Biochar: The Sequestration Technology for Carbon Prices above $400 / ton

Our future if Carbon Prices hit $400+ / ton

Our future if Carbon Prices hit $400+ / ton

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

If you thought the planned Canadian $50 / ton for carbon will be painful, a study published in Nature explores optimal carbon sequestration technologies at various much higher carbon price points. It concludes conventional carbon sequestration – burying CO2 in a disused gas well – offers poor returns below $1000 / ton. Below $400 / ton your only hope of making profit is to burn biomass to ash (and claim the carbon you burn is renewable). But at $400 / ton, Biochar – burying residual charcoal after volatiles are extracted and burned – is the technology of choice.

Optimal bioenergy power generation for climate change mitigation with or without carbon sequestration

Restricting global warming below 2 °C to avoid catastrophic climate change will require atmospheric carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Current integrated assessment models (IAMs) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios assume that CDR within the energy sector would be delivered using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Although bioenergy-biochar systems (BEBCS) can also deliver CDR, they are not included in any IPCC scenario. Here we show that despite BECCS offering twice the carbon sequestration and bioenergy per unit biomass, BEBCS may allow earlier deployment of CDR at lower carbon prices when long-term improvements in soil fertility offset biochar production costs. At carbon prices above $1,000 Mg−1 C, BECCS is most frequently (P>0.45, calculated as the fraction of Monte Carlo simulations in which BECCS is the most cost effective) the most economic biomass technology for climate-change mitigation. At carbon prices below $1,000 Mg−1 C, BEBCS is the most cost-effective technology only where biochar significantly improves agricultural yields, with pure bioenergy systems being otherwise preferred.

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Can you imagine a world where carbon is priced above $1000 / ton? People would be selling the bodies of their dead relatives to help cover funeral costs. No home would be able to afford heating, unless your rooftop solar array was having a good day. Yet this is the world government policy planners are embracing as a future goal.

Environmental planners are well aware that double digit carbon pricing, say the Canadian $50 / ton, isn’t really going to make that much difference. People will simply swallow the pain and keep driving their cars.

But $50 / ton creates acceptance of the new tax, just as the original small income tax in Britain, to pay for British intervention in France, acclimatised people to the concept of paying part of their income to the government.

In America’s case, paying for the Civil War was the original excuse for an income tax – until the 16th Amendment enshrined the right to gather the new income tax into the American Constitution.

At $400 / ton, or $1000 / ton, or more, which is where carbon pricing is heading if greens get their way, the pain really kicks in. People would have to give up home heating and driving. Everything will become hideously expensive. The modern world will be swept aside, and replaced by the destitution and hardship our ancestors experienced.

But by then, we’ll probably have a new amendment to the US constitution, and the painful new Carbon tax will be with us for always.


106 thoughts on “Biochar: The Sequestration Technology for Carbon Prices above $400 / ton

      • If some stack of filters can accumulate a higher energy density on the side away from the source like the GHG paradigm asserts ( with no equations nor experimental demonstration ) then we have the makings that perpetual heat engine .

      • “… like the GHG paradigm asserts ”

        And what is your assertion about what this GHG paradigm asserts based on?

        Sounds like more Cottonite 2nd law BS you implying without actually saying anything meaningful which can checked or refuted.

      • One popular GHE theory power flux balance (“Atmospheric Moisture…. Trenberth et al 2011jcli24 Figure 10) has a spontaneous perpetual loop (333 W/m^2) flowing from cold to hot violating three fundamental thermodynamic laws. (1. Spontaneous energy out of nowhere, 2. perpetual loop w/o work, 3. cold to hot w/o work, 4. doesn’t matter because what’s in the system stays in the system) Physics must be optional for “climate” science. What really counts is the net W/m^2 balance at ToA which 7 out of 8 re-analyses included in the above cited paper concluded the atmosphere was cooling, not warming (+/- 12.3 W/m^2). Of course Dr. Trenberth says they are wrong because their cooling results are not confirmed by his predicted warming, which hasn’t happened for twenty years. (“All of the net TOA imbalances are not tenable and all except CFSR imply a cooling of the planet that clearly has not occurred.”)

    • You are precisely correct. Everything “green/AGW” is aimed at population reduction to a level consistent with the elite preference of 750 million +/-. You will starve and freeze in the dark, and your bodies will be converted into someone else’s wealth. When they reach their population goal, there “may” be some sort of effort made to accommodate the working class, but not enough to encourage population growth.

      • Tom O commented: “….When they reach their population goal, there “may” be some sort of effort made to accommodate the working class, but not enough to encourage population growth…..”

        They’ll never make that goal because there won’t be enough “working class” to support the elite class and themselves There won’t be any ‘other people’s money’ remaining after the revolutions.

      • @markl – you are right on point. It’s like every belief and goal progressives have. It is costly and it never works out. At some point the cost will have to be in human lives and the the solution will be to cut these people out of the human race like a cancer. The destruction of the American way of life will be inevitable because progressives have had free rein for too long in this country.

        And I doubt Eric Worrall is satisfied about what he is writing.

      • Maybe they could be used to generate electricity in Oregon where they were reportedly burning aborted Canadian babies for this purpose. The percentage of electricity per burned body will be greatly higher. It will make the whole process more efficient. Britain could be an alternate site for the same reason.

    • The obsession with carbon is an example of massive pure genetic retardation. Rebel against this junk at every turn as we creep towards “Idiocracy”.

    • I do not understand the negative reaction to this proposal . If the Guardian article is correct( see below for an extract) then it means a reduction in the increase of CO2 by methods which do not involve extortionate taxes, millions of wind turbines or the destruction of rainforest to produce biofuel.

      “The “4 per 1000” project is a pledge to reduce the amount of carbon leaked from soils by 0.4% a year, which would be enough to halt the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the air. Nearly 180 countries have signed up to the initiative that was set up by the French government as part of its efforts to make the Paris agreement on climate change, signed last year, a success.—
      The 4 per 1000 initiative does not require farmers to adopt organic methods, but does encourage more attention to farming techniques, which are currently contributing to the erosion of soils around the world.
      The prince said this project could “make a remarkable contribution to the wellbeing, livelihoods, food security and resilience of farmers, to the health of the planet and to addressing climate change”.”

      What is not to like ?

      • Given the beneficial effect of atmospheric CO2 on the greening of the planet, I would say that paying even one penny to curtail CO2 emissions is not to like.

      • 0.4% from ALL soils? You have to be kidding. And that is supposed to overcome all of the contribution the rising coal generation of both China and India? Are they included in this effort? This sounds like one of those Project with just an eensy-weensy .0.004 decrease in carbon that actually disrupts our entire agricultural system. Who really needs food?

      • Yes planting trees is an obvious solution for multiple reasons…stores carbon, looks great, provides wildlife habitat, increases human amenity, provides timber and wood fuel.

      • It would seem that nature is doing a pretty good job of growing trees and other plants without our aid. We just need to quite harassing him/her and get out of the way. Leave CO2 levels alone.

  1. There was no income tax in the US until after the constitution was amended to help pay for WW1.
    There will be no carbon tax in the US until Dems capture both House and Senate, and perhaps not even then because of Dems in coal country.
    Nature articles fantasizing about the most ‘cost effective’ way to meet carbon taxes are just that, fantacies about fantacies.

    • There was an income tax during the Civil War and again in the 1890’s. The latter was invalidated by the Pollock decision. Hence the 16th Amendment before the current income tax could be implemented.

      • When they were debating the 16th ammd (one of the two biggest mistakes this country ever made), one Senator proposed capping it at 5% in the language of the ammd. Another Senator responded something on the lines of “Good gods no, if we do that some fool will want to raise it that high.”

      • When first proposed, the tax was low, and the threshold was so high that only a few hundred people in New York and California would have to pay for it.
        Most states that supported it, actually thought their citizens would never have to pay it.

      • Budgets prior were largely funded by alcohol sales, but prohibition was not feasible until other revenue was available.

    • It’s a stealth tax. Here in The UK a typical ‘minimum wage’ worker will spend a couple of days or more per (5 day) working week to pay tax.

      A carbon tax will add another day to that.

      Before long your entire working life will be there to pay tax and you know what such a system is called?

      • In the U.S. a minimum wage worker gets free medical insurance and food stamps. They will not meet the threshold for paying any tax if they have a child and that child is guaranteed medical and dental treatment. The family will also get more food stamp money. All of these people trying to pump up the minimum wage to levels like $15 US will have those benefits lowered or cut altogether. Something they don’t seem to be smart enough to realize.

  2. More geoengineering nonsense. The best use of trees is for lumber and/or paper products. Using them for bioenergy plants and CCS schemes is stupid, costly, and environmentally unsustainable.

  3. $400.00 per ton to sequester carbon dioxide for the purpose of accomplishing absolutely nothing useful? Sounds like your typical government boondoggle to me. Full speed ahead if the Hildabeast takes over for B Hussein Obama. God help us!

  4. We have an avid recycling culture in our province where we dutifully separate out glass, plastics paper and cardboard and leave it on the curb side every fortnight. Apparently they take the recycling and use it as fuel in the high temperature furnace in a nearby pulp mill. This green scheme of course recycles the CO2 right back into the atmosphere. It seems to me that we could cut out the middlemen in carbon capture and sequestration and bulldoze the carbonaceous debris directly into local landfills no need for biochar, deep wells, $400/ton. … or am I missing something? Hypocrisy perhaps.

    • Yeah, you’re missing the money part. These people don’t really care about biochar or changing the weather, they want your money. That’s what demonizing carbon is really about, it’s about taking your wealth and controlling your life.

  5. In most developed economies tax is paid based mainly on a mixture of income and consumption. The tax raised is used to cover government expenditure which varies from country to country – defence, education, health, law and order, pensions etc.

    The current incidence of tax influences individual behaviours. If we postulate that carbon taxes are introduced over a period, and other taxes reduced accordingly (possibly a naive assumption), the total tax burden will not change.

    The issues arising from such a policy would relate to the impact on economic growth, the way it impacts different individuals, the motivation for work, leisure activities indulged, diet etc etc – hugely complex but not inevitably negative.

    Rapid implementation of these policies would be massively destabilising, but over a few decades the consequences may simply become the new norm. Of course it could all be a conspiracy ………..

  6. The Liberals will price themselves into oblivion because the climate doesn’t care. It’s going to get much, much colder some day and renewable-leveraged power grids will fail.

    Once the grid fails and liberal carbon tax schemes are dumped, the people will burn the Liberals for heat. And then they will burn every last kilo of recoverable fossil fuel until nuclear power is in place.

  7. Given that the world is awash with worthless money at the moment…wouldn’t it actually be cheaper to bury tonnes of actual cash?

  8. After today’s events, it looks like there may be a president in the Whitehouse willing to root out the corruption in climate science after all! Many officials in NASA, NOAA & the EPA who never thought their work would ever come under official scrutiny will know the torch could soon be turned on them.

      • The FBI director has announced that they are re-opening the case against Hillary for mishandling secret information based on e-mails found on Anthony Wiener’s server during an investigation into Wiener’s sending illicit pictures to a 15 year old.

  9. Childishly stupid. They discuss using carbon products to improve soil fertility. They do not seem to know that this carbon will only help soil fertility if it reacts with other chemicals, more often than not ending up making the very CO2 they are wanting to avoid.
    This must be incompetence, getting close to fraud if people are induced to iinvest in such a scheme.

    • once..we just burned the crop trash, in autumn- got rid of weeds fungals/rusts whatever and bugs it was an immediate return of carbon as charcoal, throw rock dust out after burn before turnover and let it sit for a while.then plant winter crops.
      now its expensive chemicals and insane priced bio-char..theres one or more born every minute still, it appears ;-(

  10. Anyone who doesn’t immediately grasp that carbon capture is unworkable should not be let loose upon the AGW debate, with or without a computer. Especially with.

  11. “Restricting global warming below 2 °C to avoid catastrophic climate change will require atmospheric carbon dioxide removal (CDR).”
    The first sentence is a nonsensical statement with no evidence to support it. The rest is meaningless without the assumed foundation of that statement. Will this part of the study get seriously challenged before hyperventilating about the cost of sequestration?
    Salby shows us sequestration of all anthropogenic CO2 would have almost no effect on the atmospheric concentration let alone the global temperature. Pat Frank has shown that there is no usable prediction from any of the IPCC models. Does anyone involved in this study believe their $1000/ ton sequestration will have any effect on the climate?

    • My thoughts exactly. The underlying assumption on the need for Carbon Capture-Sequestration is gibberish. The rest that follows is then the same.

    • And the paleoclimatic reconstruction of the atmosphere shows the carbon dioxide level not getting below Hansen’s “tipping point” consistently until a few tens of millions of years ago. So if the AGW theory is correct, the catastrophe already happened, and there is no life on Earth. Therefore, we live in a computer simulation, a la The Matrix, and we need to reboot the world. :s

  12. Quote: Restricting global warming below 2 °C to avoid catastrophic climate change will require atmospheric carbon dioxide removal (CDR)

    Not a promising start to their piece.

    I’d be far happier if it read something like “appeasing the gods to avoid their catastrophic wrath will require the sacrifice of a great number of virgins” or “keeping the gravy train rolling to avoid catastrophic loss of the income of propagandists will require a great deal of money”.

  13. Cryptic acronyms: Check.
    Pretentious descriptors: Check.
    $1,000 Mg−1 C
    megagrams -1, instead of $1000/ton, really?

    An exercise in Virtue Signaling: Check.

    It looks like they are trying to drive the whole world to go Full Venezuela.
    You do not want to ever go Full Venezuela.

  14. Relating to the picture at the heading – a change of topic – I did not expect WUWT to be showing us steam raising from cooling towers. It seems that any CO2 subject article, no matter where published, is obliged to show towers belching H2O steam as if it should relate to the invisible CO2. No need to propagate that falsehood, I believe.

    • The picture shows a peasant with a horse-drawn cart, working in poverty. In the background is a modern power plant which provides for the needs of the peasant’s rulers.

  15. The 750 million population figure has one major failing, it is too small.

    Take a close look at Japan. Very industrialized, well organised and with a high standard of living.
    But with negative population growth. Doctors are not able to retire because of a lack of replacements. Too many healthy people living longer, but no longer in the work force, but still drawing on society.
    Even in an orderly decrease in population relying on only nature causes, the imbalance will reach a tipping point. To maintain the life style that the elite have become accustomed to would require them to actually work in some meaningful way. Society would not be able to to carry the burden of so many useless mouths.
    As the population dropped there would still be a need for miners for the lead and rare earths to make the batteries for all of the renewable devices this brave new world would need. Also lineman and repairman for the legions of wind turbines. The list, is of course almost endless, and with a decreasing population lasting from one to two hundred years. Being demographically unstable everyone able to preform physical and practical labor will need to be required to do so. No exceptions. Otherwise the society will collapse due to the imbalances and instabilities.

    Pick an hyper violent revolution as an example.

    Oh yes and if this is not a worldwide agreed upon venture, we’ll see histories of barbarian invasions.


    • AI, virtual doctors, robotic surgeons (for their facial and breast enhancements), autonomous piloted planes (for their jets) and cars (to carry them to their Swiss chalets), and manufacturing robotics are what the elites are banking on in that world.

      The key Problem is the food they like requires hard labor where automation helps but doesn’t adapt well to the wilds of real farming And fishing in real weather.

      • The elites have never dirtied their hands even once, such labor is beneath their station. Consequently, they have no idea what maintaining society entails. So, they don’t realize that they are dispensable.

  16. “a new amendment to the US constitution” ?

    Well is that “after” or “before” the others are removed ?

    2nd Amendment goes first !

    Followed quickly with the removal of the 1st Amendment (After all “Freedom” of “Speech” is not necessary, now is it?) !

    And then the rest cascade along with the 1st and 2nd !!!

    And then, BAM, United States Constitution gone…

    Now Americans, don’t forget get to vote your “destruction” on November 8, Hellary is there to finish the job !!!!!!!


    • Well said!!! America is headed in the wrong direction. Progressives want centralized government so they can micro-manage every aspect of our lives.

  17. Relentlessly receding water tables (due mostly to irrigation/food production) in some places and increased flooding in others as increasing water vapor rains out, is compelling evidence humanity needs to aggressively attend to rational management of fresh water . . . and stop this nonsense that CO2 has a significant effect on climate.

  18. Climatocrats should be forced to live the life of $1000 carbon taxes. And we should make certain that every aspect of their lives reflects what they wish to impose on the rest of us.

  19. More deception, Biochar is charcoal. Oh no its not they thunder.

    Biochar is ” thermochemical conversion” whereas Charcoal is ” charring ”

    Anybody know the difference if any?

    • Grey

      Maybe I can help.

      Biochar is claimed to be helpful to plants, based on the observation that Terra Preta (black soil) in the Amazon is more productive than the land around it. There have been biochar enthusiasts going back centuries in Japan. What they found is that certain tree stock prepared in a certain way applied in the right amount (quite high) to certain crops increases productivity. High means 20 t/ha.

      This has been ‘upgraded’ by modern enthusiasts to “biochar increases the fertility of fields’ of everything from food crops to trees. That is not a sustainable claim in all cases, but there are examples where addition of biochar to soil can improve yields – primarily by holding water, and by serving as a host for microbes.

      To be a useful store of microbes it really should be activated charcoal, which is to say, it must be heated to a certain temperature for a certain time and quenched. This is how the activated charcoal in filters is produced. That is definitely in the class of controlled thermochemical conversion.

      Any old charcoal means roasting wood in the absence of air, or very low air, to drive off the volatiles and leave the ‘fixed carbon’. In fact charcoal has some volatiles left or it would be hard to light because pure carbon is hard to burn on its own.

      Biochar promoters start off claiming all sorts of advantages but as time passes the actual benefit (which is real) gets narrower and narrower. It is only certain crops in certain soils that benefit. The remaining volatiles can be toxic.

      Some say that ‘inoculating’ biochar with urine is the only way to get easy benefit. Quite why is not known. It is suspected that certain soil organisms which are suppressed by competition find a good home in the tiny pores of the char. Thus it is ‘biochar’ because it has some biological effect. Dumping charcoal in the ground stores carbon, but may do little for crops. Watch the birdie: claims for burying charcoal are often linked to claims for biochar’s effects. A hundred species of tree produce a hundred species of charcoal.

      Back to the Amazon: my friend the anthropologist who lived in the Amazon for 4 years says that these Terra Preta soils are not deliberately created ‘in fields’. The local Amerindians practiced slash and burn agriculture for 20,000 years and chose the better places to do this. In other words, they planted where things were already better, for example, where drainage favoured crops. They farm for a while then let if grow back to forest, then slash it and burn again after some years. This produces a lot of charcoal in the ground because the wood cannot burn completely. Doing this for millennia procures Terra Preta on the places where it was already better than the regions around, sometimes 2 m deep. In short, Terra Preta soils are in patches, not big fields like Kansas. The accumulation of ages and char creates the final product. It was not created deliberately.

      Contacts of mine who have conducted biochar tests with plants find that adding (quite a lot) to a pot increases its water holding ability. Burt’s Greenhouses in Ontario produces their own biochar and uses it as a potting material. The Japanese are very circumspect for their claims about it. Biochar is not fertiliser, it is inert. It is often spoken of as if it is a magic fertiliser that doesn’t get used up. That is an unreasonable claim.

      There are stoves called top-lit updraft pyrolysers which turn biomass (often waste materials) into charcoal, while cooking by burning the pyrolysis gases. One such stove is made by Servals in Chennai. They have sold something like 12,000 of these TLUD stoves burning furniture waste wood into charcoal, which is collected and sold to a foundry as a coal substitute. It is a CDM qualified project, the first of its kind in the world. The women literally make money while cooking and end up with free fuel in the bargain.

      There are those who would have the char produced in this manner buried in the ground as a carbon sequestration project but it seems pointless in that if it happened, the foundry would have to go back to buying coal. In order to ‘amend’ the offer, it is claimed that the char is a ‘soil amendment’ with a generalised claim that ‘the soil benefits’ from burying charcoal in it. Some agree, some say it can be toxic – it depends on what is in the char and how it was produced, the crop and the soil chemistry and biology.

      By far the most knowledgeable on the matter are the Japanese.

      • Thanks for the info! I always wondered about the Amazon Terra Preta as it didn’t make sense to me that they would deliberately burn charcoal fires to improve fields. Too much labour!

      • Thanks for the very knowledgeable post on char as soil amendment.

        I do hope you post again, the next time you swing through Yogyakarta, for no reason other than that city’s name always makes me smile a bit. Besides, you are one of the people that is worth a read, so here’s hoping that you keep posting from anywhere along your far flung beat, as well.

      • Alan

        In Indonesian, ‘karta’ means ‘city’. So Ja karta means the city of Ja. Yogya (pronounced jog-ja) I the name of the kingdom centered there (within t kingdom on Central Java). S the name Yogyakarta means the city of Yogya. It is near both the Perambulan Temple and Borobadur, the latter being the first major Buddhist construction in the far East (mid 9th century). The temple is 300 years older at least. The city also has a huge active volcano in it. One of the amazing sights is the water palace of the Sultan.

  20. It started with Widow Wilson who didn’t believe in the declaration of Independence, Or the US constitution. They have been working to destroy both for 100 years + AND HAVE ALMOST SUCCEEDED. Oops all caps not intentional, but probably needed…

  21. Charcoal may actually prove useful as a soil amendment, helping to create terra preta type soils, but we may not really know enough about the process yet, just that charcoal is correlated with terra preta. Charcoal employed as a means to the end of Carbon sequestration, takes up a page in that chapter of the Handbook of Fool’s Errands.

    • The use of charcoal is now well known. The claim that “biochar” is something new is fake but is used to support vastly higher prices and a fake vision that something has been invented.

      • Gary,
        When you put potash or phosphate fertilizer into soil, you expect the plants to take it up and deplete it. If it is not depleted it is not doing any good. Bad, in fact, because costs.
        Same with carbon. If it does not deplete, it is not doing good. Carbon has a way of usually ending up as CO2 in the air. So there is no point to burying carbon to help plants because if it helps plants it can become CO2 again for no gain.
        You could bury carbon to stop it becoming CO2 except Nature took that idea first, hence coal.
        Why are proponents of this sham so willfully and expensively ignorant of simple truths?

  22. Adding Charcoal to soil is now well known. The scam is saying its “biochar” and demanding 20 times the price along with of course fake credentials.

  23. Can you imagine a world where carbon is priced above $1000 / ton? People would be selling the bodies of their dead relatives to help cover funeral costs. No home would be able to afford heating

    Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 8.9 kg CO2, which is similar to 2.4 Kg carbon.
    $1000/ton will then increase the price by $2.4/gallon.

    It will certainly be expensive, but the claim above is after all, a bit of exaggeration.


  24. Sorry, wrong quoting above, it should be:

    Can you imagine a world where carbon is priced above $1000 / ton? People would be selling the bodies of their dead relatives to help cover funeral costs. No home would be able to afford heating

    Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 8.9 kg CO2, which is similar to 2.4 Kg carbon.
    $1000/ton will then increase the price by $2.4/gallon.
    It will certainly be expensive, but the claim above is after all a bit of exaggeration.

  25. At $400 / ton, or $1000 / ton, or more, which is where carbon pricing is heading if greens get their way, the pain really kicks in. People would have to give up home heating and driving. Everything will become hideously expensive. The modern world will be swept aside, and replaced by the destitution and hardship our ancestors experienced

    A carbon price of $400/ton add $0.97 /gallon to the price of gasoline


      • Not that it matters, but you need to add the weight of the oxygen taken from the air to burn the gas, which then forms CO2. Maybe they should tax the oxygen used instead.

      • A US gallon of petrol weigh about 2.9 kg

        When that is burnt, it combines with about 10 kg of oxygen form the air, giving a total of 12.9 kg mass.

        The exhaust from a clean combustion will then consist of 8.9 kg CO2, and 4 kg water (H2O).


      • Grey Lensman

        Let’s say that petrol hydrocarbon is 70% C, 30% H. 0.70 * 3.57 = 2.50 kg C

        One kg C = 3.67 kg CO2 per chemical stoichiometry.

        2.50 * 3.67= 9.17 kg CO2.

        Not exact, but you get the idea. Most people don’t.

        For instance 400 ppm by volume of CO2 in the atmosphere = 400 * 2.12 = 848 Gt of carbon in the 46,713 Gt biospheric carbon cycle, 1.8%. FF’s share, 160 Gt or 0.34%. Not so threatening after all. IPCC Figure 6.1 & Table 6.1

  26. I noticed nobody questioned whether a few people writing an article in nature have the means to estimate costs for carbon sequestration technology. The last time I worked on the subject I supervised a small team which worked with a larger team made up 32 individuals working for contractors and consultants. The total budget was $3 million usd, and we had the benefit of several billion USD of previous efforts which gave us huge databases and actual costs and performance. The end result was a preliminary cost estimate to generate steam and electricity and sequester the co2. And in hindsight we were wrong.

    In other words, anything published in Nature about the subject will simply be useless, because these outfits lack the financial and engineering muscle to get semi accurate figures.

  27. Why char the biomass? Commercial landfills go dry after a few years which stops methanogenic activity, effectively ending associated carbon loss.

    Wonder when the greenies will start paying landfill operators for such carbon sequestration?

  28. It takes about 62 mcf of natural gas to generate 1 ton of carbon. At the current wellhead price of $3/mcf, 62 mcf is worth $186. This means that a meaningful carbon tax would have to be at least $400/ton, possibly $1,000/ton. At a retail price of $10/mcf, 62 mcf would cost consumers $620. Tack on’ a meaningful carbon tax and the cost of 62 mcf would skyrocket to $1,020 to $1,620. A prohibitively expensive tax on energy which will have no measurable effect on the climate. Keep this in mind when you pay your gas, electricity, heating oil and/or gas station bills… and when you vote.

  29. Sequestering carbon looks to be very profitable. Take CO2. Collect payment. Open valve. Job done. Who would ever know.

    It isn’t like toxic chemicals where if you just dump them someone is going to notice. If this ever does become an industry I predict it will be absolutely riddled with cheats and frauds.

  30. Statements like this show a disregard for or unawareness of the concept of marginalism in microeconomic theory:

    “People will simply swallow the pain and keep driving their cars.”

    There is a vast literature out there on the effects of incremental increases in price, tax, minimum wage, and the complex interaction of inflation, money supply, demand curve shape, stickiness, psychological effects and bias, etc., that influence consumer behavior and which aggregate micro behavior into macro effects. This author chooses to handwave it all away in the midst of an analysis of economic policy? I think I will wait for a better effort.

    • Until we have safe, clean / hygienic, convenient and inexpensive mass transit, we’ll keep driving our cars. Taxing the fuel addresses on of those four concerns.

  31. Current price for prime steel billet is $200-500 / metric ton. US-produced steel runs about 2.9 tons of carbon emitted for each ton of steel; China/India-produced steel is 3.2 – 3.9 tons of carbon for each ton of steel (China produces more steel than the next 9 large producer countries combined). Let’s just assume 3.0 tons of carbon for each ton of steel for simplicity. At $400/ton carbon cost, that adds $1200 to the price of each ton of steel — effectively quadrupling the cost of steel.

    The world produces approximately 1.6 billion metric tons of steel each year. At $1200 carbon cost per ton, that makes roughly $1.92 Trillion (1.92E12 USD) of extra cost on annual steel production. Do you think the world economy will notice?

    Steel is the single most useful material developed in the history of civilization. Modern life depends on it in thousands of ways. There are no words to express how stupid it would be to quadruple the effective cost of steel.

  32. A typical Rankine cycle (i.e. steam) coal fired power plant produces about 2,200 pounds of CO2 per MWh depending on fuel composition and heat rate. Because one pound of carbon produces 3.67 pounds of CO2, divide 2,200 by 3.67 to get carbon: 600 lb C/MWh. The CPP goal for coal is 1,300 lb CO2/MWh.

    A typical Rankine cycle natural gas power plant produces about 1,200 pounds of CO2 per MWh depending on fuel composition and heat rate or 327 lb C/MWh.

    A typical simple Brayton cycle (i.e. hot gas) combustion turbine produces about 1,300 pounds of CO2 per MWh or 354 lb C/MWh.

    A typical combined cycle natural gas fired power plant, (Brayton hot gas & Rankine steam) produces about 650 pounds of CO2 per MWh depending on fuel composition and heat rate or 177 lb C/MWh.

    EPA’s Clean Power Plan specifies performance standards that the states must meet (making the states the bad guys avoids the perception of overweaning Federalism) by 2030. For individual EGUs: coal – 1,305 lb CO2/MWh, NG – 771 lb CO2/MWh.

    BTW renewable generation, i.e. hydro, wind, and solar, in service prior to 2012 do not count towards this performance standard calculation. Bet the hydro, wind, and solar industries thought this a great idea.

    If the CO2 tax is $50 per ton of C then that would add 600/2000 * $50 = $15 / MWh to the operating cost of the coal fired power plant. Most coal plants currently produce at about $25 to $30 per MWh. The average grid clearing price is on the order of $35 / MWh.

    So carbon taxes would increase electricity rates substantially compared to current production costs. Comparable taxes and cost increases would apply to the gasoline carbon in your car and the NG carbon for hot water and furnace.

    $50 $400 $1,000
    lb C / MWh Ton C / MWh $/MWh per $/ton CO2
    Coal, actual 599 0.30 $15 $120 $300
    Coal, CPP goal 354 0.18 $9 $71 $177
    NG Stm & CCPP 327 0.16 $8 $65 $163
    NG CCPP, actual 177 0.09 $4 $35 $89

  33. Can you imagine a world where carbon is priced above $1000 / ton? People would be selling the bodies of their dead relatives to help cover funeral costs. No home would be able to afford heating, unless your rooftop solar array was having a good day. Yet this is the world government policy planners are embracing as a future goal.

    At $400 / ton, or $1000 / ton, or more, which is where carbon pricing is heading if greens get their way, the pain really kicks in. People would have to give up home heating and driving. Everything will become hideously expensive. The modern world will be swept aside, and replaced by the destitution and hardship our ancestors experienced.

    No, at that price level, if no one else, the Chinese would develop cheap &. safe generation IV nuclear reactors, not only for electricity generation but for driving chemical plants as well and sell them to the world. They would get extremely rich on that business, still, home heating and driving would remain affordable and the (post)modern world would be maintained. That’s how a politically distorted market is supposed to work.

    Unfortunately that also means the CPC (Communist Party of China) would gain overwhelming power over everyone, including these world government policy planners. Is that what they are striving for? Or are they just tired of life &. and fed up with constitutional democracy?

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