large voting blocs””Annex 1 (developed) versus non-Annex 1, primarily the Group of 77 (developing)””are enormously cumbersome entities that generally fail to offer disaggregation among the needs and capacities of different member states. We can see this most acutely among the Group of 77. China, South Africa, and Brazil have enormously different carbon profiles, both in terms of absolute emissions and technological capacity for mitigation, than Chad, Suriname, or the Bahamas.

The same holds true on the other side, where even with aggressive movement on domestic legislation, the United States will remain the largest per-capita emitter (currently four times that of China) for some time to come and hence a uniquely critical part of any solution. In addition, due to the sometimes impenetrable procedural rules involved in the UNFCCC, the United States has been able to participate in those meetings over the last 10 years and have a vote that effectively worked as a veto in the convention’s consensus process””even though the treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Congress. This venue for participation in the UNFCCC process was not always used responsibly by the last administration to say the least.

At the 2007 UNFCCC meeting in Indonesia, however, language was approved for the so-called Bali Action Plan””the document designed to set the broad aspirational parameters for the Copenhagen treaty that will succeed Kyoto. In this document an in-principle commitment was made for common but differentiated responsibilities from developing countries on global warming. In the language of the action plan, the participating states agreed to:

Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.

Essentially, if the Annex 1 countries agree to financial assistance, technology transfer, and development of global markets in clean-energy technologies, then developing countries””most importantly the major emitters among them””will hopefully agree to emissions targets as well.

And this brings us back to this week in Washington. By restarting the Major Economies Forum the Obama administration once again signaled its desire to seek as many possible opportunities to negotiate a set of agreements that could get us to a world of more fully shared responsibilities on climate change. Some may worry that the Major Economies Forum is an attempt to supplant the UNFCCC process and so is a threat to the historical integrity of that process in which most member states have been negotiating in good faith. Others see the Obama administration’s move as an opportunity to forge parts of the agreement suggested in the Bali Action Plan, which will be finalized in the final U.N. framework.

Whatever the outcome, the Major Economies Forum should be used as one forum among many, including the Group of 20 meetings, where the two most important carbon players, the United States and China, can speak directly outside of the negotiating blocs which have dominated the UNFCCC. On the carbon mitigation side at least, there are good reasons to believe that we do not need an agreement of all the nations of the world but can pave a road to a viable future with only a small group””such as the major emitters now represented in the MEF. If the United States and China led the way, others would likely follow.

Is China ready to talk? There are many indications that they are getting there, which again indicates that the Major Economies Forum process should be quickly ramped up in advance of the Copenhagen meeting rather than waiting for an outcome from it. Recent statements by top Chinese officials evince a new openness to adopting targets to reduce the rate of growth in carbon emissions. While that is a small step, it’s a significant one.

Just as important, it now looks like China will exceed its own goal of a 20-percent reduction in energy intensity in less time than planned. Already there are indications that China is experiencing multiplier effects in their economy where green investment begets more green outcomes leading to more investment. Senior advisors to the Chinese leadership, such as Tsinghua University professor Hu Angang and Chinese government climate change negotiator Su Wei are openly suggesting that China consider “carbon intensity” targets.

And, perhaps most dramatically, a recent report from HSBC Global Research demonstrates that China is ahead of the United States in terms of its own green stimulus package. It’s a much bemoaned talking point in these discussions that China has far surpassed U.S. capacity in solar cell production since 2005. More striking, though, is that Chinese leaders are “investing $12.6 million every hour to green their economy.” China is spending twice as much as we are in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on green jobs and a green recovery despite the relatively larger size of the U.S. economy.

It may be too early to look for a significant sea change, but there are a number of factors pushing China to a more proactive position. First, Washington is finally getting serious. “It’s not my problem” was a much easier stance for China to sustain when the Bush administration redacted reports about the costs and consequences of climate change and mucked about with an international treaty process while the world smoldered. With aggressive steps by the Obama administration””including the recent ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act””and legislation on a carbon cap-and-trade system now being debated in Congress, it is much harder for China to make excuses that they have no obligation to get serious until the United States gets serious.

Second, the Chinese see the potential for backlash in trade if they don’t commit soon to some carbon abatement. The United States imported $337.8 billion in Chinese goods in 2008 and Chinese leaders have already expressed concern that the carrot of technology development assistance may be concealing a stick of border adjustments if they refuse to accept some kind of emission caps. Earlier this week, Chen Deming, China’s Minister of Commerce, suggested in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that both countries should “safeguard the environment for trade” by refraining from “formulating any new trade protection policies before the end of 2010.”

Is this a shout toward current discussions in Congress? No doubt. Some provisions for protecting specific industrial sectors have already been included in the current cap-and-trade bill now before the U.S. House of Representatives, and we expect to see more discussion of these instruments as legislation moves through the U.S. Senate.

Third, the Obama administration has placed energy and climate at the center of U.S.-China relations, a strategy recommended by the Center for American Progress in a report from last year titled “A Global Imperative: A Progressive Approach to U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century.” When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Beijing on her first overseas visit earlier this year, she made it clear that the United States now viewed cooperation on energy and the environment as a key priority for the bilateral relationship.

Fourth, the climate, both physical and political, is getting hotter in China as well. In January 2008, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was held in Beijing, a megacity that is already severely swept by dust storms from western and northern regions every year. Shrinking glaciers are starting to cause serious water problems and more intensive damage in the country’s mountainous regions””problems that will soon stress the country’s capacity for short-term mitigation. Just as in the United States, the consequences of climate change are increasingly felt immediately and understood through direct observation rather than being confined to climate modeling.

Popular unrest in response to environmental changes is also on the rise, with increased organized opposition to everything from the construction of chemical plants to river dams. A Chinese equivalent to laws in the United States that ensure citizen participation in environmental impact assessments will continue to provide raw material for this resistance movement.

Finally, when the international community convenes later this year in Copenhagen to negotiate a new climate change treaty, it will include adaptation provisions that will require a larger global commitment. Only working together can we hope to save those in the poorest countries who will suffer first from the ravages of global warming. With the Obama administration now officially off the fence on climate change, the Copenhagen negotiations now stand squarely in front of China’s path to “great powerdom.” Great powers of tomorrow are saddled with responsibility to attend to their time’s great threats to humanity, or risk losing the diplomatic capital they’ve worked so hard to amass.

The shifts we see in Beijing’s position could open up a much more constructive negotiating dynamic in the lead up to the Copenhagen meeting. A more positive give and take could begin this week with the opportunity the Obama Administration has created with the MEF. In Todd Stern’s testimony earlier this month he made it clear that the first priority for the United States in these meetings will be to push along the conversation on technology transfer as a key component of acceptance of emissions caps by the developing major emitters.

In a recent visit to Washington, Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman of the National Development Reform Commission, reiterated that China’s commitment to accepting nationally appropriate reduction goals depends on receiving technology assistance. So here’s one recommendation, building on remarks by CAP president John D, Podesta at the beginning of April of the sort of project that could be pursued through the Major Economies Forum, or in other opportunities for one on one negotiations with China””a joint clean-coal project.

Both China and the United States share an abundance of coal, a locked-in capacity for energy production from burning coal, a huge fleet of coal-fired power plants, and a need to demonstrate capacity for transformation of this infrastructure with carbon capture-and-storage technology. Given this common framework, a joint carbon capture-and-storage research project sited in China with $500 million in financing from the United States and $500 million from China, would be a good place to start.

These funds could be used either to set up a joint research facility””similar to Australia’s Global CCS Initiative to which that country has committed $100 million per year towards operation””or a joint demonstration project. All technology produced from such a project would be free and unbound by patent protection and, perhaps, could be made available beyond the confines of this partnership to the broader international community.

Given current interest in China in carbon-capture and sequestration technology technology, $1 billion in funding should be sufficient to build a 150-to-200 megawatt demonstration plant. At the moment a 600-megawatt plant is in the works in the United States, which will cost approximately $3 billion. But with the possibility of cost savings, other sources of co-funding, and the profile of China’s regulatory process, $1 billion may be sufficient to build such a plant in China. In addition to the value that could be generated for demonstrating capacity for carbon capture-and-storage technology in China by such a facility, it would also advance the G-8 agenda, agreed to last July, to deploy 20 fully integrated industrial-scale demonstration projects for this kind of technology by 2020.

Of course, one problem with such a project is that full replacement of existing coal-fired power plants with newer, more efficient plants with CCS capacity will involve a long, expensive process necessitating “”in the United States at least”” the capacity for building some 30 power plants per year from 2020 to 2050. Another option for this proposed $1 billion in co-funding would be moving along research in the retrofit of existing coal-fired plants with CCS capacity. Such technology is not as far along in development, and given the difficulty in transforming the energy capacity of heavily coal dependent and less affluent countries””such as Poland””development of such technology could potentially do more good in a shorter amount of time.

We would hesitate, though, to propose such a fund and then orient it only toward building capacity for one technology. If such funds could be better used to expand China’s existing solar thermal program, which we estimate could be increased to a 500-to-750 megawatt facility with $1 billion in funding, or to investigate another technology of more interest to China for which an infusion of directed basic research from the United States could be more of use, then that should be on the table as well.

The point is that joint technological capacity building may be the best road to a new global energy future and help to stimulate the set of climate change agreements which will move us there. Such proposals should be discussed now and followed up at the next Major Economies Forum this July in Maddalena, Italy following the G-8 meeting.

The official Chinese position on climate change remains””you broke it, you fix it. But a creative nudge on the U.S.’s part and a subtle shift in Beijing’s position could open up some real movement in the diplomatic lead up to global climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen.

Nina Hachigian and Andrew Light are Senior Fellows at the Center for American Progress.  This post was originally published by CAP here. To read more about CAP’s energy and environment policy proposals and our China recommendations, please go to the national security and energy and environment pages of our web site.

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10 Responses to As the major emitters convene, is China ready for an emissions targets? Part 1

  1. quakergardener says:

    Thanks for posting this excellent analysis and discussion.

  2. Robert says:

    I just don’t how anyone can maintain any sense of optimism in what is such a fundamentally impossible problem.

  3. paulm says:

    China is on the forefront of climate change impacts.

    They will soon get it.

  4. Post-combustion CO2 capture out of hot and dirty flue gas is the immediate problem faced by China and the rest of the world. IGCC schemes to replace pulverized coal plants cannot be deployed in time (20 years) to make a difference. Alternative energy (wind and solar) are presently a very tiny fraction of power demand, and they are too intermittent to be baseload. So China is stuck with coal to meet its accelerating need for electricity and move to a future with electric cars.

    Here is a flue gas scrubber which mechanically captures CO2 by stripping the N2 and H2O, in a continuous and scalable device. It also scrubs the PM<2.5 fly ash. The key is organized turbulence. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2009/0013867.pdf

  5. ecostew says:

    One must not forget China’s per capita carbon footprint vs ours (ours one of the most AGW GHG emission intensive and an order of magnitude more than China’s).

  6. Charlie says:

    Good summary of where things stand. I would read the tea leaves provided by Hu Angang’s and Su Wei’s statements slightly differently, but reading tea leaves is an art, not a science, so its is always good to get as many perspectives as possible.

    The suggestion for collaborative efforts between the US and China with respect to CCS projects was the hallmark of the Asia Society/Pew Center on Global Climate Change’s Climate Roadmap issued in January and the US-China Clean Energy Forum is actively working on promoting a joint project involving CCS with China. Shenhua Group, China’s largest coal miner, is currently working on research and development of China’s first CCS project at its coal-to-liquids plant in Inner Mongolia. It seems that a consensus is forming around cooperation in this area.

    Two nits: First, can we please dispense with any more references to the “fact” that China is “investing $12.6 million every hour to green their economy”? It a demonstrably false proposition. Only a small fraction of China’s stimulus spending is being spent “on green jobs and a green recovery.” China’s own press pegs the “green” percentage at only 10% of the total stimulus package, and the bulk of that spending is for wastewater treatment plants–absolutely necessary, but not exactly at the cutting green edge. If anything, China’s stimulus spending has had negative environmental consequences in the short term as a result of heavy infrastructure construction and rushed or non-existent Environmental Impact Assessment approvals and the lack of associated environmental mitigation measures.

    Second. when speaking of concentrated solar can we use Joe’s term of “baseload solar” or stick with “concentrated solar.” When I see the term “solar thermal,” particularly in relation to China, I automatically think of the ubiquitous rooftop solar water heaters here.

  7. Tan Copsey says:

    If anyone would like to read the original Hu Angang essay referred to in this article chinadialogue published it here (happy to email a pdf of all three parts to interested parties) – http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/2892
    Also a recent video interview with Su Wei is here – http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/2731-Time-to-step-up-1-

    Finally, and sorry for the promotional blitz but it is relevant, chinadialogue’s bali to copenhagen project is a good way to keep in touch with the latest on the global negotiations with a heavy emphasis on Chinese engagement – http://www.chinadialogue.net/debate/show/6-Bali-to-Copenhagen

  8. Fred Heutte says:

    “In addition, due to the sometimes impenetrable procedural rules involved in the UNFCCC, the United States has been able to participate in those meetings over the last 10 years and have a vote that effectively worked as a veto in the convention’s consensus process—even though the treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Congress.”

    This is at least unclear, if not inaccurate, so let’s review the situation. The US is a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by the first President Bush and ratified by Congress in the fall of 1992. The Framework Convention is binding, permanent, and a treaty. A total of 192 countries have currently ratified the UNFCCC.

    Likewise, the Kyoto Protocol is a binding, permanent, treaty extension to the Convention. The US signed but did not ratify under President Clinton, and the second President Bush withdrew the US signature in 2001. In all, 183 countries and the EEC have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

    The convention-protocol dual structure is often used in international treaties, most successfully in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the related Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

    Unless the Kyoto Protocol is formally terminated, it will continue by that name past 2012, regardless of all the press coverage and comments claiming that “Kyoto ends in 2012.” It does not. The first commitment period for Annex B countries runs from 2008 to the end of 2012. However, it has always been assumed that second and subsequent commitment periods will be adopted. Further, there are a great many other provisions of the Kyoto Protocol including the “flexibility mechanisms” (emissions trading and Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation for “economies in transition”), national reporting, collaborative research and various kinds of review mechanisms that are permanent features of the permanent, binding Kyoto Protocol.

    Kyoto will only “end” if it is formally sunsetted. Mostly likely, another Protocol would replace it and retain most of its features as well as add essential new components. Effectively then, the Kyoto Protocol will not end in 2012, even if it continues under a different name.

    The Bali Action Plan was adopted in December 2007 as a decision of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC. It lays out principles and the process for adoption of an extended global climate deal at the COP in Copenhagen in December 2009. Proposals have been made to expand the Kyoto Protocol, add a new Protocol side by side, or end the Kyoto Protocol, copy much of its structure and put it into a single new Protocol.

    The Bali Action Plan is designed to further the purposes of the UNFCCC and does not create new provisions (which would require a treaty amendment). The language calling for “nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner” arises from several provisions in the Framework Convention. Therefore, this provision and all other parts of the Bali Action Plan is binding upon the United States as well as all other signatories to the UNFCCC.

    Finally, to learn what the current views of China are about the Copenhagen deal, please read their filing, “China’s Submission on Elements to be Included in the Draft Negotiating Text of LCA.”

    http://unfccc.int/files/kyoto_protocol/application/pdf/china240409b.pdf

    The full name of the LCA is the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, the forum in the UNFCCC to discuss the overall shape of the global deal. Since it is a function of the UNFCCC, the US is a full participant, and how the US and China interact within the context of the LCA is crucial to achieving success in Copenhagen.

  9. Leland Palmer says:

    China needs to convert its power plants to oxyfuel combustion, biocarbon fuel, and deep injection of the resulting nearly pure stream of CO2. This would transform them into carbon negative power plants, and transform the world’s largest source of CO2 into the world’s largest manmade carbon sink.

    Oxyfuel combustion is a form of CO2 capture in which coal (or biomass, or biocarbon) is burned in oxygen, rather than air. The efficiency penalty for oxyfuel has been 11 percent or so, until recently.

    Recently, Jupiter Oxygen Corporation and the National Energy Technology Lab have conducted tests, now completed, in which the higher temperature capabilities of oxyfuel combustion were exploited to decrease fuel usage by almost 7 percent. They did this by running the boiler on oxygen combustion, without exhaust gas recirculation, resulting in temperatures of something like 5000 degrees F, rather than about 3000 degrees F for air combustion. Because of inherent properties of the oxyfuel flame, there was no apparent damage to the boiler.

    Jupiter Oxygen/ NETL update January 2009:

    Measurements in the test boiler with untempered, high flame temperature oxy-fuel combustion have shown that the efficiency of heat transfer from fuel to steam increased by 6.4% compared to air firing. This resulted in a 6.7% reduction in fuel usage, consistent with the expected range of gains based on past testing and modeling. Although this fuel savings does not include the fuel required to meet the parasitic power loads for oxygen production and carbon capture, research to date suggests that heat recovery from the oxygen plant and Integrated Pollutant Removal compressors will allow Jupiter’s approach to attain significant fuel savings compared to other oxyfuel approaches.

    It is quite possible to also recover heat from the oxygen plant and from the compressors, and if that was done it appears that the efficiency of untempered oxyfuel combustion could be brought close to that of air combustion – effectively providing free CCS, from an efficiency point of view.

    This is a retrofitted existing coal fired power plant. Existing coal fired power plants, both in the U.S. and in China, could apparently be easily retrofitted for this technology. New oxyfuel boilers could be smaller than existing boilers, but the old ones can also apparently work more efficiently when converted to oxyfuel combustion.

    China should simultaneously start harvesting all available sources of biomass, and mass replanting efforts. This biomass can be carbonized into charcoal, and the charcoal compressed into biocarbon pellets. These compressed charcoal pellets are known as biocarbon.

    China already has plans to produce 50 million tons per year of charcoal briquettes. This should be drastically increased, IMO, and coupled with massive replanting efforts. China has identified something like 500 million tons of biomass “waste” that could be transformed into about 125 million tons of biocarbon. Once this biomass is transformed into biocarbon, it becomes as transportable and energy dense as coal.

    Biocarbon makes biomass as transportable as coal.

    North of China, in Siberia, huge wildfires are burning the Siberian forests. South of them, in Malaysia and Indochina, forests are also burning. Biomass could be harvested from these forests, at the same time thinning them and cutting firebreaks through them, and replanting deforested areas. Biomass from this operation could then be carbonized into biocarbon, and shiploads of it sold to China. Supertankers for oil currently are as large as 500,000 tons. Suppose 200,000 tons of biocarbon were transferred from per shipload. Twelve thousand five hundred shiploads per year from Siberia and Indochina would equal 2.5 billion tons of biocarbon.

    Entirely replace all of China’s coal with imported biocarbon, and deep inject the CO2. This would transform China’s coal fired power plants to carbon negative biocarbon/CCS, and change the world’s biggest source of CO2 into the world’s largest operation to remove billions of tons of carbon per year from the atmosphere and biosphere, and store it underground.

    Read and Lermit, 2003, on carbon negative energy:

    http://www.etsap.org/worksh_6_2003/2003P_read.pdf

    Abrupt Climate Change (ACC – NAS, 2001) is an issue that ‘haunts the climate change problem’
    (IPCC, 2001) but has been neglected by policy makers up to now, maybe for want of practicable
    measures for effective response, save for risky geo-engineering. A portfolio of Bio-Energy with
    Carbon Storage (BECS) technologies, yielding negative emissions energy, may be seen as benign, low
    risk, geo-engineering that is the key to being prepared for ACC.

    Carbon credits could potentially make this into an economically profitable operation, IMO.

  10. Leland Palmer says:

    Other technologies that might help transport large amounts of biocarbon from China’s periphery, Southeast Asia and Siberia, are coal log pipelines,carbon monoxide pipelines, and railroads. These short range technologies could also act as local feeder lines to ports for biocarbon transport by ship, and as local distribution networks from ports to existing coal and natural gas power plants.

    Coal log pipelines applied to biocarbon would take biocarbon and compress it into logs, which are cylinders with a length approximately twice their diameter. These biocarbon logs could be coated with something like a hard pure activated carbon coating, if necessary, perhaps. These biocarbon logs would then be transmitted by pipeline:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy00osti/26740.pdf

    A new technology created at the Capsule Pipeline Research Center at the University of Missouri uses less energy and costs less than current technology coal slurry pipelines. The new technology compresses coal or other materials, such as agricultural products or biomass, into cylinders (called logs or capsules) 5% to 10% thinner than the transportation pipeline. Water suspends and moves the logs through the pipe. In addition to being more cost effective, the capsule pipeline is also more environmentally sound than conventional transportation since the coal logs eliminate coal dust erosion of the pipe interior and erosion of coal fines by rain at the power plant storage site.

    Another technology that might allow transmission of biomass energy long distances are carbon monoxide pipelines. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, and should probably be transmitted in double walled pipelines or pipelines over-engineered with large safety factors and studded with leak sensors. A process called COSORB is available to absorb carbon monoxide from gas streams. A fairly well worked out pumping scheme exists, and shows that carbon monoxide can be pumped 400 miles, for example, with pumping losses of less than 15 percent of the energy contained.

    Advantages of carbon monoxide as an energy transmission medium are mainly that it is not hydrogen, and can be transmitted in ordinary steel pipelines without worries about hydrogen embrittlement.

    Once at the destination, the carbon monoxide could be transformed into CO2 and hydrogen using the water gas shift reaction. The resulting gas stream could be burned by oxyfuel combustion, the water vapor combustion product removed by condensation, and the resulting pure stream of CO2 compressed for deep injection.