Climate change is one of humanity’s biggest environmental challenges. One way scientists are attempting to mitigate the impacts of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to capture carbon (separate it from other gases) and store it where it can no longer act as a greenhouse gas.
In general, there are three approaches to capturing carbon dioxide: 1) pre-combustion (changing how a fuel is burned so that the CO2 is easily captured), 2) post-combustion (working on methods of capturing CO2), and 3) oxygen combustion (burning fuels in oxygen so that pure carbon dioxide is the result, making it easier to capture).
The process of capturing and storing carbon should lead to carbon markets where companies and individuals can purchase carbon credits for every unit of carbon dioxide captured and stored as a way of shrinking their carbon footprint. This adds an interesting dimension to the green careers available in the carbon capture and storage market.
Current Developments in the Carbon Capture and Storage Industry
The UN recently published a report that estimates the investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be close to $200 billion by 2012 worldwide, which should have a significant impact on the green careers available in the industry. In the US, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act put money behind carbon capture – $3.4 billion for development in this industry.
The Types of Green Jobs Available in the Carbon Capture and Storage Industry
Many of the careers in the carbon capture and storage industry will require specific green jobs training, but how long you’re in school will depend largely on the career path you choose. To get an idea of what’s available in the CCS job market, here’s a brief run-down of some of the possibilities:
- Plant installation: Construction workers and trades of all types are required to build and get carbon capture power plants ready for deployment – welders, metal workers, carpenters, and so on.
- Plant operation: Once the plant is operational, it requires people specializing in engineering and maintenance to ensure things run smoothly and efficiently. Here you may have a specialty in engineering, computer programming, and the like.
- GIS specialists: A GIS specialist is responsible for developing and using geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze potential carbon capture sites and monitor plans as they are developed. This will require a degree in geography or a diploma in GIS mapping and surveying.
- Scientists and researchers: There are numerous approaches to storing carbon – in forests, oceans, and rocks. That means you could specialize in forestry, genetics, geology, enzymology, oceanography, and many other scientific fields and enjoy a career in CCS.
- Legal and policy specialists: With a growing interest in CCS for its impact on carbon markets, there will be a significant need for lawyers and policy specialists capable of navigating these complex systems.
- Engineers: In almost every facet of CCS there are engineers – land development, process development and modeling, biofuels, mechanics, and so forth.
Image Via Flickr: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change