High Costs Bury AEP’s Carbon Burial Plan

Mountaineer Power Plant - Image from Panaramio by Mcgiver1

Story submitted by Hugh McCullough

American Electric Power has scuttled its pilot project to bury CO2 from its Mountaineer coal-burning plant in Red Haven WVa. The original projected cost, before unanticipated overruns, was $668 million. About 1/3 of the gross output from a plant would be required to capture, compress and inject the CO2 into the ground, generating an automatic 50% increase in the cost of net output, before conversion costs.

“The AEP plan, announced with much fanfare in 2009, marked the first time that carbon dioxide was to be captured and buried at a US power plant.”

The pilot system would only have captured 110,000 tons of CO2 per year, out of a total of 7.9 to 9.8 million tons per year from the plant. The company, headquartered in Columbus, “cited difficulties in getting state regulators to approve charging customers for the costs of carbon capture.”

From this morning’s Columbus (OH) Dispatch: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2011/07/15/high-costs-bury-aeps-carbon-plan.html?sid=101

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91 Responses to High Costs Bury AEP’s Carbon Burial Plan

  1. JimBrock says:

    Imagine that! Trying to pass on a cost to the consumer!! Chuckle.

  2. Jeff Id says:

    I hope people begin to realize just how serious this insanity is.

  3. RockyRoad says:

    It does indeed sound like people are beginning to understand how EXPENSIVE (and perhaps useless) it is to sequester CO2. And to think this plan was rejected where they were going to sequester from 1.1 to 1.4% of the total CO2 emitted from this power plant. It must be pretty expensive to force a non-combustible gas into solid rock.

  4. Interstellar Bill says:

    The recent mass deaths from a CO2-burping African crater-lake
    would be as nothing to what one of these sites could do
    if all its CO2 was released, at the wrong time.
    Let this insanity go far enough and even the Johnstown Flood will be surpassed in woe.
    First they kill the birds with windmills, then it’ll be us with concentrated CO2.

  5. Richard S Courtney says:

    The article says;

    “The pilot system would only have captured 110,000 tons of CO2 per year, out of a total of 7.9 to 9.8 million tons per year from the plant.”

    So, at most only 1.4%of the emitted CO2 would have been captured.

    And the article says;

    “About 1/3 of the gross output from a plant would be required to capture, compress and inject the CO2 into the ground, generating an automatic 50% increase in the cost of net output, before conversion costs.”

    So, to achieve the trivial amount of CO2 the plant’s electricity output would be reduced by more than a 1/3 and the cost of its electricity output would increased by more than 50%.

    Nobody could have been so foolish as to think either the shareholders in the company or the consumers of its product would accept such large losses of output with such large increases to costs for so trivially small an amount of CO2 capture.

    In other words, the scheme could not have been a serious proposal so must have been a PR stunt.

    Richard

  6. higley7 says:

    I knew it was a plan that wouldn’t hold water, let alone CO2.

    If they are so worried about fracking leaking methane (which it doesn’t), why would they think the CO2 would stay put?

  7. Of all the consequences of forgetting the chemical equation for photosynthesis, this is one of the worst. After all the trouble getting coal out of its long slumber in the earth, then we want to BURY the most valuable product–the carbon dioxide that could lead to more life on Earth.

  8. Where is the Embodied Energy analysis and what is the Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) for this project?

    Or to say it another way, how many tons of CO2 will be generated designing, fabricating, erecting, operating, maintaining, and decommissioning this project versus how many tons will ultimately be buried?

    And once buried, how do we know that it will stay there and not leak back into the atmosphere?

  9. Stunning, jaw-dropping insanity.

  10. Mac the Knife says:

    “What we have here…. is a failure to communicate!” – classic line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”

    This is a marketing failure, plain and simple!. The captured CO2 should be sold at a premium price, as a superior insulation material because of it’s ‘proven, settled science’ capability to capture ‘heat’.
    };>)

  11. James Sexton says:

    They didn’t think AEP was going to swallow the cost, did they?

    This is why adults should be making economic choices and policies and not watermelons.

  12. Dr T G Watkins says:

    I second ‘The Air Vent’.
    It is typical of the socialist mindset that costs should never be passed on.
    Water, food and shelter are the essential requirements for human survival so, of course they should all be free in the socialist Utopia. Try that in Tesco or Walmart!

  13. Scott Covert says:

    They still got stung on the cost of the pilot project unless the Feds footed the bill.

    If they are in California, they’ll eventually pay fines that ammount to a large portion of that expenditure. That would suit CA just fine. It’ll be just like the gasoline taxes, huge revenue for the beurocracy and zero benefit to the taxpayer other than a new shiny yoke for our necks.

  14. Ross says:

    Can anyone explain why when dealing with any “climate change” story the media continue to show exhaust stacks from installations, either industrial or power generation, belching water vapour from heat exchangers into the atmosphere ?

    Is it because, unlike 40 years ago, they can’t find any actual smokestacks belching visible pollution ?

    Clearly this is a deception to reinforce a pre-ordained message.

    Does it work ?

  15. SteveSadlov says:

    I mean, if a plant really wants to “do something” about CO2 they can send stack gasses into their cooling ponds and grow algae. The algae is then harvested to turn into fertilizer or biofuel.

  16. u.k.(us) says:

    They made the mistake of not getting subsidized.
    This is how you do it:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-06/ameren-carbon-capture-plant-gets-1-billion-from-u-s-.html

    Excerpt:
    Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration pledged $1 billion in stimulus funds to capture carbon emissions from a coal-fired Ameren Corp. power plant in Illinois, the biggest U.S. effort to show the polluting fuel can be made cleaner.
    ===========
    This “plan” has been going back and forth between approval and cancellation for years, not sure if this is the final resolution
    I do know our previous Governor is going to jail, they “all” do.

  17. So will this pivotal story make it into the mainstream?

    Hmmm, Friday afternoon. I bet no.

  18. Me says:

    They always pass the cost on to the consumer,didn’t you realize that yet.

  19. Gary Hladik says:

    I’m gonna miss that “clean coal” plant…NOT.

    I think we have better things to do with carbon than dig it up and bury it again. :-)

  20. Kev-in-Uk says:

    As a Geologist and Geo-engineer, I find the principle of CO2 capture and effective subterranean storage somewhat unlikely. As a pro-nuclear power supporter it irks me even more to think that the greenies will have us pay through the nose for CO2 friendly energy but , in the same breath will argue that nuclear is too expensive! Frickin idots! Imagine how much cleaner the atmosphere today would be if nuclear had taken off in the 70′s? Imagine how much more expertise and R&D would have been achieved, etc, etc……..Greenpeace? – bunch of greenp*ssheads if you ask me…….someday, in the not too distant future, history will write that mankinds development has been seriously restrained by the actions of a crass few……

  21. 1DandyTroll says:

    I think they missed the era of perfect combustion ratios and what not, when you inject just the right amount of air to get the “perfect burn”, oh wait they did that in the automobile industry already to lower all kinds of emissions from imperfect and incomplete burn process.

    Obviously the car industry is a smashing success, so maybe the coal fired industry can do the same, but then again there’s not much of any subsidies for changing the air flow.

  22. DonS says:

    Any chance this plan was floated as an object lesson to state regulators? Betcha none of those guys want to hear any more talk about sequestration.

  23. John F. Hultquist says:

    Scott Covert says:
    July 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    “. . . they’ll eventually pay fines . . .

    That made me chuckle because I read this in the WSJ this morning:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303406104576445752787189310.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

    Headline from WSJ Review & Outlook:
    Cellulosic Ethanol and Unicorns
    “The EPA punishes oil refiners for not buying a product no one makes.”

  24. BenfromMO says:

    I think carbon capture is where we need to watch the oil companies and oil barons so to speak. For years, their big claim to fame is that we need to inject the CO2 into the ground and the second benefit to this is that you can pump more oil out of wells if you do this. All well and true, but like people have already referenced, bad things happen if the CO2 suddenly comes to the surface all at once….like death and massive destruction.

    Follow the money…oil companies in general fund green companies and people really wonder why? Its not just for the image (I am sure that it helps of course) but its for the benefits they get alltogether.

    But do not ask oil companies to actually pay for this sequestering of CO2. Their idea is to get customers to pay for this so that they get free oil out of the ground basically at taxpayer or energy user expense. I think we can all cheer on this failing and hope for more failure in this type of endeavor.

    Nothing like pumping harmless plant food underground where it can become an environmental and human castatrophe….

    Such terrible ideas and we wonder how greens come up with them. Look at the money and where its coming from. Simple.

  25. G. Karst says:

    When CO2 is buried, it removes more oxygen than carbon. This oxygen would normally have been freed, when a plant eats the carbon. Removing food (CO2) from the atmosphere removes twice as much oxygen, from the cycle. Inverted smoke stacks… what a concept. GK

  26. Kev-in-Uk says:

    G. Karst says:
    July 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I see what you are saying, and you are perfectly correct ……namely that CO2 sequestration by plants produces O2 into the atmosphere and therefore stashing away CO2 is removing (indirectly) our potential O2 supply. This is indeed correct – but hey, lets not bother the greens with a bit of factual information!

  27. If CO2 were injected into the soil, won’t that trap heat rising from center of the earth? The whole planet will melt!!!

    In addition to their negligence in burying CO2, AEP wants to kill tens of thousands of Americans:
    http://tinyurl.com/3qfwyq3

    Out of season, but here is another amusing bit from the same website:
    http://tinyurl.com/6fdf3sp

  28. jaymam says:

    G. Karst says:
    “When CO2 is buried, it removes more oxygen than carbon.”

    So, remove the oxygen from the CO2. Then you have pure carbon left, which you can burn again! Perpetual motion anyone?

    /sarc

  29. GogogoStopSTOP says:

    Aahhhmmmmm… Just which part of the Second Laws of Thermodynamics didn’t they understand. I mean, which state regulators, which federal regulators & who at AEP didn’t understand entropy!?

    To control CO2, ie, bury it, should be “costless?” I’m creating more order & it should be cost competitive with plants not controlling the product of combustion. Would not have figured this from a industrial sector founded on entropy.

    Who got paid off? Follow the money! What “Greenie” thought our money could be spent this way?

  30. Robert of Ottawa says:

    1/3 of the gross output from a plant would be required to capture, compress and inject the CO2 into the ground

    I think that says it all; whether it’s 1/3, 1/5 or 1/2, it obviously does not make sense …. especially as I do not understand how this gas will stay underground. The historical carbon-capture mechanism has been the deposition of CO2, via various loops, of limestone in the ocean.

  31. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Following upon my previous post, I am surprised that the enviro-mentalists haven’t started complaining about the threat to life that is posed by the “burning” of Oxygen.

    PS: Note “quotes”

  32. “The original projected cost, before unanticipated overruns, was $668 million.”

    There are always cost overruns, so why were they “unanticipated”? Wouldn’t it be smarter to add a significant percentage to the original estimate for cost overruns? Then if they don’t run over, they’LL be pleasantly surprised. Estimate $668 million, plus $200 million or so for overruns, but label it that way. “This project will cost $668 million to complete, but we anticipate probably another $200 million in cost overruns, if the general history of large projects is any indication.” Then let the contractors explain if there are in fact cost overruns.

    Or better still, DON’T EVEN START SUCH STUPID AND WASTEFUL “PROJECTS.”

  33. Ric Werme says:

    Interstellar Bill says:
    July 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    The recent mass deaths from a CO2-burping African crater-lake

    Umm, Which recent event? The best known is Lake Nyos in 1986 (a “soda straw fountain” is keeping the lake stable now). I think there was a smaller event several years later at a different volcanic lake. I don’t know of one in the last few years.

    http://www.neatorama.com/2007/05/21/the-strangest-disaster-of-the-20th-century/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos

  34. rbateman says:

    They should have had a greenhouse farm built all around the power plant. That way, they could simply let nature do what it does best: eat it for lunch.

  35. nothothere says:

    So, lets figure this out, it takes 1/3 of the output to sequester ~1.5% of the CO2. So, if you use all of the output you could sequester ~4.5% of the CO2. Yeah, that’s the ticket, our customers will glady pay three times as much for NO ELECTRICITY to save the earth……..

    MADNESS…..

    Kevin

  36. Ric Werme says:

    Ross says:
    July 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Can anyone explain why when dealing with any “climate change” story the media continue to show exhaust stacks from installations, either industrial or power generation, belching water vapour from heat exchangers into the atmosphere ?

    Sure – a visually attracting image. A plant producing clear gas would look much like one that was shut down. Boring!

    As for this story, note the caption – “Mountaineer Power Plant”. Note the lead paragraph. “American Electric Power has scuttled its pilot project to bury CO2 from its Mountaineer coal-burning plant….”

    Perhaps next time Hugh McCullough can find an action photo of the accounting office at AEP. :-)

  37. Wade says:

    I know how you can “sequester” CO2, and make a profit at the same time! Sell greenhouses that promise to grow plants twice as fast and then make a specialty device which pumps the CO2 into the the greenhouse. Of course, since CO2 from Satan himself, the greenhouse must have a way to keep the demonic CO2 inside. The power company can market it as “special plant food”.

    Problem solved. CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, plants grow faster, and will allow the power company to recoup the costs of capture the demonic CO2.

  38. PeterGeorge says:

    I don’t like pumping CO2 into the ground. And I’m not as interested in flue gas capture as the general solution: direct capture from the atmosphere.

    The 50% cost increase for the plant seemed low to me. I’ve mostly read that current CCS technologies would double the cost of electricity (from coal). And from what I’ve read that’s approximately the “real” cost of wind power as well – about double coal (without CCS) costs. So at this point, if, for whatever reason, we HAD TO reduce NET CO2 emissions from power generation, there doesn’t seem to be an economic reason to favor a massive shift to wind power over adding CCS to coal plants. (Does anyone have better numbers than mine on this?)

    But since we don’t HAVE to do it now, and may NEVER need to, we obviously can’t expect private investors to risk much on a “maybe, but probably not” prospect.

    And yet there is an important common interest in getting much better at CCS (including Direct CCS) as quickly as possible, because IF there is eventually a decision to reduce net CO2 emissions, the alternative to large scale, cheap and clean CCS would be CATASTROPHIC.

  39. TerryS says:

    About 1/3 of the gross output from a plant would be required to capture, compress and inject the CO2 into the ground

    and

    The pilot system would only have captured 110,000 tons of CO2 per year, out of a total of 7.9 to 9.8 million tons per year from the plant.

    Since 1/3 of the output is required to capture the CO2 then 1/3 of the emissions is used to generate power to capture the CO2.
    Therefore they generate between 2.6 and 3.3 million tons of CO2 so as to capture 110,000 tons.
    Or to put it another another way for every ton of CO2 they capture they have to generate between 20 and 30 tons of CO2 to capture it.

  40. TerryS says:

    Forget my comment above, I’m having comprehension difficulties due to lack of sleep.

  41. Ed Barbar says:

    Jeez, thank goodness they didn’t try this in CA. It would have been a no brainer to pass on the costs.

  42. Michael D Smith says:

    So for a mere $48 Billion, (before cost overrruns, of course), we could have taken the CO2 from a single coal plant, sequestered it, and reduced efficiency by about 33%, and increased cost by 50%, before accounting for the cost of capital. Who is failing to see the bargain in all of this?

    It’s a 1330 megawatt plant. At 15% cost of capital, let’s say, it’s only an additional $6B per year for those 1330*24*365 or 11650800 megawatt hours. Assuming $0.1 per kWH cost normally, which is a typical, “all-in” cost, plus profit, it would only add 6e9/11.65e9 or $0.51 more per kWH for capital cost, or just over 5x the current cost, an increase of ONLY 410%, on top of the 50% direct cost increase. This means it costs 5x as much to sequester coal as to convert it to energy and deliver it. I’m particularly fond of fizzy groundwater too, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

    Now, you must know that the government was going to pay 50% of it, so that’s free money and doesn’t count, so it’s MUCH cheaper than 5x as expensive (like when you use real money).

    Naturally, this technology can be applied to all coal plants in the world. By some estimates, there are 50,000 electric generating plants, but let’s just say for the fun of it, there are only 1000 coal plants. I’m sure there are no more than that. In Illinois. You see then, that it would only cost $48 Trillion to convert all of those to this amazing new technology, which, by the way, would also produce lots of other great jobs mining all that iron ore to make all the steel that you would spend most of the $48 Trillion on, which also, incidentally, requires HUGE amounts of electricity to produce, which takes lots of COAL!. So it’s a win-win. Caterpillar and would LOVE all THOSE green jobs (that’s why they are a part of USCAP!). Hey, for that matter, so would Duke Energy! No wonder they’re buddies!

    Now, some might claim that since China is putting 50GW of new coal capacity online each YEAR, my analysis might be a little understated. Because capturing all of that would be $38*48B, or 1.8 Trillion, just for the new plants, per year. CHEAP!!! I think we piss that away each year just on the little global warming ratings stickers they’re putting on new cars these days. So it’s a great deal.

    $Trillion is the new $Billion. By the time we reaaally start ramping up the green jobs, $Quadrillion will be the new $Trillion. It’s good. With inflation, you also get paid more!!! Excellent!

  43. AnonyMoose says:

    RockyRoad says: July 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm
    … It must be pretty expensive to force a non-combustible gas into solid rock.

    Maybe it would be easier to drop logs down a hole. Or bury them in a landfill.

  44. Jesse says:

    It would be a real struggle to make a coal fired power plant capture CO2 cost effectively. The typical limestone forced oxidation scrubbers do a pretty good job on SO2 but annoying amounts of pollutants still get through the process. To get a pure stream of CO2 to inject into rock formations takes of lot of downstream chemical processing and electricity from the power plant. The parasitic load and maintenance/operation of auxiliary equipment decreases overall efficiency and drives up the cost of production. Coal gasification is a better way to go, but that comes with its own set of problems.

  45. oMan says:

    Michael D Smith (@6:14 PM). Don’t forget the sarc/ indicator. Otherwise the Greens will take this excellent proposal and run with it. They love big numbers, especially for checks made out to their friends, and paid by the taxpayer.

  46. oeman50 says:

    OK, folks let’s get some facts clear. The Mountaineer project was going to take an equivalent of 235 MW, not the whole plant’s output, and sequester that amount of CO2. The cost was going to be $668 million, the feds were going to kick in half as a stimulus-funded CCPI-3 project. This was to be the jumbo installation, the largest in the world, yes even larger than in Kyoto protocol Europe. AEP had already installed and operated a 20 MW CCS pilot (the “small” plant) at Mountaineer that ran for almost 2 years before being shut down in May at the planned end of the project.

    The technology they intended to use was chilled ammonia, which has parasitic power draw of 15 to 20% of the plant output, not 1/3, that is the old monoethanolamine (MEA) process that is being rapidly eclipsed by newer solvents.

    AEP was motivated to take the risk on being an early adopter of CCS technoloby because of their exposure to coal powered plants. Almost all of their tens of thousands of mw of power generation is coal (they do have one 2 unit nuclear station). When AEP made the decision to head in this direction, Waxman-Marckey was staring the industry in the face and it looked inevitable that some form of carbon regulation was going to be passed. Thank goodness that did not happen!

    In spite of the pending EPA regulations of CO2, CCS is still not looking good. It is still hugely expensive, even with the advances in technology. Add this on top of all of the other regulations that are a part of EPA’s war on coal, and you will find Grandma cannot afford any of it.

    BTW, I do not work for AEP, but I am a engineer who has studied their efforts extensively. In a way it is sad that the work these guys have put into this, not only at AEP but across the nation, is for naught, but I must say it is good for consumers this project is going down the tubes. And I hope the public will continue to wake up and realize CCS is a costly pipe dream that will never mitigate global warming.

  47. Doug Badgero says:

    I work for AEP, at their nuclear plant, but speak only for myself.

    This was to be installed at a plant that is operated in a regulated utility……like many/most generating plants are in the USA. Once the political winds changed away from carbon legislation no regulator was going to allow cost recovery for this project. They already had a proof of concept CCS system operating on a small portion of Mountaineer’s exhaust, about a 20Mw slipstream I think. It was using about 30% of the slipstream power to power the CCS equipment. Again, 30% of the slipstream value not 30% of total plant output. They were hoping to get down to about 20% parasitic load. Obviously, this would still be a huge deal to de-rate every coal power plant CCS is attached to by 20-35%. This 600 million plus project was still only going to be on 2 or 3 hundred MWe slipstream I believe……..utility scale so to speak but NOT the full plant output.

    The geology of this area was favorable to sequester CO2 underground. Conceptually this makes sense, this is after all how we store large volumes of natural gas in this country. However, not every coal plant is in a geologically acceptable area so as a practical matter this was a pipe dream IMHO. It would have all been a big waste of money anyway since it was to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

  48. James Sexton says:

    Michael D Smith says:
    July 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    “……So it’s a win-win. Caterpillar and would LOVE all THOSE green jobs (that’s why they are a part of USCAP!). Hey, for that matter, so would Duke Energy! No wonder they’re buddies! ……”
    =======================================================================
    Exactly! You tied it together just right! (But with one minor correction.) Caterpillar recently pulled out of USCAP. Duke is still hanging in though, praying this madness will go through.

    Obviously, what many morons thought, is that energy companies gave a damn about the cost of their product. They don’t, as long as they get to pass the cost on. Often, they even get a little bump beyond the cost. It makes their investors happy when stuff like that occurs. I’m sure they’re more than miffed some regulatory agency wouldn’t let them just move the cost to the consumers. In Cali, it isn’t a problem, in fact, they financed their smart grid implementation twice!!! Most aren’t very bright over there, but we love ‘em anyway. (There are many notable exceptions who frequent this site.) :-)

    In a bizarre way though, the goal of the watermelons is succeeding. We’re using less electricity. This is because the capital spent on stupidity such as CO2 sequestering is capital not spent on economic growth. We consume less electricity because we do less. We don’t have the money to do more. Poverty for the U.S. is outcome desired by the green movement.

  49. Kevin Kilty says:

    Ross says:
    July 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Can anyone explain why when dealing with any “climate change” story the media continue to show exhaust stacks from installations, either industrial or power generation, belching water vapour from heat exchangers into the atmosphere ?…

    Not only the media, but a widely used college-level, conceptual physics textbook shows a comparison of “smokestacks” two days. One on a humid, cold day when water vapor condenses readily to a visible cloud, and one on a hot, dry day when the vapor stays vapor, and then sells the fiction that the difference is smoke–it doesn’t look remotely like smoke.

    nothothere says:
    July 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    So, lets figure this out, it takes 1/3 of the output to sequester ~1.5% of the CO2. So, if you use all of the output you could sequester ~4.5% of the CO2. …..

    The 1/3 figure is for capturing all of the CO2, but it is still madness as you say.

  50. Werner Brozek says:

    I did some number crunching on this issue since in Alberta, Canada, they still want to spend about a billion dollars on one carbon capture project. At the present time, humans emit about 90 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every DAY. I DO NOT believe this to be the case, however let us assume there will be the IPCC average number of 3 degrees C increase in temperature due to our emissions if we do nothing. So if a billion dollars is spent to capture 1 million tons a YEAR, this amounts to a fraction of 1 in 32,850. So if nothing is done, the temperature will presumably go up 3.0000 degrees C, but if a billion dollars is spent, the temperature would go up by 2.9999 degrees. Or to put in another way, if we take the temperature of 10,000 cities now and then again in 100 years from now, 9,999 cities will then be 3 degrees warmer and 1 will be 2 degrees warmer. Is this correct?

  51. Zorro says:

    Someone tell Juliar Gillard and the Australian Labor party. Way to go, you big “polluders”
    LOL

  52. Master of Obvious says:

    Step 1: soda pop co-gen facility. Step 2: Profit!

  53. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    Anyone surprised that the cost of carbon dioxide capture does not have any grounding in economics or engineering? When I first heard that they were seriously considering such an idea, I was amazed and a bit dismayed by they possibility that intelligent people in positions of authority and responsibility (and who are paid very well) would actually consider such a stupid plan.

  54. Brian H says:

    Is there ONE Greenie power proposal that makes sense?? After the breeze from the hand-waving stops and the concealing curtains sag, I’ve never come across one that wasn’t flawed and moribund at the core.

  55. Leon Brozyna says:

    Pity the electric power producer … they’re damned no matter what they do. One regulatory body’s goal is to keep rates low for the consumers. Another regulatory body’s goal is to make them reduce emissions so much that it raises the cost of producing the electricity. And, being caught between a rock and a hard place, if they shut down facilities as being prohibitively too expensive to operate, they’ll get damned for the rolling blackouts and brownouts.

  56. wayne says:

    Jeff’s right, insane.

  57. old engineer says:

    1DandyTroll says:
    July 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm
    “I think they missed the era of perfect combustion ratios and what not, when you inject just the right amount of air to get the “perfect burn”,”
    ===========================================================================
    Either I misunderstand what you are saying, or you don’t understand the chemisty of combustion.
    I read your comments as saying that the coal fired plants need to run at the optimum air- fuel ratio to reduce their emissions. This is true for emissions of CO, partially burned fuel, and oxides of nitrogen ( which are the emissions the auto industry has reduced). BUT this post is about capturing CO2. You know the greenhouse gas-carbon dioxide.

    I notice you comment often, so perhaps a basic chemisty of combustion lesson will help your comments. When you burn carbon (in the case of coal) or hydrocarbons (in case of gasoline for cars) you get the most CO2 when you have the optimum air to fuel ratio (that is, enough air to completely burn all the fuel. The technical term is stoichiometric air- fuel ratio). Burning lean (more air) of stoichiometric is actually somehat more efficient, but will increase the oxides of nitrogen in the exhaust.

    Of course coal fired power plants already know this, so they actually operate at the most efficient air-fuel ratio, and thus maximize the amount of CO2 in the exhaust, while minimizing CO, and partially burned fuel.

    I, like many others who comment here, believe that CO2 is plant food, so the more the better. No need to capture it.

  58. HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS SAFE TO PUMP THIS INTO THE GROUND?
    It might sound a tad stoopid, but hey look what fracking is and has done in the way of pollunting the ground water people rely on for life……

  59. Blade says:

    G. Karst [July 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm] says:

    “When CO2 is buried, it removes more oxygen than carbon. This oxygen would normally have been freed, when a plant eats the carbon. Removing food (CO2) from the atmosphere removes twice as much oxygen, from the cycle. Inverted smoke stacks… what a concept. GK”

    Okay, that is pretty darn profound. Did the AGW cultists even consider this?

  60. Casper says:

    We will also be trying to capture CO2 under the Baltic Sea:
    http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/Wiadomosci/1,80273,9957662,Na_Baltyku_maja_powstac_skladowiska_dwutlenku_wegla.html
    The idiocy is an international problem…

  61. John Marshall says:

    CCS is an untried practice with unknown consequences. Apart from the fact that it will do nothing to tame climate or stop climate changing, it has the potential to cause all sorts of harm.

    It is also unnecessary because the theory of GHG’s is faulty and does not do what it says on the tin.

  62. cedarhill says:

    You can buy dry ice starting at one (1) dollar per 10 to 50 pounds which, um, is one pound on CO2. For about 5 million or so, they could have “recovered” the CO2 simply by buying it from dry ice manufacturers. Or a bit over 100 years of “recovery” for the money spent (not counting that had they invested the money and paid with earnings, it would have been until the Sun dies).

    What would have been really brilliant would to have simple built some synfuel plants and let the carbon be recycle. Do the math. 10 million tons of CO2 will produce how many gallons of liquid methane (aka natural gas)? And gee, you can sell it.

  63. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

    Consider a single 500MW gen-set, of which there are typically between 80 and 100, or equivalent powering the UK at any given time.
    If one third of that 500MW goes into CCS then maybe half of that will finish up as stored energy in the compressed gas. So about 80MW is being pumped into the ground or ‘stored’
    Over the course of one year, each 500MW gen-set will thus be storing about 2,500 Terajoules.

    Then consider that one ton of TNT contains about 4 Gigajoules and about 63 Terajoules were released over Hiroshima.
    So, over the course of one year in the UK, a CCS equipped 500MW gen-set will store as much energy in the form of compressed gas as were released in 40 Hiroshimas. There are 100+ such gen-sets here in the UK alone.
    And the watermelons worry about a few tons of nuclear waste being stored underground.
    What planet are those people on?

  64. crosspatch says:

    It would probably be cheaper and more effective for the power company to obtain waste paper, slurry the paper and ram it into old coal mines. That way they can sequester more carbon than was extracted by the coal mining and basically make the coal carbon-neutral.

  65. Robert says:

    crosspatch says:
    July 16, 2011 at 6:13 am

    It would probably be cheaper and more effective for the power company to obtain waste paper, slurry the paper and ram it into old coal mines. That way they can sequester more carbon than was extracted by the coal mining and basically make the coal carbon-neutral.

    You mean that nice green paper also known as Dollars. It makes perfect sense.

  66. Bob Barker says:

    Earth has a number of ways of sequestering carbon and it does it much more efficiently and productively than humans have been able to envision. What type of people do we have in government that are willing to spend (waste) so much money on projects that have no hope of being successful for so many reasons? Surely they must have first done an advanced engineering study for a few thousand dollars that told them how risky, inefficient and costly it was going to be…….and then ignored it.

  67. Don Bennett says:

    CCS is a total misallocation of resources. A massive investment for absolutely no return.

    I as an engineer, I worked in natural gas processing for better than 25 years and had lots of opportunities to work with and on numerous amine systems removing acid gases from the production stream of which CO2 was one of the components (H2S was generally the other component if present). Early in the production field life, the production could be introduced into the process at the normal operating pressure of the amine systems (800 – 1200 psig or there abouts) but after the pressure in the reservoir declined, the production stream had to be compressed up to the inlet pressure of the amine systems thereby adding another step in the process. (The main plants I worked on were the Whitney Canyon Plant and the Anschutz Ranch East Plant.)

    Amine systems alone are hard to maintain and at times hard to operate. Given another step in the process (compression) the complication of the process is increased markedly. CCS has this complication riight from the beginning with compression taking the furnace effluent from essentially atmospheric pressure up to the operating pressure of the amine system. The metallurgy of the entire system has to be of a corrosion resistant material (a stainless steel of some grade) which means very significant initial investement.

    Plus remember that the inlet stream to the amine system will be mainly N2 so the entire system will be designed to handle a gas stream that only has small portion is CO2. (I haven’t done the stoichiometry to figure out the percentage). The N2 will be vented to the atmosphere. There might be some energy recovery process to get some of the energy back from compressing the N2 up to plant pressure but having tried to do some of that at one of the plants, it’s not easy.

    As I type this, I’m thinking of the difficulties about running the CCS plant. If anyone thinks that all the CO2 produced from a coal fired plant would be pumped downhole (I have little experience working on CO2 injection flood projects but know they have their own unique problems) they are delusional. Just as a natural gas processing plant has a flare system to handle the inlet stream when there is a plant upset, so to will a CCS plant vent CO2 when that plant has an upset or otherwise down.

    Again, CCS is a terrible idea.

    Don Bennett
    Evanston, WY

  68. Werner Brozek says:

    “Blade says:
    July 16, 2011 at 12:39 am

    G. Karst [July 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm] says:

    “When CO2 is buried, it removes more oxygen than carbon. This oxygen would normally have been freed, when a plant eats the carbon. Removing food (CO2) from the atmosphere removes twice as much oxygen, from the cycle. Inverted smoke stacks… what a concept. GK”

    Okay, that is pretty darn profound. Did the AGW cultists even consider this?”

    At the present time, the oxygen content of dry air is 20.95%. Now let us assume that the CO2 increased by 0.01% in the last 200 years. If all of this ‘extra’ CO2 were to be converted to carbon and oxygen, the oxygen content in dry air would go up to 20.96%. But if all of this extra CO2 were buried, the oxygen content would remain at 20.95%. However burying the CO2 does not really deprive us of the oxygen in it since if left in the air tied up as CO2, we still do not have access to this oxygen. (P.S. I am aware that plants increase photosynthesis with more CO2, but this about the excess CO2 that plants are not able to use.)

  69. Richard S Courtney says:

    cedarhill and Bob Barker:

    cedarhill, you make a good point at July 16, 2011 at 3:05 am when you say;

    “You can buy dry ice starting at one (1) dollar per 10 to 50 pounds which, um, is one pound on CO2. For about 5 million or so, they could have “recovered” the CO2 simply by buying it from dry ice manufacturers. Or a bit over 100 years of “recovery” for the money spent (not counting that had they invested the money and paid with earnings, it would have been until the Sun dies).”

    Yes, and if they dropped the dry ice into deep ocean then it would melt to form a pool of liquid CO2 on the ocean floor (CO2 is liquid at those temperatures and pressures). It would stay there for millenia. I first suggested this method of disposal in the early 1980s when the issues of possible CCS were first requested for consideration by the UK’s Coal Research Establishment where I was employed. It is hard to see any significant environmental effect of, for example, filling the Marianas Trench with such a pool (except that it removes CO2 from use by biota).

    Later we conducted studies on membranes capable of seperating CO2 from power station flue gases. This is difficult to achieve because other substances in flue gases damage the membranes. I then pointed out that it was not necessary to remove the CO2 from the flue gas because obtaining CO2 from any source provides the same result. However, the fear was that legislation could be applied to limit CO2 emissions from power stations, and the purpose of the research was an attempt to prepare for such legislation: the research was not addressed at any real solution to any other potential or real issue (but may provide the possible spin-off of H2 seperation from coal gasifier output),

    Bob Barker, at July 16, 2011 at 7:53 am you suggest;

    “Surely they must have first done an advanced engineering study for a few thousand dollars that told them how risky, inefficient and costly it was going to be…….and then ignored it.”

    I think they “ignored” nothing because I suspect the project was a PR exercise and not a serious engineering proposal which included an intention of implementation: I explain this suspicion in my above post at July 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm.

    Richard

  70. John M says:

    Blade says:
    July 16, 2011 at 12:39 am

    Okay, that is pretty darn profound. Did the AGW cultists even consider this?

    You think you’re kidding.

    Great minds are already working on it.

    Think about that. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have removed .095% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. True, that is only a tenth of one percent of the total supply, but oxygen makes up only 20% of the atmosphere. I looked up safety rules regarding oxygen concentrations and according to OSHA rules on atmospheres in closed environments, “if the oxygen level in such an environment falls below 19.5% it is oxygen deficient, putting occupants of the confined space at risk of losing consciousness and death.” What happens if the world’s atmospheric levels of oxygen fall to 19.5% or lower? Are we all going to have to carry little blue oxygen tanks with us to survive? Not a pleasant possibility.

    http://www.disclose.tv/forum/atmospheric-oxygen-levels-fall-as-carbon-dioxide-rises-t29534.html

  71. John M says:

    Werner Brozek says:
    July 16, 2011 at 8:44 am

    OK, I’ll admit I was being as facetious as the next guy wrt to the problem of “removing” O2 from the atmosphere, but I don’t follow your math (actually, your premise).

    How can any scenario involving burning fossil fuels lead to an increase of O2 in the atmosphere?

  72. Greg McCall says:

    oeman50 and Doug Badgero, thanks for your rational discussion of AEP’s CCS project (I work for AEP).

    I would encourage all to consider that AEP’s “pilot scale” project might have been a pretty wise move – putting real engineering (proving it can be done) and economic analysis in front everyone. AEP has now presented a full “demonstration scale” project to their regulators (a proxy for customers) and the regulators have said they don’t want to spend that much money (a reasonable conclusion).

  73. Colin J Ely says:

    I am told that if you burn .66 tonnes of Carbon in 1.66 tonnes of Oxygen, you get 2.0 tonnes of CO2. So two thirds of what you are sequestering forever is Oxygen. If every Coal fired plant in the world was set up for this, how long would it take to notice a measurable decrease in oxygen levels?
    BTW, didn’t all the scientists and engineers involved in this project do Botany 101 at High School? These things called ‘plants’ have been successfully sequestering CO2 and returning a pointless by-product called ‘Oxygen’ for millennia! It is of note that the brown coal fired generators in Victoria are located in the LaTrobe Valley, the states main vegetable growing area is located downstream of the exhaust plume from the power stations. All that H2O and CO2 coming to ground around the growing vegetables! ;-)

  74. Pyeatte says:

    Typical governmental stupidity – forcing a company to bury plant food.

  75. Hu McCulloch says:

    Doug Badgero says:
    July 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm
    I work for AEP, at their nuclear plant, but speak only for myself.

    They already had a proof of concept CCS system operating on a small portion of Mountaineer’s exhaust, about a 20Mw slipstream I think. It was using about 30% of the slipstream power to power the CCS equipment. Again, 30% of the slipstream value not 30% of total plant output. They were hoping to get down to about 20% parasitic load.
    ….

    Thanks, Doug — I was just going by what I interpreted the article as saying. It does say “Existing carbon-dioxide systems would drain a third of a coal plant’s electricity and double consumers’ bills,” and I had heard a similar 1/3 (or 30%) from an AEP engineer a while back, but this would suggest they were hoping to develop a more efficient procedure in this project.

    You say they’re talking 30% of the slipstream value, not 30% of total plant output. What’s a slipstream?

    Even a 20% parasitic load would mean a 25% increase in cost, before capital costs.

  76. alan france says:

    Most of these solutions seem far too complicated. Just buy lots of dry ice and spread it around.

    Result: Global freezing not Global warming!

  77. Werner Brozek says:

    “John M says:
    July 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

    How can any scenario involving burning fossil fuels lead to an increase of O2 in the atmosphere?”

    I was actually talking about the opposite, namely getting the oxygen back from the CO2 when I said:

    “If all of this ‘extra’ CO2 were to be converted to carbon and oxygen, the oxygen content in dry air would go up to 20.96%.”

    But speaking of dropping oxygen levels as others have done, at what point would fires and stop burning and cars stop running? I would think this would happen much sooner than for human beings to be affected, but I am not sure about this. Granted, a drop of a percent or two of oxygen may mean that no new running records will be set.

  78. MikeinAppalachia says:

    DonS (@3:35 7/15) has this AEP project correct. AEP was getting tremendous pressure from the WV PUCO and its Ohio counterpart to “do something” about the growing “war on coal” from various congress critters and others. The lure of some matching funds made a pre-known failure that much easier. AEP knew up-front what the costs and power penalty would be. I am not an AEP employee and have opposed them in regulatory proceedings on occasion. But they know of what they do.

  79. Doug Badgero says:

    Hu,

    A slipstream is just a portion of another flow stream. For instance, if the full plant stack flow is 1,000,000 pounds per hour (pph) then a 10% slipstream is 100,000 pph. It is just diverting a portion of the stack flow……or some other flow stream. For instance, we frequently use slipstream de-ionizers on condensate flow to cleanup the secondary system prior to plant startup.

  80. Gary Hladik says:

    Werner Brozek says (July 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm): “But speaking of dropping oxygen levels as others have done, at what point would fires and stop burning and cars stop running?”

    Dunno. How high up Mt. Everest do you have to go before fire fizzles (if it does) and people suffocate? IIRC, acclimated experts have climbed Everest without supplemental oxygen.

    Ah, I was right: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/history/firstwoo2.html

  81. Richard S Courtney says:

    Gary Hladik:

    At July 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm you reply to Werner Brozek having asked (at July 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm):
    “But speaking of dropping oxygen levels as others have done, at what point would fires and stop burning and cars stop running?”
    You reply;
    “Dunno. How high up Mt. Everest do you have to go before fire fizzles (if it does) and people suffocate? IIRC, acclimated experts have climbed Everest without supplemental oxygen.”

    With respect, that is not the issue.

    Natural forest fires are burning all the time. They are initiated by natural effects notably lightening. And they are extinguished by e.g. rain.

    The probability of a fire starting increases, and the probability of it being extinguished reduces, as available oxygen increases.

    So, air always contains about 20% oxygen at sea level.
    Much more than ~20% in the air and more oxygen is converted to CO2 by natural fires.
    Much less than ~20% in the air and less oxygen is converted to CO2 by natural fires.

    Richard

    PS I must now leave to fulfil some duties so I am not able to answer any responses to this post until later, probably this evening.

  82. Hu McCulloch says:

    Doug Badgero says:
    July 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    Hu,

    A slipstream is just a portion of another flow stream. For instance, if the full plant stack flow is 1,000,000 pounds per hour (pph) then a 10% slipstream is 100,000 pph. It is just diverting a portion of the stack flow……or some other flow stream. For instance, we frequently use slipstream de-ionizers on condensate flow to cleanup the secondary system prior to plant startup.

    Thanks, Doug, for your expert comments — I see I was misleading to suggest that either the first or second stage would try to capture 100% of the plant’s gross output. In fact the (completed?) first stage only captured a little over 1% of the plant’s gross output, while the (now abandoned) second stage was only intended to capture about 25% of the the gross output. So what I should apparently have said was that the procedure has an energy cost of 1/3 of the gross output captured, and then only under the old technology, 15 or 20% of gross output captured being the goal of the newer technology.

    Is it feasible to capture a fraction approaching 100% of plant output, or does maintaining an updraft require allowing a big fraction like 75% to escape?

    My understanding (from a discussion with an AEP engineer a few years ago) was that the old technology, at least, merely compressed the gas until the CO2 condensed into liquid state, and then forced the liquid down a well, with no use of solvents, etc. But oeman50 (above) states that the old process used monoethanolamine (MEA) solvent, while the new, more efficient technology would use ammonia instead. Does neither process rely on forceable condensation? Do the solvents go down the well along with the CO2? How much energy does it take to manufacture the solvents?

    Also, is the $668 million figure mentioned for the (completed?) phase 1 burying 1% of the output, or for the (now abandoned) phase 2 burying 25% of the output?

    Do you think it is realistic to expect this stuff to stay buried for thousands of years, or will there be CO2 geysers within a few decades or centuries?

  83. Brian H says:

    Since each atom of C burned to make CO2 removes something just over double its mass from the O2 pool, doubling the CO2 fraction of the atmosphere would have double the increase’s amount reducing effect on the O2 supply.
    So let’s do the numbers:
    From .039% to .078% is of course a .039%x2 = .078% (of total atmosphere) drop in O2,
    from 21% to 20.922%.
    It might be detectable. Probably not.

    IOW, this is either a joke issue or more Warmista BS. Probably both.

  84. Brian H says:

    The minute impact of burning on O2 levels brings up an interesting issue that’s been itching at the back of my mind, apparently.

    It’s pretty much agreed that O2 is so reactive that it would vanish in a (geologically) brief period of time if photosynthetic organisms (biota, mostly, though plants make up some of it). So, now that CO2 food levels are so low (.039/20 x 100% = 0.195% of atmospheric oxygen) that establishes a kind of metric for how much “turnover” of CO2 there must be to keep O2 levels stable.

    I don’t know the “no-replacement extinction” rate of O2, but if it were, say, 0.1%/annum that would mean that the CO2 would have to turn over .1/.039 = 2.6x per annum. Which is a lot.

    Anyone have a plausible figure for the O2 extinction rate?

  85. Brian H says:

    Oops, I think I wanted 0.1/0.195 = 0.5. Which may be in the right range, which suggests my WAG of 0.1%/annum O2 extinction rate is also plausible.

  86. beng says:

    One-third of the plant’s 1300MW gross output is required to capture ~1.3% of the carbon? Doesn’t take much math to see that capturing carbon takes more energy than is produced burning it! And the power to capture the carbon comes from — burning carbon! What happened to engineering economics?

    This must be the warmunist’s version of “sustainability”.

  87. beng says:

    OK, my mistake, from some of the comments above it takes about 1/3 power to remove all the CO2 out of a given stream.

    It’s still ridiculous.

  88. G. Karst says:

    When we burn carbon based fuel, we are burning carbon that has been sequestered for millions of years. It was once atmospheric but is now fossil. This is not the case with the oxygen used for combustion. This oxygen comes directly from our current, present atmosphere stock. Sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere will therefore draw down the existing stock of oxygen.

    I admit that atmospheric oxygen is present in much greater volume than CO2, however what we are sequestering is not carbon. It is the vital atmospheric oxygen that is being sequestered and should be referred to as oxygen sequestering… Not carbon! How much actual O2 can safely be sequestered without risk? That is the first question that should have been answered before the first pilot project was put to paper. It is the unintended consequences (rife in such projects) that always seems to bite us in the ass. GK

  89. Doug Badgero says:

    Hu,

    The 660+ million figure is for the 25% of plant power slipstream project. I do not think it was ever credible to sequester our coal plant CO2 effluents in geological formations. My opinion is based on the fact that not all plants are located in a geologically acceptable area and it would not be economic to pipe the CO2 to acceptable areas from those that aren’t well suited to the purpose. To be clear though, I am an engineer by education and a plant operator by experience…..25+ years. However, none of that experience is in coal generation it is all in nuclear. I have just had access to the internal employee communications on this project, but so has every other AEP employee.

    AEP was just doing what is prudent in terms of how to keep using coal in a CO2 constrained world. Anyone who knows anything about power generation knows there was no way we could just “walk away” from coal generation. It is interesting though to consider how a regulated utility makes its money, including AEP in many of its jurisdictions. If you convince the regulator to allow you to deploy capitol, whether it is to produce more power or clean up “pollution”, you are allowed to earn a return on that invested capitol. This creates a perverse incentive to spend more money if the regulator agrees.

  90. you have all been so clever and scientific explaining the stupidity of this…. I have something to make you smile…. this entire Carbon Dioxide Taxation Fiasco needs to be dumped and quickly!
    This is a hoot – tiz ridiculous and about as stupid as the soon to be enforced Carbon Dioxide Tax we are all going to suffer under. Agnes is our Agony Aunt.

    http://justmeint.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/ask-agnes-she-knows-about-carbon-dioxide-taxation/

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