Future options for carbon management in deserts
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Future Options for Carbon Management in Deserts. Craig James General Manager Commercialisation and Communications, Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Alice Springs, Australia ABARE Conference Alice Springs 29 October 2008. Australia’s deserts. Australia is

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Future options for carbon management in deserts

Future Options for Carbon Management in Deserts

Craig James

General Manager Commercialisation and Communications,

Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre,

Alice Springs, Australia

ABARE Conference Alice Springs

29 October 2008


Australia s deserts

Australia’s deserts

  • Australia is

    • driest inhabited continent in the world

    • 70% of it is either arid or semi arid land.

  • ‘Deserts’ consist of

    • Arid zones - average rainfall of 250 mm or less

    • semi arid zone - average rainfall between 250-350 mm.

  • Little is known about the carbon cycle in the Australian deserts

Arid and semi-arid areas


Projected climate changes

Projected climate changes

Predicted percentage change in annual

rainfall by 2050, with respect to 1990 levels

Trends in annual maximum, mean and minimum temperature 1910-2002


National and international setting

Kyoto Protocol

Garnaut report

Green Paper: Investing in research and development on low emissions technologies

Government financial investments ($1.89B)

Australia’s National Carbon Accounting system (NCAS):

“system to account for greenhouse emissions from land-based sectors” (Garnaut 2008)

Grass roots movements

50/50 by 20/20

Community owned wind farms

National and international setting


How can deserts position for a carbon economy

Bio-sequestration

Deferring greenhouse gas (GHG) release

Reducing net CO2 release from fuels (biofuels)

Producing green energy

How can deserts position for a carbon economy?


1 bio sequestration

Growing carbon ‘hungry’ plants through irrigation

Possible with suitable ground water resources but limited.

Economically uncompetitive (?)

1. Bio-sequestration

Source: Department for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts


1 bio sequestration1

Carbon storage in soils, plants and dead or decaying matter

Encourage long-lived perennial plants growing on natural rainfall

A new view of the woody weed problem in historically-overgrazed lands

Low growth rates

Low carbon / ha but orders of

magnitude more hectares

Economics unknown

1. Bio-sequestration


2 deferring ghg release

Fire and Pastoral land management

Sequester carbon (stock) or change emission regimes

Value in these as off-sets

2. Deferring GHG release

Photo courtesy Dick Kimber


Fire management

West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project

Changes in fire regimes to lower emissions and store more carbon

WA study to commence

Pilbara region. Arid regions have carbon sequestration potential (Alchin 2007)

Need to evaluate options for rangeland management (eg Heckbert 2008)

More accurate information of rangeland carbon storage and sink potential needed

Fire management

Photo courtesy CSIRO


Desert wildfires

Desert wildfires


Strategies for carbon grazing

Vegetation recovery under lighter grazing regimes to increase stored carbon in perennial vegetation

More stored soil carbon

Rotational grazing could achieve these goals

Does extra infrastructure create more CO2 than is saved?

Cost/benefits are unclear

Strategies for carbon grazing


Pastoral management systems

Telemetry technologies bring management data and control of equipment into the homestead.

Less need to drive around – half the number of km per year on bore runs

10,000 km not driven = 3300kg of CO2

3,000 km not driven = 990 kg of CO2

Savings of $25,000-$35,000 in fuel costs

Pastoral management systems


3 biofuels

Transport fuels

Power generation (back-up to solar, wind)

Creating biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels

Use ground water resources to grow perennial vegetation

Harvest biomass to make biofuels (seed oil etc)

Renewable local production instead of non-renewable fossil sources

Already being explored by DAFWA

SA Farmers Federation guarantee pure bio-diesel 100% carbon neutral.

planting of native mallee trees which soak up carbon dioxide as they grow, acting as a "carbon sink". www.farmersfuel.com.au

3. Biofuels


Exploratory studies

CSIRO Reports findings

The cost of producing biofuels relative to petrol and diesel is the fundamental factor influencing the commercial viability of biofuels

Sustainability is a critical issue for the biofuels industry - there is no point in replacing one unsustainable system with another

Department of Rural Industries, Research and Development Corporation: Biofuels in Australia – an overview of issues and prospects June 2007

Exploratory studies


4 producing green energy

Desert natural resources

Solar power

Geothermal energy

4. Producing green energy


Incident solar energy

Incident solar energy


Geothermal

Central Australian Geothermal Energy Province, with connections into South Australia and Queensland and connecting the national grid

Geothermal

Source: Geodynamics. IRM Company ShowPage


Future economy

Future economy


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