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Pitch

Moving the entire industrial sector over to carbon negitive fuel can be largely achieved within 20 years. This proposal offers one path.


Description

Summary

All forms of fossil fuels can be replaced with a relevant bio-equivalent which negates the need for new energy distribution networks. That one advantage opens up all industries to the possibility of converting over to carbon negative biofuels.

Yet, meeting the vast demand, at the both the volume and price level, presents challenges at multiple levels. One initial approach to facing such multifaceted challenges is to utilize the vast supply of raw nutrients found within the oceans. With that vast renewable resource, marine biomass production, and thus carbon negative biofuel, can potentially overtake FF extraction volumes and do so at a competitive price.

Once marine carbon negative biofuels come on line, the current fossil fuel distribution network would be assimilated by the biofuel operation. Additionally, large scale production of carbon negative biofuel opens up the possibility of driving the price of FFs to a <$30 bbl level. The long term global economic stimulus, which low cost (subsidized) biofuel can produce, would offer obvious benefits to the industrial sector. 

For a more detailed review of this concept, please see the Intergovernmental Marine Bio-Energy and Carbon Sequestration (IMBECS) Protocol Draft.


What actions do you propose?

For a detailed background document on the full spectrum of aspects concerning the IMBECS Protocol proposal, please follow this link

Synopses of Proposed Actions: 

1) Establish the IMBECS Foundation Mission Statement and Board of Directors. 

1.1) Mission Statement: 

Crafting a comprehensive mission statement is the core immediate challenge. The mission statement will be the road map for the IMBECS Foundation and thus will be the primary tool for recruiting the IMBECS Foundations' founding pro tem Board of Directors, staff and outside supporters. 

The lead paragraph of the mission statement should include language such as: 

  • The IMBECS Foundation mission is to support international cooperation in establishing carbon negative energy independence for all nations while providing scientific, technical and intergovernmental treaty support to all parties including the relevant for-profit industrial sector(s). This support would include the purchasing/leasing of relevant intellectual property rights and making such rights widely available through a franchise structure. Further, it is also the mission of the foundation to establish a World Heritage Natural Resource Reserve of fossil fuels through trading carbon negative bio-fuels for fossil fuels as a form of intergenerational environmental protection.

 

Further guidance on the IMBECS Foundation mission statement can be found within the Department of Energy's Office of Bioenergy Technology (see below) while employing an international perspective.

The mission of the Office is to:

"Develop and transform our renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower through targeted research, development, and demonstration supported through public and private partnerships."

The goal of the Office is to develop commercially viable bioenergy and bioproduct technologies to: 

  • Enable sustainable, nationwide production of biofuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels, and can displace a share of petroleum-derived fuels to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
  • Encourage the creation of a new domestic bioenergy and bioproduct industry.

 

The above language can be crafted to reflect the global need for energy independence and climate change mitigation. Additionally, the final draft of the mission statement should be the subject of a...brief...international debate so as to flush out any strong objections from the STEM, policy or civil society sectors.

1.2) Board of Directors: 

The background of the founding directors will be a critical issue as, even though the technology is straight forward, the scale and long term mission of the IMBECS Protocol is unique and recruiting external support will be, initially, based upon the faith a supporter has in the founding directors' expert knowledge. Volunteers for the pro tem board are currently being recruited and nominations are welcomed. 

2) Funding (also see Response to the MIT Climate CoLab Questions Sec.6.2, Funding pg. 5)

2.1) USG grant/loan guarantee programs:

There are a number of USG level funding programs for:

  • Energy Security through Renewable Energy Development

  • Climate Change Mitigation

  • Scientific Investigation

  • Economic Expansion

  • Food/Water Security

One USG based loan guarantee program is presented, in brief, below.

From the Bioenergy Technologies Office: Multi-year Plan"DOE Loan Guarantee Programs (LGP): The Office is actively engaged with LGP to support construction financing for first-of-a-kind IBR (intergrted bio-refinery, authors note) facilities. LGP provides loans and loan guarantees to a range of projects to spur further investments in advanced clean energy technologies through the reduction of technical risk in pioneering technologies.". 

Currently, the USG has multiple paths for funding the initial technology development up to and including fuel purchase agreements of meaningful scale.

Additionally, there are multiple non-USG funding paths: Algae fuel funding programs.

2.2) Corporate Level Funding for Initial RDD&D – research, development, demonstration, and deployment :

The IMBECS Foundation can provide a for-profit organization(s) with the initial physical construction and trials of a modest sized gyre based tank farm. The cost of the trial would be deductible by the for-profit corporation(s), at the federal tax level, as such a trial would be consistent with the mission statement of the foundation.

(Side Note: The algal cultivation technologies are well establish. Thus, the biology will not be the focus of the initial development effort while the cultivation tank farm construction and operation will be the primary priority.)

3) The Value of the EPA to the IMBECS Protocol:

3.1) At the Intergovernmental Treaty Level:

Within the relevant working groups a nation/state party typically turns to their most relevant national agencies for guidance on technical issues. Thus, the relevant agencies play an important supportive role to their respective policy makers. At the treaty working group level (i.e. UNFCCC/IMO/CBD etc.), the EPA's evaluation of the MBECS technology and subsequent EPA promotion of such within the treaty working groups, could greatly encourage other treaty members to support an IMBECS Protocol like structure.   

3.2) At the National Level:

The EPA has Congressional guidance on biofuel mandates through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (specifically, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)). However, the current real-world production limitations of biofuel restrict the mandated target volumes from being achieved. The MBECS technology offers the nation a pathway to meeting and or exceeding the current biofuel use targets.

The gyre based MBECS operations will be flagged as 'ships' and thus the EPA’s jurisdiction would be expanded out to the US flagged MBECS 'fleet'. Early EPA assistance in establishing environmental MBECS related standards would be critical to all US actors.

3.3) Brief Summation on the EPA Factor:

The involvement of the EPA, in the STEM evaluation of the technology, would help establish a high level of STEM consensus at both the national and the intergovernmental treaty levels, as well as, pave the way for increasing the national level biofuel use mandated by Congress through providing regulatory support for and guidance to MBECS like operations.

4) The Value of NOAA to the IMBECS Protocol:

4.1) International Scope:

The primary relevant program within NOAA is the International Research and Applications Project (IRAP) which attempts to "...support activities that link climate research and assessments to practical risk management, development and adaptation challenges in key regions throughout the world.". In the context of the IMBECS proposal, expansion of the IRAP mission/budget would be needed to a modest degree.

Beyond the IRAP program, NOAA can also provide in-depth relevant knowledge of the oceanic/atmospheric sciences which would provide the EPA/State Dept. with guidance in their evaluations of the potential impacts/benefits of the MBECS technology.

4.2) Development/Operational Assistance of the MBECS Technology:

NOAAs' unique level of knowledge and in-depth modeling abilities of the oceanic/atmospheric environments would be a robust assist in the development and operational guidance of the MBECS technology.

4.3) Summary of NOAAs' Relevance:

In brief, NOAA can be supportive of the State Dept./EPA's evaluation of the relevant MBECS STEM, as well as, play a key role in vetting the MBECS method(s) at the intergovernmental climate change governance decision making level while contributing to the advancement of the MBECS technology and production output.

5) The US Navy:

The USN Green Fleet program could potentially benefit substantially by establishing mid-oceanic biofuel production/ storage depots and thus providing substantial funding support for US flagged MBECS operational development, through pre-purchasing biofuel and providing developmental assistance at the STEM level, is justifiable.

6) The State Department:

Beyond supporting the IMBECS Protocol at the intergovernmental level as a stand alone initiative, the US negotiators can champion acceptance/funding of the IMBECS Protocol within the context of thual current global FF crude production. The FF era would be in a sharp decline at that time.

Concerning the scientific observations during this phase; Although working in the oceanic gyres illuminates the vast majority of any indigenous biological environmental interaction (the gyres are oligotrophic), a great deal of environmental science can be conducted utilizing the physical MBECS tank farms. One important scientific area, related to global warming mitigation and which the physical MBECS farms are uniquely suited for, is the exploration of the dynamics of wide area surface water cooling. Such investigations may prove useful in relationship to the study of the ENSO and Cyclogenesis.

The reduction of atmospheric CO2 may be observable at the end of this phase, yet oceanic CO2 reduction will take far longer.  


Who will take these actions?

Concerning the IMBECS Foundation staffing/consulting needs, an international call would be put out for interested expert level parties in the areas of: 

1) Marine Engineering 

2) Marine Cultivation

3) Wide area marine surface/atmospheric thermal dynamics

4) Benthic Science

5) Biochar 

6) Olivine

The above list is not exhaustive.

At the IMBECS Foundation organizational level, a number of international actors will be needed to fill a wide range of positions. The organizational chart below gives a basic view of the scope of positions which will need to be recruited. 


Where will these actions be taken?

Globally, with a focus within the 5 subtropical convergence zones.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

A prominent paper on the CO2 emission reduction of algal biofuels is below:

Pilot-scale data provide enhanced estimates of the life cycle energy and emissions profile of algae biofuels produced via hydrothermal liquefaction.

Abstract

Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been used widely to estimate the environmental implications of deploying algae-to-energy systems even though no full-scale facilities have yet to be built. Here, data from a pilot-scale facility using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is used to estimate the life cycle profiles at full scale. Three scenarios (lab-, pilot-, and full-scale) were defined to understand how development in the industry could impact its life cycle burdens. HTL-derived algae fuels were found to have lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum fuels.....". 

The carbon negative factor, within the MBECS plan, represents a significant addition to the emission reduction/sequestration math found in the above study. 


What are other key benefits?

  • Oceanic/Atmospheric CO2 Store Reduction Through Large Scale Cultivation of Marine Biomass and Marine Biochar production
  • Wide Area Surface Cooling of Thermally Critical Oceanic Regions
  • Global Scale Production of Organic Food/Feed/Fertilizer/Polymers
  • Vast Scale Production of Freshwater
  • Creation of Mid-Oceanic Wildlife Preserves Supporting Biodiversity and the Protection of Endangered Marine Species 
  • Jobs/Taxes 
  • Global Energy Independence Resulting in a Trans-generational Global Economic Stimulus
  • Accommodations for Environmental/Economic Induced Migration; IMBECS Physical Operations Represent a New Form of 'Real Estate' (with jobs) Usable by Displaced Persons
  • Establishes the First Intergovernmentally Governed Form of Global Carbon Management
  • Reduces Pressure on Wild Catch Fisheries through Significant Expansion of Global Aquaculture
  • Reduces Pressure on Food Crop Conversion to Fuel Crops


What are the proposal’s costs?

The IMBECS operations will be self funding through profits once they begin operations. An overall/maximum one time R&D funding level of $750M is proposed as a means to carry out:

1) Establishing the IMBECS Foundation and thus national and global governance administration;

2) Routine real world testing of the tank farm construction elements required for establishing engineering proof of concept ($30M);

3) Construction and deployment of a 10 km2 Marine Resources Conversion Research Platform equipped with one Marine Covective Tower ($720M);

The tank farm proof of concept field trial will focus upon:

  • The ability to deploy/move a large scale submerged tank farm (i.e. can it be built and moved in a cost effective way?);

  • The ability to secure the farm against strong sea conditions/currents (i.e. can the farm survive even class 5 cyclones?) As an important side note, submarines do rather well sitting under the surface during storms. The MBECS tank farms will normally operate submerged;

  • The ability to manage ongoing cultivation under all sea states (i.e. can the cultivation regime continue under extreme storm conditions?);

  • To demonstrate the above list of abilities the use of a relatively small (0.50 km2) MBECS offshore platform would provide operational level proof of concept. In brief, that scale of prototype construct can be attained within a $30M budget.

  • The MBECS goal, on the issue of capital investment return, is a 7 year amortization schedule. 

The initial ($30Mfunding can be secured through a compilation of multiple USG level agencies and or corporate/philanthropic sponsors. Interestingly, the IMBECS Protocol is in line with the goals of the UNFCCC Green Fund and thus an application for funding support would be submitted to the Green Funds' Board of Directors as soon as the fund become operational. The maximum (one time) initiating R&D IMBECS Foundation funding needs represent 0.75% of the Green Fund's yearly budget.

Please see Sec. 6.2 Funding for more info..


Time line

Preparations for off shore deployment operations can start immediately as there are no governance issues regarding offshore mariculture.

The 1-5 year phase will be focused upon establishing the initial cultivation operations and recruiting the first group of for-profit IMBECS Franchise holders. Establishing that the MBECS operations are profitable to the franchise holders is central to the IMBECS Protocol. 

The scalability of the cultivation operations currently is one of the key questions concerning the IMBECS concept. Yet, once commercial level operations provide empirical financial data showing consistent/predictable retained earnings, expansion of operations, up to and beyond 1M km2, is plausible. In brief, this initial phase would be focused upon proving out the business model.

The 5-20 year phase will be a time of rapid expansion of cultivation/bio-refinery operations and environmental scientific observation.

The per km2/day bio-crude output estimate is 80 bbls/minimum and the rate of MBECS expansion can achieve 200 km2 per day. Thus, within 20 years, the daily bio-crude output can be as high as 80M bbls.. That level of production would approximately eq


Related proposals

1) Industrial GHG Reduction, Sustainable Growth and the IMBECS Protocol /  Marine BECCS

2) Global Scale Planning and the IMBECS Protocol /  Marine BECCS

3) Electrical Sector (Proposal Workspace)

4) Reversing Climate Change with Ocean-healing Seaweed Ecosystems /  Ocean Foresters

5) Global Carbon Management in the Post-Cap-and-Trade Carbon Economy /  Carbon Management

 


References

The IMBECS Protocol is conceptually related to the work found in the following documents/links. This list is not exhaustive: