Elon Musk Provides $100 Million for the Finest Carbon Seize Know-how – Watts Up With That?

Elon Musk Offers $100 Million for the Best Carbon Capture Technology – Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Remember all those assurances we’ve heard over the years, that carbon capture technology is ready for mainstream deployment? Turns out the technology is a little less ready to deploy than some people would like you to believe.

From Elon Musk;

Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2021

So what are the chances of someone collecting the prize?

Bloomberg thinks this moonshot can’t miss;

Elon Musk’s Moonshot Prize Can’t Miss

By Kyle Stock
January 24, 2021, 7:00 AM EST

Mr. Moonshot is at it again. 

Space and sedan baron Elon Musk pledged to donate a $100 million prize to what he deems the best carbon capture technology. The Tesla CEO wants to save the world of course and get a cheaper, cleaner feedstock to cook up fuel for his rockets. He also wants to bask in the glow of a little green Twitter buzz, which is often what these kinds of contests are best for. 

The so-called moonshot prize is a centuries-old tactic that falls somewhere on the spectrum between time-shrinking innovation catalyst and carnival barking. The difference is in the details. 

Musk says he will flesh out the details of the prize this week. If he really wants to move the needle, the money should be spread out and spaced out. Breaking it up into small chunks for early milestones will encourage long-shots and leaving it open-ended long enough will further incite the serious players. 

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-01-24/elon-musk-pledges-100-million-prize-to-crack-carbon-capture

Forbes reminds readers that there is no magic when it comes to the thermodynamics of sequestering CO2, though they suggest “billions of dollars from government” might overcome the economic obstacles;

$100 Million From Elon Musk Won’t Enable Carbon Capture

Brentan Alexander
Jan 24, 2021,08:10am EST

On Thursday, Elon Musk announced in under 140 characters his intention to donate $100 million to the “best” carbon capture technology, chosen through a competition whose details and judging criteria are yet to be announced (he promised further details next week). Funding for research and development of carbon capture technologies is most welcome, and Musk’s donation will surely lead to technological advances in the space. The problems, however, holding back the mass deployment of carbon capture are primarily economic, and a Silicon Valley mindset that champions disruptive innovation as the solution to all problems will fail to advance this important industry.

Carbon capture today looks a lot like solar technology 20 years ago, which was on the brink of growing at a rate over 500 times over the next two decades. Research and development money did not unlock the solar market at the turn of the century, rather it was the emergence of a viable business model driven by mandated renewable energy targets that allowed solar to rapidly expand and run down the cost curve, driving further growth. So too is carbon capture ready to make such a jump. Musk’s prize will surely help some firms further their technology and reduce their costs, but Silicon Valley solutions won’t create the market that unlocks carbon capture technologies. Instead, carbon capture is ready for its Wall Street moment: it will take the deployment of today’s technologies within today’s regulatory regime, supported by billions from governments, banks, and corporations, to demonstrate the business case for carbon capture and truly enable the space to scale.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentanalexander/2021/01/24/100-million-from-elon-musk-wont-enable-carbon-capture/

Perhaps we should thank Elon Musk for letting the mask slip, for giving us a glimpse of the true state of over hyped carbon capture technology.

Nobody has a scalable, affordable solution, thermodynamics suggests there may never be a scalable, affordable solution – that carbon capture if deployed would be an ongoing massive burden on the global economy. Yet most advocates keep up the pretence that carbon capture is ready to roll.


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