Trash to Cash: Making Money from CO2 Emissions

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is big news today, mostly because of the proved link with man-made climate change and the consequences of this. But, it’s not all like that.  More and more manufacturing and energy businesses are finding that they are losing an opportunity by simply dumping this valuable by-product into the sky because they are simply unaware of its potential.

Does your business have a waste stream of carbon dioxide? Do you want to improve your bottom line profit by turning a waste stream into a revenue stream?

Your business can improve performance by monetising your waste carbon dioxide stream. We are not talking about the EU ETS carbon trading market which has a current price currently less than £5/tonne, but a real physical market where carbon dioxide has a tangible product value as a manufacturing commodity.  Subject to its purity, condition, geography and volume this could be up to £200/tonne.  A typical small biogas plant or malt whisky distillery could be generating and venting in excess of 5000 tonnes per annum  – that’s a potential revenue of more than £500,000 per year.  To achieve this requires evaluation, planning and careful investment.

There is a wide range of industrial CO2 sources from power plants and cement works.  Biogas generation and fermentation operations both result in the production of relatively high purity CO2 streams which currently lie outside the EU ETS because of their biomass basis.  Such streams are relatively simple and often cost effective to purify further using one of several established processes based upon simple skid mounted units which deliver transportable liquid CO2.

In the UK, the physical CO2 market is currently around 2 million tonnes per year and is worth approximately £200 million.  A small number of global gas refining businesses service the bulk of this market.  There is however significant and growing opportunity for CO2 producers both in Scotland and elsewhere to sell directly to new and emerging customers.  It simply needs an awareness of what is possible and what is cost effective.  Furthermore, the zero value to the emitter and much higher prices paid by the customer demands that these commercial opportunities are carefully assessed.

Whilst carbon dioxide commercialisation won’t address the weighty issue of climate change because of the small scale involved (current commercialisation use is around 0.5% of UK national emissions), it can help to raise the profile of the carbon dioxide issue and also add cash to the bottom line at the same time.

The core business of Pale Blue Dot Energy is advising clients faced with the challenges and opportunities of the transition to a low carbon economy.  This includes the commercialisation of carbon dioxide streams.

If you want to understand how your business can make money from waste carbon dioxide streams, whilst reducing waste, please get in touch.

Note: the new Ladybird book on climate change was published in January 2017.  It represents a summary of the climate change issue from a range of independent experts in the field to ensure its accuracy and robustness.  As with all Ladybird titles, it is designed to appeal to all age groups and we consider it to be recommended reading for all children, adults, EPA heads and presidents alike.

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