Year 1 Post-Doctoral Program (Start January 2020)
State of the art on the GHGs negative emissions
and their treatment on carbon markets
Project Type: Post-doctoral project proposed to the newly created Chair at IFP School
Duration: 18 months, starting on sept. 2019 (effective start January 2020)
Ideal profile for the candidate: PhD technology energy systems, carbon finance
Supervisor: Paula Coussy
The concept of negative emissions gained attention since its first inclusion in the 4th IPCC report. The ambition of the Paris climate agreement may already be unachievable without negative emissions and quite all modelling scenarios limiting global warming to 1.5°C rely on the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Some of the technologies designed as Negatives Emissions Technologies (NETs) are based on natural processes; some others rely on human engineering (BECCS, DACS). NETs are integrated into complex energy systems so it’s important to ensure that the total effect of all components is the permanent removal of atmospheric GHG and in the end a net decrease in the GHG concentration in the atmosphere.
A comprehensive and clear definition of when a negative emission occurs is unavoidable. Today negative emissions refer to a different concepts as removal (with storage) GHG, utilization of GHG in products and GHG avoided emissions. A clear distinction should be made between physical negative emissions and avoided (potential) reductions of one technology in comparison to another one. A clear consensus on the NETs is then necessary as these NETs have financial costs, environmental and social impacts and as they can be identified as carbon offsets on carbon markets.
Scope of work:
- How to define “Negative GHG Emissions”: The objective is to word on a methodology to assess whether “negative emissions” are really negative emissions in the global sense (physical negative net emissions). What could be the guidelines to define physical negative net emissions: at the global level, at the level of industrial actors, economic sectors (Energy, transport)? Define negative emissions and take into account the temporality of negative emissions (release of emissions in the case of consumption of GHG-based products)
- State of the art of the technologies allowing negative net emissions (NETs) (according to the methodology defined above). The work will first start to identify the existing technologies well known or closed to the market. Later on, the student could identify the technologies at research stage with a low TRL and then the NETs solutions "out of the box”.
- Estimation of their production costs: the capital expenditure and the operating costs of these near to the market NETs will be estimated and forecasted cost scenarios to 2050 provide.
- Classify all the natural and human engineering processes that allow negative net emissions: Identify the phenomena that "naturally" favour negative emissions at the global level (oceans, biodiversity, etc.). Identify human activities that could promote natural processes which increase negative net emissions like cultivation/soil management and increased storage of CO2/N2O in soils. And identify other NETs relying on human engineering such as capture and storage of CO2 from the combustion of biomass for energy (BECCS), or the chemical removal of CO2 directly from air and stored (DACs).
- What is the potential of these negative net emissions from natural processes and from human engineering at different geographical location(s) - according to the solutions found? What are the forecasts of potential negative emissions according to the world regions and taking into account their specificities? At what time horizon can these solutions emerge? What is the scale-up/deployment capacity of these technologies? In what proportions/volumes and at what rate do these solutions "remove" GHGs from the atmosphere in relation to the 2°C requirements? What is the complementarity between NETs and the availability of biomass resources?
- What opportunities for these negative emissions to participate in carbon offsetting: in particular in relation to the main admission criteria of existing Carbon Offset Labels (Gold Standard...etc). What could be the main Monitoring Reporting and Validation obligations of the different Carbon Labels (methodologies, additionality, risk...) for these NETs reductions? In line, an inventory of the different carbon offset markets and the associated demand of offsetting will be evaluated to put these new NETs in perspective of the carbon offsets markets. Which bidders - applicants for carbon offset credits?
- How these negative emissions are then calculated / evaluated / encouraged: Define objective and measurable criteria to assess the potential for negative net emissions:
- at the technological level,
- along the technological chain (if several technologies are associated)
in terms of the national inventory of GHG emissions (France, Europe, the world, etc.)?
- Consider positioning these negative emissions on an evaluation/relevance grid according to different criteria:
- Known/unknown technological bricks
- Economic / not at all economic
- Large/small scale deployment
- Ethical/unethical (sowing clouds...)