Carbon Capture Report Card : Fail

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as known as Carbon Geosequestration, or more simply Carbon Sequestration was put forward as a “leading edge” technology to the IPCC from the energy industry way back in 2002 :-

http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/ipcc/ScopingPaper-SRCCS.pdf

A Special Report was published by the IPCC in 2005 :-

http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/publications/special-reports/special-report-on-carbon-dioxide-capture-and-storage

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_data_reports.shtml#2

The reasoning was as follows : coal is cheap and abundant, allegedly, and everybody (especially the Chinese) are going to continue burning it for energy for another 200 years, so we better find ways to mitigate the emissions using engineering.

The first big fail on the score card : it’s expensive. You have to spend heaps more money on not only the CCS pumping and storage infrastructure, but you have to spend heaps more money on fuel as a coal-fired power station with CCS fitted will burn something in the region of 20% to 45% more fuel (analyses vary) :-

http://www.worldcoal.org/carbon-capture-storage/ccs-technologies/

“Around 10-40% more energy is required with CCS than without…”

The second big fail, and this could be the clincher : it uses even more water than un-mitigated coal power generation, and in some places (notably China and the USA), water competition between population, agriculture and industry is appearing :-

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/ETIP-DP-2010-15-final-4.pdf

See pages 42 and 46 (Conclusion).

And all this just to justify continuing to burn coal, when supply is stressed and prices are at risk of rising…

Tell me please : is anybody seriously demonstrating large volume CCS anywhere in the world apart from people burying Carbon Dioxide as a means for Enhanced Oil Recovery in old petroleum wells ?

It seems that the only way to finance CCS will be through a ridiculous international subsidy known as the Clean Development Mechanism – although why dirty coal should get it, I really don’t know. It would be much, much cheaper to stop using fossil fuels and start using green power…

The Cancun IPCC get-together ruled CCS projects into the CDM :-

http://www.climaticoanalysis.org/post/towards-consensus-integrating-carbon-capture-and-storage-into-the-cdm-at-cancun/

And this after it having been ruled out in the 2009 IPCC hook up in Copenhagen :-

http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/carbon-capture-ruled-un-clean-projects-list/article-188403

How’s Australia doing ? :-

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8185689/bligh-spends-more-on-carbon-capture

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/cost-blowout-hits-clean-coal-vision/story-fn59niix-1225973604223

And what’s the deal about “cleaner” plants ? :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/14/un-carbon-offset-coal-plants

For more news and views from the inside :-

http://www.ccsassociation.org.uk/news/latest_news.html

(but don’t believe the map – most of the projects won’t be happening)

http://www.captureready.com/EN/Channels/Home/index.asp

(Download the newsletters – link top right)

How ready is Carbon Capture ?

http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/sccs/Capture_Ready_CCS_power_plant_Report_for_WWF_(FINAL)_May08.pdf

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/library/position/120154.aspx

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/FutureGen-narrows-potential-apf-2858992453.html?x=0&.v=1

http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-information/futuregen-clean-coal/

Fail number 3 : doesn’t look like it’s even close to getting off the starting blocks yet in the race to a lower carbon future.

Looks like we’ve all been captured by the concept of Carbon Capture, but that it’s a gossamer filament of ethereal phlogiston, wafting away in the breeze.

Bypass coal, and go straight to the concentrated solar powerhouse, I’d advise.

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