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Navigating the future of sustainable technologies

An expert dialogue recently published in Omni Ekonomi examines the effectiveness of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies against alternative sustainable technologies. This discussion delves into the economic viability and environmental impact of these technologies, providing a nuanced view of the best investments for a sustainable future.

The CCS controversy
Proponents advocate for CCS as part of a comprehensive approach to emissions reduction, emphasizing its potential when combined with renewable energy sources and efficiency measures. Critics raise concerns about CCS's high energy requirements, potentially increasing emissions, and the reliability of long-term storage (i.e., whether gasses stay underground).

What do the experts say?

  • Joseph Monroe critically assesses CCS, noting CCS’s high energy demands and underground storage entail poor (and even negative) benefit-to-cost ratio. Joseph emphasizes the need to evaluate long term comparative advantages of alternative investments, advocating for fourth-generation nuclear power, hydropower, and onshore wind. 
  • Martin Söndergaard notes that carbon capture and storage is not currently the most cost-effective or scalable solution. He posits that alternative carbon offset methods might be more effective and scalable, provided there is appropriate market regulation to prevent fraud. For retail investors aiming for returns in green tech, he advises diversifying their investments, considering the unpredictable nature of technological success.
  • Researcher Lina Thomas emphasizes the importance of “a multi-faceted approach that includes CCS as part of a broader, integrated approach to reducing emissions.” Such a multi-faceted approach would include building more renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, and electrifying transportation. Additionally, she highlights the necessity of investments in reducing CO₂ emissions at the source and how investments in particularly copper, are crucial for the green transition.

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(From left to right: Dr. Joseph Monroe, Dr. Martin Söndergaard, and Dr. Lina Thomas)

Navigating sustainable technology investments
This discussion highlights the importance of a careful evaluation of each option's scalability, economic viability, and environmental impact. The discussion points out the significance of effective market regulation in maintaining the integrity of carbon offset methods. Additionally, the experts noted that other alternative technologies provide may provide far greater benefits, as well as the need to support copper production to support long-term sustainability transition.

Meet the researchers

  • Joseph Monroe, House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Martin Söndergaard, Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard University
  • Lina Thomas, recent Ph.D. graduate at Stockholm School of Economics and researcher at Harvard University
House of Innovation Sustainability News Publication