Dr James Joyce and myself travelled to Canberra last week to help represent the biochar production industry in Australia for the Department of Climate Change, workshop to discuss the development of methodologies for biochar under the Carbon Farming Initiative.
I feel the department has a long way to go to develop a usable framework, support of the Australian biochar production industry might be better placed as this type of program is very much a chicken before the egg.
The below text was taken from the pre notes before the workshop.
Biochar Sequestration – An Initial Biochar Methodology?
The Department considers that a methodology for sequestering carbon in biochar applied to soil may be an appropriate first step towards developing a suite of biochar methodologies covering abatement activities..
A key issue for biochar sequestration however, is establishing the stability of a given biochar in the environment in which it is being applied. If a biochar was added to soil and it was found to degrade overtime more quickly than anticipated, it would not achieve permanent abatement.
An approach which could reduce the risk for sequestration proponents of decreasing carbon stocks would be to calculate the concentration of carbon in the biochar which is highly stable and the concentration which is labile. ACCUs could then be assigned for the proportion of biochar which is stable.
If it is not possible to quantify the amount of stable carbon stored in a biochar with sufficient reliability through testing techniques, it may be possible to relate stability to manufacturing conditions. In this case the methodology would specify certain aspects such as feedstock, temperature and residence time and relate them to biochar stability and the calculation of ACCUs.
Ideally, the initial biochar sequestration methodology should relate to burial of a biochar in soil that is relatively inert with respect to degradation of that biochar. However, a measurement protocol which can reliably calculate the amount of stable carbon in biochar, may make it possible to develop a broader initial biochar methodology which could allow for a variety of feedstock and soils.