Carbon capture industry needs higher taxes to thrive: expert

Plus, solar is becoming the cheapest power on earth, and Trump moves ahead with Big Oil

Credit: Alana Paterson

Geoff Holmes, business development manager at Carbon Engineering, stands at the Squamish facility that collects CO2

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A controversial carbon-pricing plan that will charge companies $10 a tonne starting in 2018 was one of the federal government’s key environmental policies of 2016. The prime minister has indicated that he would like the tax to rise to $50 by 2022. But one of the methods of containing those gases, carbon capture and storage (CCS), has received little mention. While the technology is promising, low carbon taxes prevent the facilities from being economically viable, according to one industry expert. Tim Wiwchar, former project lead of Shell’s Quest CCS project near Edmonton, estimates that the tax needs to be at least $50 a tonne for these facilities to be economically sustainable. Carbon Engineering Ltd. in Squamish is one of four CCS facilities operating or under development in Canada. (CBC)

Since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent, with every part of the supply chain trimming costs. Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere. (Bloomberg)

Big Oil could be in a unique position to protect its interests against a Republican proposal to tax imports, given that president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet is studded with oil champions sensitive to the risk of higher gasoline prices. Trump’s emerging leadership includes Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive officer Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, former Texas governor Rick Perry as energy secretary and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Trump himself has made no secret of his support for the energy sector. (Reuters)