Carbon capture and storage – "We still don't know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale"

An oxyfuel CCS power plant operation filters t...
An oxyfuel CCS power plant operation filters the exhaust fumes so as to make clean CO 2 before it can be stored in an underground layer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the UK Energy Research Centre

Carbon capture and storage — new research from UKERC shows tough road ahead to realize potential

Research highlights key challenges for the government’s new CCS strategy

Government plans to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to reduce carbon emissions received a cautious welcome today. A new report concluded that most of the uncertainties facing these technologies can – in principle – be resolved.

Carbon capture and storage: realising the potential? is the culmination of a two-year project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). The report assesses the technical, economic, financial and social uncertainties facing CCS technologies, and analyses the role they could play in achieving UK energy policy goals. Its publication today follows the announcement earlier this month of a new long-term strategy for CCS by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, including the re-launch of the UK’s £1 billion competition to develop commercial scale CCS projects.

The report’s lead author, Professor Jim Watson, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex says:

‘We still don’t know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale, and whether their costs will be competitive with other low-carbon options. So it is vital that the Government’s commitment to these technologies leads to several full scale CCS projects as soon as possible. Only through such learning by doing will we know whether CCS is a serious option for the future, and how the technical, economic and legal uncertainties currently facing investors can be overcome’

The report draws lessons from history, and concludes that previous technologies have faced similar challenges to those affecting CCS technologies today. In the past, such uncertainties have been resolved sufficiently for these technologies to succeed. While care is needed when learning from history, the findings offer some optimism that, given the right actions by government and industry, the uncertainties surrounding CCS can also be dealt with.

But even if rapid progress is made with the UK’s re-launched demonstration programme, which aims to have CCS plants operational later this decade, difficult choices will remain for government and other decision makers, say the authors. The report identifies four key areas where such choices need to be made:

  • Deciding whether to keep options open, or close them down. The French government focused on one technological variety early on for its nuclear programme. Doing this for CCS may help speed up development, but there is a risk of picking inferior technology. The authors caution that it is too early for government and industry to close down on a particular variant of CCS technology. They welcome the plans for several substantial demonstration projects which will help to identify which variants of CCS technology can be scaled up successfully.
  • Designing financial support for effective CCS demonstration and deployment. A regulatory approach that makes CCS compulsory for all fossil plants will only work if the technology is more advanced, and the additional costs can be passed onto consumers. CCS technologies are not yet at this stage. In the mean time, the government should ensure that industry maximises efficiency and minimises costs of new CCS plants. History shows that not all demonstrations will perform as expected, and government should ensure that lessons are learned from successes and failures.
  • CCS deployment is a marathon, not a sprint. Developing new energy technologies can take a long time, and the process is often far from smooth. The report shows that costs do not necessarily fall in the way supporters hope – and can rise for several years before they come down, as technologies are scaled up. This requires patience. Government also needs to ensure it has an independent capability to assess costs to inform future decisions about whether to continue with public funding for CCS or to divert resources to other low carbon options.
  • Dealing with storage liabilities. The report shows highlights lessons from UK nuclear waste management policy to show how complex liability arrangements for CO2 storage could be. For CCS, a balance needs to be struck between limiting liabilities for investors and protecting the interests of future taxpayers. Agreements will be needed on where this balance should lie, and what arrangements are needed to fund and insure against potential liabilities.

Professor Watson comments:

‘It will be vital to keep options open in the government’s CCS commercialisation programme. Whilst it is welcome that the government has learned from the mistakes of the past, and now plans to support a number of CCS technologies, there is a long way to go before CCS is a reality at full scale. Complex negotiations with industry lie ahead. As the National Audit Office argued recently, such negotiations require substantial capacity and skills within government to bring such negotiations to a successful conclusion.’


Copies of the report (strictly embargoed until 00.01 am on Thursday 19 April) are available for download at The working papers, relating to the historical case studies referred to in the final report, are already available for download on this page, as is a UKERC Policy Insight Paper on carbon capture and storage, offering a summary of the key issues around the technology.

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R Barker
April 18, 2012 8:49 pm

Aside from enormous costs and reduced efficiencies, do these people have any idea of the unintended consequences of what they are trying to do? They are wringing their hands about fracking gas wells but sequestering CO2……..not a problem.

Dave Wendt
April 18, 2012 9:04 pm

They seem to have skipped the first and most important question ie whether this technology, even in the best case senario, has any real possibility of creating more than an unmeasurably miniscule affect on the future climate of the planet. By any reasonable analysis the answer would seem to be definitely not.

Lew Skannen
April 18, 2012 9:04 pm

I am sure there are a lot of engineers who are looking forward to the challenge of overcoming various technical problems by dreaming up ingenious solutions but I interpret one of the statements above as meaning – “lets try a full scale implementation as one of the feasibility tests for full scale implementation”.
A rather expensive and risky way of doing it.
I am reminded of many times in my programming career where I had worked out a clever and elegant solution to a rather fiddly problem only to have someone else remove the entire problem from existence before I had had my chance to shine. Even though the problem had been eliminated I was usually left with a feeling of mild disappointment.
I suspect it is the same with the Carbon Sequestration Gang.

John F. Hultquist
April 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Sounds a bit like “fracking” to me. But there is the geothermal gradient to think of so forcing CO2 underground, thereby warming it, seems to have a “how do you keep it there” issue. Because there is nothing useful to come of CCS – why bother? Huge expense, no benefits = Boondoggle.

William Martin in NZ
April 18, 2012 9:14 pm

And all this for?

April 18, 2012 9:18 pm

The only way nature has found to store carbon is as plant matter, or (by decay and compression) as a fossil fuel. The only way to sequest Carbon from CO2 to produce any stable and storable product is to create pure carbon – a high-thermal input required.
However, you could use unreliable and ad hoc “renewables” to power CO2->Carbon conversion when such power is available, then burn that carbon as needed to provide power on demand.
Just a thought

April 18, 2012 9:27 pm

An obvious symptom of insanity. The money could be better spent on bigger madhouses.

Mike Wryley
April 18, 2012 9:34 pm

Typical central control methodology, expend lots of resources on an unproductive endeavor to remedy a manufactured crisis. The plant kingdom should be outraged.

April 18, 2012 9:39 pm

Well actually we have been injecting CO2 into the ground for years – it’s called enhanced oil recovery when you pump it into an oil bearing formation. Or you can put it down with naturally occurring CO2 reservoirs. Or you can create new storage reservoirs for future use. Will it make a difference? Probably not, but it makes some people feel better about how they spend our money and assuage their guilt about wasting it in other places.

April 18, 2012 9:39 pm

These guys are monumentally STUPID !!
Don’t waste the money on a pointless exercise !!

April 18, 2012 9:49 pm

Wouldn’t giant dehumidifiers be more efficient? After all, water vapor is the real culprit. Can’t tax water vapor and make it a product of evil capitalists, too bad. /sarc

April 18, 2012 9:50 pm

Good to see a discussion of solutions on this site as well as petulant denial that there is anything to solve.

April 18, 2012 9:52 pm

Anybody who is stupid enough to think that they can efficiently and permanently capture and store the quantities of gas that are produced per day is absolutely crazy. Do not go near such a person with any money or even intent to discuss anything. They are idiots and should be ignored and left to breath their storage product in its pure form.
CCS is another crony capitalism scam designed to transfer wealth from the people to the cronies. They know full well it’s an idiot idea.

April 18, 2012 10:07 pm

This is just more confirmation of the now parallel paths of science and policy. Science was hijacked, compromised by all manner of data manglement, then forwarded on by once respected bodies to influence policy. Shades of Galileo and Copernicus after so few centuries of enlightenment. According to the Precautionary Principle Project, a partnership between four international NGOs, “it involves acting to avoid serious or irreversible potential harm, despite lack of scientific certainty as to the likelihood, magnitude, or causation of that harm.”
Has policy been informed of the reversible harm of the next ice age? We lack scientific certainty as to when the present interglacial, the Holocene, will end.
If the heathen devil gas CO2 is really as viable an antibiotic for an ice age as it would surely have to be then wouldn’t the Precautionary Principle mandate writing a prescription for “acting to avoid serious or irreversible potential harm”? Or does the Precautionary Principle advise us to cleanse the blood of climate civilization “despite lack of scientific certainty as to the likelihood, magnitude, or causation of that harm”?
This may be a quandary that will require not one but two ice ages to resolve as we are presently close to the next eccentricity minimum. That being the case would we be unwise to ponder:
“An examination of the fossil record indicates that the key junctures in hominin evolution reported nowadays at 2.6, 1.8 and 1 Ma coincide with 400 kyr eccentricity maxima, which suggests that periods with enhanced speciation and extinction events coincided with periods of maximum climate variability on high moisture levels.”
state Trauth, et al (2009) in Quaternary Science Reviews. The next eccentricity maxima is 200kyrs away. There is just nothing quite like having such a natural fly land in your climate change soup. We may have to evolve ourselves out of this, somehow, in some future some interglacial……..

William Martin in NZ
April 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Hi kiwirob,plz explain what there is to solve.

April 18, 2012 10:32 pm

kiwirob says:
April 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm
Good to see a discussion of solutions on this site as well as petulant denial that there is anything to solve.

As opposed to petulant insistence that a manmade “solution” be implemented to counter a naturally-occurring process?

Ally E.
April 18, 2012 10:34 pm

You know, I’d actually respect a government that admitted to being duped. Yes, I know they are in on it but they must see their votes slipping away. Rather than clinging to the increasingly unstable AGW claim, wouldn’t it be better for them to swing back into favour with the people?
Any President or Prime Minister that decided to give science back to scientists and the money back to the people, and stop this hugely expensive nonsense, would be treated as a hero well into the future. I should have thought that idea would appeal to them.

April 18, 2012 11:07 pm

This problem is well-known to me somehow:
Germany rejects carbon dioxide storage plans. Take a look at the picture. That’s funny, the Greens are against the CCS technology 😆

Brian Johnson uk
April 18, 2012 11:10 pm

More taxpayers money well and truly down the drain. What imbeciles!

April 18, 2012 11:13 pm

I just recently concluded an experiment on the adverse effects of CO2 on human health. The experiment required me to inhale small amounts of CO2 included in the normal air I breath at varying amounts and then to exhale the same CO2 over a period of 46 years. The results have been surprising. CO2 causes no discernible adverse effects for approximately 30 years but then begins to slowly degrade the human body in the following ways: hair loss, weight gain, facial wrinkles, loss of energy, blood serum cholesterol increases, decreased memory function, and creates an overwhelming desire to tell kids to get off of your lawn. CO2 must be stopped! Save the planet! Save yourselves!

April 18, 2012 11:29 pm

Eric says:
April 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm
I just recently concluded an experiment on the adverse effects of CO2 on human health…but then begins to slowly degrade the human body in the following ways: hair loss…

My experiment is still ongoing — no hair loss, but it did turn completely white at age 50, which I interpret as my body’s effort to increase the Earth’s albedo to combat global warming…

April 18, 2012 11:30 pm

Yet again, presumably intelligent boffins, when employed to spend two years of their life looking into some new hare-brained scheme, fail to ask the obvious “what’s the point?” question and fail to note that CCS is obviously, transparently a wheeze to prevent new coal developments going forward and to make conventional energy more expensive that Ruinables.
And yet again their prescription is for spending more money and doing more research to get them another couple of years closer to retirement.
My favourite bit?
“In the mean time, the government should ensure that industry maximises efficiency and minimises costs of new CCS plants.”
But not, of course, to “ensure that industry maximises efficiency and minimises costs” of power generation!
No, No! What an appaling idea! That would NEVER do!

April 18, 2012 11:31 pm

“that Ruinables” = than Ruinables.

William Martin in NZ
April 18, 2012 11:45 pm

Hi Eric,wait till your as old as me.I have been breathing this poison for 20 yrs more than you.But I need more time to discern if is the co2 or the low temps we have here in NZ.I have also noticed a change in my sex drive,but I have attributed that to worrying about polar bear numbers as opposed to the job in hand.(pun intended)I do have a bit of a guts,but you don’t drive a 4 inch nail in with a tack hammer.Keep smiling,cheers from NZ

Gary Pate
April 18, 2012 11:50 pm

Wouldn’t the accomplish just as much and waste less money if they just paid people to dig holes & fill them back in?

April 18, 2012 11:51 pm

Let’s just change all municipal drinking water to soda water. There! Problem solved! 🙂
OK – this is really stupid, kind of like saying “the science is settled”.
If you have a very large source of CO2, like a hydrogen plant, it produces almost-pure CO2 as a by-product. Just capturing and compressing the CO2 costs about $150 per Tonne according to studies I’ve seen. Transporting the CO2 to a depleted oilfield or other disposal site and pumping it down the hole into a permeable formation would cost considerably more. I’ve also seen lower numbers quoted, totaling as low as $60 per Tonne, but wonder if they are current or credible.
Before the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) CO2-offset market collapsed, you could buy CO2 credits for 5-10 cents per Tonne. Does anyone else see a mismatch here?
There may be a market for some CO2 in enhanced recovery from depleted oilfields. Other than that, it’s just a huge cost that could easily double your electric power bill – unless my brilliant idea of carbonated municipal drinking water really takes off.

April 18, 2012 11:52 pm

Carbon dioxide is released when we burn stuff. Now we are going to burn more stuff to ‘purify’ the carbon dioxide before we bury it. However inefficient the first burning was, the second burning will square it!

April 18, 2012 11:55 pm

Ya know, there’s a very cheap and efficient carbon sequestration system already available. It is called the atmosphere. Sure, some of it leaches out into the biosphere and causes increased crop yields, but we can balance that by planting less crops. Well, that would leave things like forests growing faster, but we could easily chop them down faster if we wanted. Put a subsidy on house building using wood and problem solved.

Steve C
April 19, 2012 12:23 am

If a thing’s not worth doing at all, it’s not worth doing however well. CCS is the perfect example.

April 19, 2012 12:32 am

Andi Cockroft says:
April 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm
“However, you could use unreliable and ad hoc “renewables” to power CO2->Carbon conversion when such power is available, then burn that carbon as needed to provide power on demand. ”
This German company turns wind/solar power into Methane and builds a pilot plant for Audi, to be ready in 2013.
Don’t know about the economics.

Rhoda R
April 19, 2012 12:43 am

Adding to the cost would be the necessity of designing (engineering) leak proof containment to prevent CO2 seeping out and smothering everything around.

Brian H
April 19, 2012 12:48 am

Every cent spent on CCS increases the costs of energy generation. Which is the real goal.
Bill Tuttle;
We’re offsetting opposites. My hair thinned by age 40, but I have no grey or white hair at age 65 (other than facial hair, which is optional).

April 19, 2012 1:07 am

DirkH says: April 19, 2012 at 12:32 am
This German company turns wind/solar power into Methane and builds a pilot plant for Audi, to be ready in 2013.
Don’t know about the economics.
Interesting scheme, but I suggest the economics will be quite unattractive.
Economics will improve (but still could remain unattractive) if you give zero value to the wind power, which is actually just about what it is worth.

April 19, 2012 1:19 am

Pumping CO2 into oil and gas wells under the sea is illegal under international law: essentially dumping toxic waste (well, the greenies think CO2 is toxic!) at sea.
Then of course the CO2 will come back out again. Ships tend to sink if they try to float in soda water!

April 19, 2012 1:26 am

Brian — my old battalion’s Sergeant-Major used to say, “Better gray than nay” — but he shaved his head, nonetheless…

Peter Miller
April 19, 2012 1:26 am

It has all already been said here.
So I will just summarise:
Category: Goofy, greenie ideas,
Sub Category: Pointless, expensive, stupid and impractical.
Prize: First

wayne Job
April 19, 2012 1:28 am

The crops in the northern hemisphere over the coming decades may be depleted badly over the coming decades by some cooler weather. Now is the time to grow hugely excessive crops of barley and hops.
This would achieve many goals even green ones. Beer in those cold decades will become a luxury unless we brew it now, for massive carbon capture and storage. The need for huge quantities of stainless steel containers would ensure mining and manufacturing jobs.
The brewers would qualify for huge subsidies in carbon capture and would run at a profit without selling beer. This is a win win situation, the beer sold in the future decades would ensure some huge profits. A beer futures prospectus will be available soon.

Garry Stotel
April 19, 2012 1:42 am

I was goint to say that we need’nt worry, because this nonsense will never work.
But then I thought that it is not the point – the point is money and power appropriation, by using some scientifically sounding excuse. So, yes, I feel sorry for the £1Bn totally wasted.

April 19, 2012 1:51 am

Perhaps we can inject waste co2 into fraccing wells….

April 19, 2012 1:57 am

I must admit that when out in the surf, there certainly seems to be a LOT less oxygen than when I was younger..
As I’m still in peak condition (lol) the increase in CO2 can be the only explanation !!
Wish I was a plant, then I’d be really happy !!
Real environmentalists LUV CO2 because they know it does only good !!!

April 19, 2012 2:10 am

An extraordinary popular delusion is further fuelled.

April 19, 2012 2:33 am

CCS is right up there with geoengineering for its stark-raving insanity.

Brian H
April 19, 2012 2:35 am

I wasn’t clear; I still have hair, just thinned somewhat. No areas of “nay”. Whiskers are a mix of dark, grey, and white; I’m currently showing them, though the dramatic effect that has on people’s assumptions about my degree of elderhood may cause me to go bareface again soon ….

old construction worker
April 19, 2012 2:41 am

We have a CCS process. The technology has been around for years. If you want to buy a bottle of co2 just go to your local hardware store. They are available in 10lb, 15lb and 20lb containers. They are red with a black handle and hose. They are called a ABC Fire Extinguisher.
Picture this: next to a coal fired power plant build a huge plant pulling co2 out of the atmosphere, storing it in a huge red container with a black handle with a hose going underground. While we are at it. The Governments/UN, in all its wisdom, could mandate that everyone on the planet carry a 15lb Fire Extinguisher at all times. All new and remodeled buildings must have a 1000lb Co2 fire extinguisher system for every 1000 cubic ft of area. All paid for by the taxpayer creating useless jobs for a useless problem.

Robert S
April 19, 2012 3:03 am

Combustion of pulverised fuel (coal) in oxygen would lead to a reduced flue gas flow and booster/compressor power consumption but would lead to very high flame temperatures in the combustion zone. The boiler tubes and refractories would have be special to deal with the high heat flux. Clearly CCS would not just be a booster bolt on to a conventional boiler plant but would require a completely new steam generation system. The power consumed transporting the CO2 enhanced flue gas to storage beneath the seabed and in separating N2 from air initially would still be very high probably requiring the output from an additional power station and so on ad infinitum. As CO2 does not cause global warming the whole excercise is completely unnecessary.

dave ward
April 19, 2012 3:06 am

“And the additional costs can be passed onto consumers”
Tells you all you need to know…

Lord Haw Haw
April 19, 2012 3:13 am

plant a f*ckin tree

Pete in Cumbria UK
April 19, 2012 3:49 am

Going on from Lord Haw Haw at 3:13, seriously, grow stuff (anything), turn it into charcoal and give it to the farmers. Once they get the hang of it they might even buy it. Farmers being farmers tho, that is of course very doubtful ;-D
Look up ‘biochar’ – its a win win win, except for university types and other rent seekers simply because it is so lo-tech.

April 19, 2012 3:49 am

Carbon capture is a great way to waste fuel and thereby drive prices up in an already strained market. Hopefully the economic damage is not severe enough to prevent an adequate response to natural disasters in the future.

Mike M
April 19, 2012 3:49 am

Eric says: April 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm
I just recently concluded an experiment on the adverse effects of CO2 on human health…but then begins to slowly degrade the human body in the following ways: hair loss…

I’ve concluded that I’ve had no actual hair loss but that increased CO2 has merely caused it to grow backwards into my brain and out my ears and nose. It explains everything including memory loss and a substantial discount at the barber shop…

April 19, 2012 3:55 am

Simple. Build dry ice plants. Build hydrolosis plants by the dry ice plants. Build nuke power plant next to them and simply recycle the CO2 into pure gasoline. Give a discount to Sierra Club members and for anyone owning, running or having stock in the soon to be banned windmill bird-o-chop-o-matic.
Oh, and can make methane and diesel and other hydros as well.
And let the Sierra Club and all the greenies pay for at by using the “Mann Rule” of taxing any greenie at 99%. Somehow the math just works out so nicely.

Billy Liar
April 19, 2012 4:05 am

The report draws lessons from history, and concludes that previous technologies have faced similar challenges to those affecting CCS technologies today. In the past, such uncertainties have been resolved sufficiently for these technologies to succeed.
Unfortunately, their review of historical analogues failed to consider the defining characteristic of CCS of adding a gross inefficiency to a process. Kinda like always driving your car with a trailer containing 2 tons of rocks.
Can anyone name a ‘technology’ that ‘succeeded’ by making a process grossly inefficient?
Professor Jim watson, the floor is yours …

Robert of Ottawa
April 19, 2012 4:06 am

I like the caption of the diagram – “clean CO2”. Also, the enviromentalists are opposed to fracking but all in favor of stuffing a useful gas underground. What’s the diff?

April 19, 2012 4:20 am

John F. Hultquist says:
April 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm
But it demonstrates how deeply they care! Oh, the HUMANITY!!!

Alberta Slim
April 19, 2012 4:24 am

Correct me if i’m wrong, but is it not true that soda pop and soda water give off the CO2 when the can is opened? The pop goes flat because the CO2 is back in the atmosphere.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi should set up plants near the Carbon emission offenders, and make pop. Then store this pop in warehouses. After nature has proven that CO2 has not caused global warming/climate change, and the Alarmists have finally been shut up, Coke and Pepsi can be distrubted to everyone. I care about my grandchildren — free pop. /sarc off

Richard S Courtney
April 19, 2012 4:56 am

If CCS were wanted (n.b. it is pointless and costly) then the cheapest method is to process flue gas as follows.
freeze the CO2 to become blocks of ‘dry ice’ (this would fractionate the CO2 from the N2),
transport the solid ‘dry ice’ to the sea
drop the ‘dry ice’ into the deep ocean (Marianas Trench?)
The ‘dry ice’ would sink to the bottom, melt to liquid CO2 (yes, liquid at that pressure), then remain as a pool of liquid on the ocean floor for millenia.
Some CO2 would be lost from the blocks of ‘dry ice’ during transportation and while sinking to ocean bottom. We tested this by putting blocks of ‘dry ice’ in an open tank of water. An insulating layer of water ice formed over the blocks and they lasted for weeks.

April 19, 2012 5:04 am

Just as in golf, there’s something else that goes into that hole in the ground besides the ball (or CO2 in this case)…it’s your money.

April 19, 2012 5:32 am

Something in there about ‘learning from history…’
Ah – that would be the lessons learnt from our ancestors abandoning wind power to grind corn and drain fens – because its – er – intermittent….
Oh – wind is different now..? Who knew..??

Geoff Sherrington
April 19, 2012 5:41 am

If CCS had a chance of turning a good quid, industry would have developed it by now. Government agencies seldom develop anything except a thirst for funds ander the excuse of the misnomered Precautionary Principle. Put it in private enterprise and watch the profit motive work the same magic it has for centuries.

Navy Bob
April 19, 2012 5:48 am

“The French government focused on one technological variety early on for its nuclear programme.” Pourquoi? Do French reactors produce CO2?

April 19, 2012 6:07 am

There’s a much easier way of sequestering carbon–simply bury old newpapers in landfills, where they will keep almost indefinitely since newspaper doesn’t decompose (digging into old landfills finds newspapers 100+ years old that are still easily readable).
An average yearly newspaper subscription received every day produces about 550 pounds of waste paper every year. (The average New York Times Sunday edition produces 8 million pounds of waster paper on each and every Sunday!)
It doesn’t take fancy or expensive equipment to sequester all that carbon that’s headed for the landfill anyway. (Although as a CO2 aficionado, I’d rather see it burned to replenish and enhance the CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but then I’m just some weird biosphere-loving human, whereas these people apparently are not.)

April 19, 2012 6:25 am

Any energy we obtain by producing CO2 is solar by origin – stored in complicated carbon structures by ancient organisms. To safely store CO2 produced, our only option is to use solar energy yet again – either by feeding that CO2 to photosynthesizing bacteria or plants, or by technical methods based on similar principle. Any other approach is futile because to store CO2 safely we need more energy than how much we obtained by producing it.

Berényi Péter
April 19, 2012 6:55 am

There’s an extremely simple solution to this problem. One only needs an unlimited supply of soda lime. Oh, wait.

Bruce Cobb
April 19, 2012 7:22 am

“We still don’t know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale, and whether their costs will be competitive with other low-carbon options.”
Watson should rest easy. Undoubtedly, CCS will be equally effective in flushing money down the loo as are other “low-carbon options” to fixing a non-problem.

April 19, 2012 7:23 am

Coke, Pepsi and my personal favorites Diet 7-up and Diet Dr. Pepper contain a lot of CO2. I can see a new super bowl ad (in 2020) by the carbonated beverage association. “Drink more soda, the carbonation in your refreshment is sourced from your local power plant.”

Jim Clarke
April 19, 2012 8:03 am

I think I will just adapt, thank you. Now…can I have my money back?

Owen in GA
April 19, 2012 8:07 am

If they are not using some chemical process to change the CO2 into something else there is the unfortunate problem that at any time a lethal CO2 geyser may spout at the containment site killing everything in the immediate area. Creating very large concentrations of CO2 in an area where there are things that can’t live in high CO2 concentrations can be dangerous. They think that if they pump it into the ground it will stay there? Residents around several deep lakes with CO2 pools at the bottom might be able to show the results of the CO2 overturning and killing – except no one survives when it happens except those lucky enough to not be in the area at the time, of course they return home to the sad task of burying their loved ones!
Of course if the abiotic oil theory has any merit, they may be producing future Oil or Natural Gas pockets for future generations. (If they don’t kill everyone in the area first!)

R. de Haan
April 19, 2012 8:10 am

And so the UK is moving closer to the edge…..
The world worried about the wrong currency to fail?

April 19, 2012 8:22 am

I strongly support research into CCS and especially DCCS, but not commercialization at this stage because:
1) Obviously, we don’t know yet if we will ever need to actually do it on a large scale. CO2 may not cause much climate change and does help plant growth.
2) If we do need to actually do it, the cost equation should not compare DCCS with reducing CO2 emissions from current levels by 20% – that might be relatively cheap. The comparision should be made with the cost of reducing from 40% of current levels (following a 60% reduction) to 17% of current levels (going from 60% to 83% reduction). That’s going to be really expensive – so that’s when we would be really, really interested in DCCS, even at a high cost.
I don’t believe DCCS is cost effective now, and we may never need it. But if humanity does decide to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels, the arguments reverse themselves – DCCS will be absolutely essential, and the cheaper and more scalable the better.
Consequently, I don’t see why ANYONE would oppose a large R+D program to get good at DCCS.

G. Karst
April 19, 2012 8:47 am

Nothing disturbs me as much as such talk. Extremely dangerous engineering descibed as a viable and desirable project. And what specific condition exists in the world, that woud justify such reckless engineering? What events are happening, which would cause an insane world to percieve an emergency, so great that we would roll such dice? Where is the emergency?? GK

Mike M
April 19, 2012 10:56 am

PeterGeorge says: Consequently, I don’t see why ANYONE would oppose a large R+D program to get good at DCCS.

I don’t see why ANYONE would want to pay for it….
As long as tax payers are not forced to pay for it through government handouts/programs then I don’t care what you do. Simply find PRIVATE investors willing to cough up large sums of cash to develop the idea in case we need it ~someday~. Although there don’t seem to be many investors interested in carbon credits perhaps you will have better luck convincing them of the future pay-off for CCS?
(Advice – Don’t disclose that earth is currently back to the same temperature it was 30 years ago or they might think like me and hang on to their wallets.)

Richard G
April 19, 2012 11:28 am

CCS has got to be one of the stupidest ideas ever proposed by smart people, in public.
CO2 is the life blood of the biosphere. Hmmm, if the planet is running a “fever”, let’s bleed it out. It worked well for George Washington didn’t it?
A 200 year old throwback to the Four Humours of disease theory….. Forward into the past.

Dave Dodd
April 19, 2012 11:33 am

Are these greenie weenies aware that the nicely frozen veggies they harvest at their local WalMart were frozen using CO2 as an “expendable” refrigerant? Also poultry, pork chops, etc., etc. Or is that “clean and green CO2”?
P.S. Please don’;t call it “fracking”. That term, although having come from within the gas industry, has been jumped on by the Leftie wackos because of nearly sounding like the other “f” word. Hydraulic fracturing has a much nicer (and technically correct) sound!

April 19, 2012 12:43 pm

The LNG industry is *already* implementing CCS on a commercial scale. It seems to have gone generally unnoticed, probably because it doesn’t involve government funding or coal-fired power plants. But the technology is actually pretty mature.

Barbara Skolaut
April 19, 2012 1:00 pm

“We still don’t know when CCS technologies will be technically proven at full scale”
Howzabout NEVER?

April 19, 2012 1:05 pm

Spend the £billion on glass houses and pump the CO2 into them, should solve the food shortage problem.

Dan in California
April 19, 2012 1:44 pm

PeterGeorge says: April 19, 2012 at 8:22 am
Consequently, I don’t see why ANYONE would oppose a large R+D program to get good at DCCS.
1) Because the alternatives are cheaper. A typical coal fired power plant produces 20,000 tons/day CO2. Sequestering that amount is a huge engineering project for EACH power plant. Nuke power plants emit no CO2. Build them instead of fossil burners.
2) Because the unintended consequences may be catastrophic. Hiding 20,000 tons/day at hundreds of locations is asking for a “Denver is Missing” disaster.
3) Because that research money can be better spent on things that are actually desirable. Or useful. Or help fight actual pollution.
I also have a point of clarification. CO2 sequestration does not include CO2 concentration from the atmosphere. It deals with capturing CO2 at the sites where it is released (power plants). Adding concentration facilities would add another large factor to the cost. A CO2 scrubber/stripper as used in a nuke submarine is neither cheap to build nor operate.

April 19, 2012 2:38 pm

You are not asking the magic question. For any CCS system, what is it’s Energy Returned On Energy Invested? If it is <1, then it is unsustainable (ie: more CO2 emissions will be generated designing, erecting, operating, maintaining, and decommisioning the CSS than the CO2 emissions it is supposed to be imprisioning).
CCS, like solar and wind alternative energies, is a joke! They are unsustainable!

April 19, 2012 2:58 pm

Setting aside the obvious question of wither CO2 emissions should be regulated at all, the report does provide a fairly balanced and candid picture of the challenges facing those tasked with developing CCS. Generally, a far more professional job than typically produced by the DOE and other U.S. agencies.
One of the few areas where I think the authors under-emphasized the financial risks involved was a too common assumption that power-plant-derived carbon dioxide can successfully be injected into the vast array of “potential” storage formations identified and/or injected in the amounts needed per well to be commercially viable.
To date, most attempts to inject power-derived CO2 into major U.S. brine formations have failed. The story has been same across these non-oil bearing formations… well pluggage within a short time of injection. I suspect issues with oxygen content (suspected of inducing biological activity down-hole), trace chemical side reactions, and particulate issues; but, that’s a story for another day.
Limited success has been achieved in existing/abandoned oil formations; where both formation porosity and permeability are high and where residual oil soaks up CO2. However most folks don’t know that many of these are Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) “huff-and-puff” projects. Meaning CO2 is injected, held for roughly two weeks, and then released with the oil back-flow. While some of the CO2 is stored it’s certainly not 100% and data indicating how much CO2 is retained is scarce and not well advertised/documented.
Usually you see an assumption of approximately 0.26 tons of CO2 stored per barrel of oil recovered with no accompanied indication of how much CO2 was injected in the first place. A good rule of thumb is you can expect to have to recycle 80% of the CO2 injected from a formation. The remaining 20% is “lost”; but I have not seen any estimates of how much of this is “loss” to the atmosphere (via equipment losses/leakage) verses how much is actually ends up “stored” in the formations. But…. I’m getting way off message.
The short version is that to PAY for CCS; the report proposes the British Government should: 1) subside “low carbon” via the EMR package (i.e., subsidize “preferred” electrical production methods), 2) re-write the Climate Change Levy to set a floor price of CO2 allowances to 15.70 pounds per ton starting in 2013 (rising again in 2020 and 2030), 3) set an emissions limit of 450 gCO2/KWh on all new fossil plants (A level that allowing natural gas units to emit scot-free – no pun intended), and 4) subsidize R&D for CCS and renewables. See pages 9-10 of the report.

April 19, 2012 3:53 pm

Andi Cockroft says:
April 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm
. The only way to sequest Carbon from CO2 to produce any stable and storable product is to create pure carbon

And if you take that one step further to the crystalline form of carbon then you can sell it on the open market – put De Boers out of business, make a lot of women happy and get your money back in no time. Simples!

Gail Combs
April 19, 2012 4:11 pm

If the want to get rid of CO2 pipe it into green houses not underground.

Werner Brozek
April 19, 2012 5:50 pm

Alberta (home of the tar sands) is going to the polls Monday, April 23 and the leader who just might upset the ruling conservatives has this to say about carbon capture:
“Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith put a bull’s-eye on the province’s controversial carbon capture and storage program Tuesday, suggesting she’s prepared tear up nearly $1.6 billion in related contracts with industry.”
Read more:

Werner Brozek
April 19, 2012 5:52 pm

A billion dollars for 1/10,000 of a degree?
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 3.000 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, let us assume 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 have the same temperature and one city will be 1 degree C colder if a billion dollars is spent.

April 19, 2012 6:53 pm

Power station manufacturers are all very happy indeed to build in a CCS. I’ve seen their pamphlets.
They don’t give a damn whether its useful, successful, or cost effective. These guys are the quintessential tailors.

April 20, 2012 12:52 pm

When the dangers of global cooling are understood, will they call for carbon release?

Brian H
April 21, 2012 2:56 am

Negative carbon credits; that’s the ticket! Subsidize CO2 production and liberation.
See, the flora are attempting to commit suicide by famine from eating all the CO2, and we have to fight back. Unfortunately, this will result in more flora-proliferation, but it’s a neverending battle …

Gary Pearse
April 21, 2012 6:43 am

“■Dealing with storage liabilities. The report shows highlights lessons from UK nuclear waste management policy to show how complex liability arrangements for CO2 storage could be. For CCS, a balance needs to be struck between limiting liabilities for investors and protecting the interests of future taxpayers.”
Wow, in their “liabilities” they are worried only about how to make the costs equitable and are ignoring the probability of creating a major physical disaster – leakage to the surface of CO2 under high pressure. Even fresh granite has a permeability, albeit low (0.1% to 1% of that of limestone) and old granite greater because of fractures. We already had some farm animals killed in a Saskatchewan experiment:
Carbonated water from the experiment bubbling out of the ground caused CO2 (a heavy gas) to collect in the low ground of a quarry, suffocating farm animals. This idea in Scotland must’ve have been planned by Highlanders!

April 22, 2012 5:21 pm

Do they not teach basic chemistry in the UK??? Can anyone that seriously considers this poissible have any scientific knowledge at all?
Coal is mostly Carbon (atomic weight 12), CO2 is one carbon atom (Atomic weight 12) and two Oxygen atoms (Atomic weight 16) for a combined molecular weight of 44. If you live near a coal plant watch and count the train loads of coal going into the plant, usually about one a day with 75 to 100 cars. Look at the side of the railcars for the “Net” weight, usually about 100 tons. The average plant will burn about one trainload a day. Do the math, 75 X 100 times 3 ( you need to multiply by three because the CO2 will weigh 3 times as much as the Coal burnt, actual it is 3.667 but lets assume the coal has impurities that do not get burnt and are left as ash.)
That means there will be three trains of railcars, considering weight only, hauling “captured” CO2 out of the plant – EVERY DAY. I will leave it to the astute readers to calculate how much volume this CO2 will take up. I would guess, that at the present technology, that it would be impossible to compress the CO2 to a high enough pressure to reduce the volume to less than ten times that of the original Carbon – Coal. Now throw in all of the added CO2 generated to do all of the work to do all of this. In other words this idea is well beyond being absurd, it borders on impossible.
And this only assumes that you capture the CO2 as a gas. Some of these stupid ideas want to capture it with other minerals and compounds – dumber yet, as there are that many more things to haul! These may work on a small scale in the laboratory, but will never work in the real world. Or is this where all of those GREEN JOBS I hear about are coming from?

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