New Report: Carbon capture would make renewables and nuclear energy look cheap

Eminent energy economist warns that carbon capture and storage will never be viable

The Boundary Dam CCS power plant in Saskatchewan Canada. Credit: SaskPowerCCS

CCS would make renewables and nuclear energy look cheap

That is the stark message of Professor Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh and a former adviser to the World Bank. In a new report published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Professor Hughes says that claims that costs will fall quickly are unlikely to be borne out in practice and even if they are, the total investment required makes CCS little more than a utopian dream.

And as Professor Hughes explains:

“We have spent countless millions trying to get carbon capture to work for coal-fired power stations. But in the future coal will mostly be used in the developing world, where CCS is going to be too expensive. Everyone else is moving to gas, for which CSS isn’t yet an option.”

And even if the technology can be made to work for gas, it would come at a price that “would make renewables and nuclear look cheap”.

This is in part because of a lack of joined up policy, as Professor Hughes explains:

“Successive governments haven’t thought their policies through. The focus on renewables is making CCS – already a marginal technology – even less viable. A coherent strategy could reduce carbon emissions at a fraction of the current cost by switching to gas with the option to install CCS if/when it makes economic sense.”

Full paper (pdf) — The Bottomless Pit: The Economics Of Carbon Capture and Storage

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Jimmy Haigh
June 28, 2017 6:39 am

I bet he’s not popular with my old geology lecturer from Strathclyde Uni who is now Professor of CCS in Edinburgh, Professor Stuart Haszeldine…

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
June 28, 2017 6:46 am

Prof Haszeldine has his snout deep into the CCS trough. Without the trough, he would be without a job.

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
June 28, 2017 6:58 am

I Googled Prof of CCS to get his name, and was shocked to find that CCS, despite being something that doesn’t exist, is now a major employer, several centres at UK and AUS universities. The good Prof is the go-to person for the BBC to get an unbiased and balanced view of the subject. Take some comfort from the fact that you are not funding this non-subject solely from your taxes … you also pay for it when filling-up your car, as several oil companies are “investing” in it.

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
June 28, 2017 4:11 pm

Most CCS funding is spent on people who do nothing not actually doing the CCS. So it is a rent seekers paradise. Academics (the educated) will look into CCS for 500,000 years if allowed. This does not mean a version of CCS is unworthy. Its the management of the task that is very bad and corrupt. the corruption is usually Government mandated by the educated.
Fortunately the EPA have removed the US money. Collapse of rent seekers is imminent.
In Australia we are still in green mode with two states now claimant (bankrupt) excluding NT. For the United States and Australia to have bankrupt states considering they occupy the richest places on earth this takes true talent. Neither are reliant on any one thing. The commonality appears to be “making things” is bad, making money out of money is good.
Schemes that store CO2 and reuse it to do things are successful. CO2 is a valuable industrial gas. Low cost storage and recycling can be achieved using spent oil and gas reservoirs. There is now 4,000 km of CO2 pipelines in Texas. It is used for enhanced oil recovery. It could be used for many other things.
New methods for producing hydrogen are about to hit the market that combined with CO2, (exothermic reaction), can be used to make methane at US$2.83/GJ or sub US$3/mmBtu. No, this does not sequester the CO2 but it should make Qatar and all the shale gas producers VERY nervous. It won’t do electric cars much good if hydrogen fuel cells can be refilled anywhere at a lower cost vs gasoline or diesel and it does not produce 8 years of CO2 vs gasoline cars.
Despite spending US$440 Billion dollars shale producers are yet to produce a net dollar of profit. That is not to say some of them have not done well. Its just the net position looks like a ponzi scheme. They all need an oil price over US$60 per barrel and this is not going to happen for several years. Expect more share sales and loans and fairy stories about oil and gas price increases coming soon.
Lastly, there are labs working on anti-matter based energy production. There is a sustained positron reaction using high energy lasers to do the start up on very thin wafers at relatively low temperatures. I guess no-one read the quantum doctrine manual. They are too busy doing it to worry over “the educated” saying it is impossible. The downside is that for the first time we will have enough potential energy at a single location to destroy our planet.

June 28, 2017 6:41 am

Allow plants utilizing photosynthesis to capture the carbon. How about that for a utopian dream come true, and it won’t cost a nice nickel.

Reply to  Kamikazedave
June 28, 2017 6:42 am

won’t cost us a nickel. Damned autocorrect

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Kamikazedave
June 28, 2017 10:42 am

Well, I don’t know about that. There’s seeds to buy, potting soil, gardening tools, Miracle-Gro®… 😉

Reply to  Kamikazedave
June 28, 2017 3:16 pm

“D. J. Hawkins June 28, 2017 at 10:42 am
Well, I don’t know about that. There’s seeds to buy, potting soil, gardening tools, Miracle-Gro®… ;-)”

Just don’t let it escape.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Kamikazedave
June 28, 2017 5:19 pm

Just don’t let it escape.

I’ve driven through the South. Waaaaaay too late for that.

June 28, 2017 6:44 am

I don’t want to live anywhere close to a carbon capture operation. Carbon escape is what worries me.

Monna M
Reply to  Trebla
June 28, 2017 7:05 am

Carbon escape won’t hurt you – although it would look pretty odd to see lumps of coal running away from the dump site. Carbon dioxide escape, on the other hand ….

harrow sceptic
Reply to  Monna M
June 28, 2017 7:17 am

Monna M I think what Trebla was thinking of was “Lake Nyos Suffocated Over 1,746 People in a Single Night” Google Lake Nyos in the Cameroon for further info on this escape of a huge pocket of CO2

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Monna M
June 28, 2017 10:48 am

Monna M was being arch.

Reply to  Trebla
June 28, 2017 2:19 pm

I have the same nightmare with energy storage.
I’ve seen a Galaxy Note 7 burn up with that tiny lithium battery .. imagine that, 6 or 7 orders of magnitude larger.

Ian Magness
June 28, 2017 6:51 am

When the history of “climate change and how we tried to spend our way out of it” is written by our utterly incredulous future generations, I predict that, of all the insanity proposed or enacted, the whole issue of CCS (and its attendant burying of the “pollution” in distant oil wells and similar), will rank only alongside the notion of felling virgin forests, turning them into wood chips then burning them in power stations up to thousands of miles away (the “Drax solution”).
Our future historians will simply be unable to comprehend how such insane policies could have been thought of, leave alone implemented – not least because of their net overall “carbon emissions” and the small matter of the ludicrous overall cost of energy that these wonderful solutions result in.

Reply to  Ian Magness
June 28, 2017 7:34 am

People are like sheep and lemmings. They go mad in herds, following blindly over the cliff.

Jon Jewett
Reply to  ferdberple
June 29, 2017 8:27 pm

(Sigh…..) The suicide of the Lemmings is a Disney HOAX. It’s phony news. Doesn’t happen. Didn’t ever happen. It’s like believing that Tinkerbell will live if you really really believe and really really clap your hands really really hard. Do you believe in Peter Pan? Do you believe CNN and the Trump/Russia story? The Lemmings do not commit suicide, Tinkerbell will not live, and the CNN/Trump/Russia story is made up to enhance CNN’s ratings (and damage President Trump).
“The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic “lemming migration” was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable.”

Reply to  Ian Magness
June 28, 2017 9:19 am

But they were trying to save the planet. Doesn’t that count for something?

Reply to  Ian Magness
June 29, 2017 2:42 am

Ian, My sentiments, exactly.
Hopefully in the near future the scales will fall off everyone’s eyes and people will suddenly see how we are vigorously trashing nature and humans in the name of saving them both from the mythical dragon of catastrophic climate change.. It amazes me how so-called humanitarians and environmentalists have made global warming alarmism their transcendent single cause and thereby become willing to sacrifice all other progress in their fields at the feet of this false god. Just 10 years ago it was a cardinal sin to put a chainsaw to a tree or use a paper grocery bag on the Pacific coast, but today it is considered “green” and “sustainable” to turn all of our old-growth forests of diverse species and habitats into intensively-cultivated mono-cultures of GMO corn or non-native pulpwood to feed into gas tanks or furnaces. And the actions actually taken in the name of saving us from climate Armageddon, when scrutinized, are found to be actually increasing GHG emissions — the EPA’s corn ethanol fuel blending fiasco is the poster child of this. The likes of Google are even underwriting such misguided ventures as CoolPlanet whose bright idea is to burn trees into “bio-char” and thereby release much of their perfectly and naturally sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere.

Joe - the non scientist
June 28, 2017 6:53 am

According to Skeptical Science – renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation –
Though I am perplexed on how someone who doesnt grasp elementary math, science and economics, somehow possesses the superior intellectual capacity to ascertain the validity of AGW

June 28, 2017 7:03 am

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday, to the delight of rural America, that the Trump administration is moving to rescind the Obama era’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulatory rule.

June 28, 2017 7:03 am

Molten Salt Reactors will be cheaper than coal plant in the next 10-15 years.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  visionar2013
June 28, 2017 9:42 am

Doubtful. Maybe in 50 years.

Reply to  visionar2013
June 28, 2017 11:07 am

Right about the time fusion becomes practical.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
June 28, 2017 7:03 am

If one group – electricity vendors – burn a fuel that produces something as valuable as CO2 and profits thereby, and then, at the expense of the electricity-using public, withholds that CO2 from being freely available to the public for other uses, they should be sued.
Farmers require CO2 to be freely available to all. It means the poorest in the world will be able to grow food more productively without assistance. Preventing access to this resource as a deliberate act, even to the extend of taxing, directly or indirectly, the public in order to keep it from those eventual users as a conscious act, is unjust.
With global CO2 at near-historic lows, the living biomass upon which nearly all life forms depend are struggling to survive with yields well down on their historical norms. At present CO2 concentration is less than 20% of its historical average.
Fossil fuels are a common treasure of humanity. It is wrong for some individuals or groups to profit from their exploitation and then withhold the residual benefits of that use from the rest of the population.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
June 28, 2017 9:39 am

You really sound like a socialist 😉

J Mac
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
June 28, 2017 5:06 pm

Set CO2 Free!
Do it for the Plants!
Do it for a greener Environment!
Do it for the Children!
(Whew… that’s a tall soapbox to step down from, but I feel soooo virtuous!)

June 28, 2017 7:06 am

97% of WUWT posters could have made Prof Hughes statement.
There is only one non CO2 producing source (save facility construction, mining and ore processing contributions) we have right now that will ever work on a large scale and that is nuclear. But it is what it is.

Reply to  rbabcock
June 28, 2017 7:15 am

Hoover Dam?

Reply to  Wharfplank
June 28, 2017 7:56 am

Hoover Dam produces about the same power as a two reactor nuclear plant and there are a couple of other large Hydro plants in the US. But a little hard to build Hoover Dams across the US due to, well, you know. And Hoover Dam’s output was down as the reservoir behind it started dropping in 2012.
The only thing in the universe that isn’t nuclear powered is human civilization.

Reply to  Wharfplank
June 28, 2017 3:31 pm

“rbabcock June 28, 2017 at 7:06 am
97% of WUWT posters could have made Prof Hughes statement.
There is only one non CO2 producing source (save facility construction, mining and ore processing contributions) we have right now that will ever work on a large scale and that is nuclear. But it is what it is.”

“Wharfplank June 28, 2017 at 7:15 am
Hoover Dam?”

Are you telling us Wharfplank, that all of that lime based cement, used to construct Hoover Dam was found somewhere without carbon dioxide emissions involved?

June 28, 2017 7:14 am

If that is indeed the case then CCS is doing it’s job which is to make panels and pinwheels attractive by comparison.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Wharfplank
June 28, 2017 10:56 am

You have, of course, hit the nail squarely on the head. If Hillarybeast had been elected, we’d find ourselves surrounded by folks trying to make CCS the norm for all fossil-fueled power plant to the extent that John Q. Public would think of it as an integral and necessary part of any fossil plant. Now that you’ve artificially jacked up the capital and operating costs for a coal plant, of course the bird chopper looks like an attractive alternative.

Reply to  Wharfplank
June 29, 2017 10:21 am

Those panels and pinwheels would best be used to pump water back up to the “Hoover Dam” lake – when the sun doth shine and the wind doth blow.

Curious George
June 28, 2017 7:24 am

CCS is based on fear of a dangerous greening of Africa.

June 28, 2017 7:58 am

I’ve always kind of wondered…
Why not PIPE the effluent stream of a coal / oil / gas powered generating station to a rainforest? OK, sure, the power plant needs to be near a rainforest. Clearly it’d be impractical otherwise. But hey… those rainforests are veritable sponges for CO₂. You get plant cover, tree growth. A kind of living sequestration.
Or, if we’re able to abstract the idea entirely, isn’t present-day CO₂ venting-to-the-atmosphere simply the same idea globally? Plants take up CO₂. Who knew.
FeSO₄ (ferrous sulfate) is a cheap-as-shipping-allows byproduct of TiO₂ (titanium dioxide, the white pigment) manufacture. Mountains of it has accumulated. Some is used for agriculture (makes plants dark green if they have enough nitrogen and phosphate). But most sits in mountains. All around the globe. Sprinkling it on “blue desert” ocean surface causes HUGE blooms of phytoplankton. Which do their thing, get eaten by bigger critters, most of which falls to the sea floor. Sequestration!
Is the “problem” really that hard to address?

Reply to  GoatGuy
June 28, 2017 8:18 am

Algal blooms also cause problems, but perhaps they can be diffused.

Reply to  GoatGuy
June 28, 2017 9:17 am

They have tried that experiment of feeding algae with iron by dropping it into the ocean.. Turns out the algae don’t behave as expected. They hang up in mid ocean and don’t drop down to the bottom.

john harmsworth
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 28, 2017 9:32 am

Sequestering large amounts of CO2 is a terrible idea. It does extensive good in the biosphere.

Reply to  GoatGuy
June 28, 2017 10:58 am

My own solution is to pipe the flue gas into a large greenhouse complex, with CO2 levels over 100 times normal plants will grow fast and the heat will enable all year round crop production. Granted there are problems: people will need oxygen masks to work in the greenhouses and there will be cooling problems in the summer.
Still it should make serous amounts of money from the crops and capture a large proportion of the CO2.

Reply to  BillP
June 28, 2017 12:25 pm

Do you have any idea of the temperature of the flue gas from a power plant>

Leo Smith
Reply to  BillP
June 28, 2017 1:15 pm

about 45C

Reply to  BillP
June 29, 2017 12:27 am

In winter greenhouses lose heat fast, all one needs to do spread out the injection of flue gas, so that it mixes with the atmosphere inside the greenhouse and the temperature will stay plant friendly. Additional cooling will be required in summer, as I indicated in my first post.

June 28, 2017 8:25 am

Old news, but one should never give up hope. I’m sure there were plenty of grumblings that nuclear energy couldn’t be harnessed or that man would never set foot on the Moon.

Reply to  Thom
June 28, 2017 10:29 am

There are still people saying we didn’t actually set foot on the moon…

Leo Smith
Reply to  Griff
June 28, 2017 1:16 pm

There are still people saying that renewable energy has a part to play.

June 28, 2017 8:41 am

Since cost has never been in the Green play book ever, it is only a side issue for the rational to ponder.

June 28, 2017 8:45 am

“Even when costs have fallen to NOAK levels – sometime after 2040 – the average
cost of reducing CO2 emissions by fitting CCS to coal or gas plants will be at least
$120 per tCO2 for baseload plants and may be $160–200 per tCO2 at plants operating
with load factors of 60% or even 50% for gas plants.”
Nonsense. The Mitsubishi system in Texas costs somewhere in the $40-50/ton range. And pays for itself by producing more oil.

Reply to  vboring
June 28, 2017 9:56 am

Regarding using CO2 to revive oil fields, why not just compress and pump the power plant exhaust without bothering to separate the CO2 since with modern computer controlled combustion, the exhaust is mostly CO2 and water anyway. The cost of using power plant exhaust to revive an oil field should be 0, unless you want to remove the water, which is relatively inexpensive.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 28, 2017 10:44 am

Just injecting flue gas into oilfields is an interesting idea.
You have to be certain not to inject any oxygen, that could form an explosive mixture with the natural gas. You would probably have to make the power plant slightly under supplied with air to ensure that all the oxygen was combined with carbon. That would make the plant slightly less efficient, but the extra cost would be tiny compared to to CCS.
Flue gas contains large amounts of nitrogen, but that should not damage the well field. It would however increase the volume of gas so the well field has to be large enough to need it.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  vboring
June 28, 2017 11:03 am

First, that concept is only notionally useful if you happen to have an oil field handy. Not gonna work for most plants. Second, selling the CO2 only reduces your cost from “mindbogglingly astronomical” to “pointlessly expensive”. Call me when you knock down the last $50/ton.

June 28, 2017 8:46 am

Hey, you want to capture carbon…have at it and plant a god damn tree. Has any serious research demonstrated the deleterious effects of 400ppm of CO2 ? No – I thought so

June 28, 2017 9:14 am

The only way CCS makes sense is if the CO2 is used for tertiary recovery projects in old oil fields.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 28, 2017 9:47 am

It’s also used to keep apples fresh.
But pursuing the idea of using any kind of carbon capture scheme for the purpose of controlling the climate is an undeniable indication of insanity, poor judgement, broken policy and a complete lack of common sense. The fact that this even sees the light of day is testament to how irreconcilably broken climate science has become.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 28, 2017 10:31 am

That a) provides a place to put the CO2 and b) pays for the process.
(Germany abandoned CCS when nobody wanted to be on top of the rocks they proposed to pump the CO2 into)

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Griff
June 28, 2017 11:06 am

That a) provides a place to put the CO2 and b) pays for the process.
(Germany abandoned CCS when nobody wanted to be on top of the rocks they proposed to pump the CO2 into)

Proving that despite Green Mania, some Germans maintain a sense of self-preservation.

June 28, 2017 9:24 am

I wish I could do dumb . Their are so many well remunerated careers if only someone can bring themselves to be dumb .

Reply to  Bob Armstrong
June 28, 2017 9:45 am

It is high time for some career coach to write a book on this neglected strategy.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
June 29, 2017 2:50 am

Opens the doors to EPA, NREL, Google Ventures, ACORE, BIO, RFA . . .

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Michael Palmer
June 29, 2017 11:25 am

How about “Dumbness for Dummies?”.

Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2017 9:54 am

My impression is that all geoengineering schemes including CCS, were merely sops, for those concerned about warming, about also concerned about costs of mitigation. It was made to look like a feasible, middle step. But it was all just a ploy, and a way to get people onboard the Climate Bandwagon.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2017 10:11 am

Not sure about this. Why would people who fail to critically contemplate the evidence on global warming be any more critical toward all these phony mitigation strategies?
Palmer’s all-encompassing theory of academic aspiration maintains that academia actively selects for people with an uncritical mindset. It goes as follows:
1. People seek jobs that make them happy.
2. You are happy in a job if you think you are doing good work.
3. In academia, good work means producing good ideas and pursuing them.
4. You will consider your idea good if it stands up to your own criticism.
5. Lots of ideas will stand up to your criticism if
a) you have lots of brilliant ideas (rare), or
b) you have poor critical faculties (very common). Therefore,
6. Academia contains a few brilliant minds and a lot of people with poor critical thinking.
Now, the situation according to 6. is bad enough, but for things to really go south, the people with poor critical thinking must get together on a bandwagon all by themselves, to the exclusion of the brilliant ones. This has certainly happened in climate science, but not only there – I could name other fields suffering from the very same effect.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Michael Palmer
June 28, 2017 10:49 am

The problem, Michael, is that the “brilliant” climate scientists are silent in the face of exaggeration and outright lies by their politically astute brethren.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
June 28, 2017 10:52 am

Dave, I think “silenced” would be more accurate than “silent,”

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2017 1:04 pm

ALL of the Climate Change activities are about creating a strong cadre of supporters for the progressive movement in the STEM fields. They already have captured the education fields, the media, and all of the soft sciences, so the hard STEM disciplines are the last ones to be targeted. Even hard-nosed businessmen have capitulated, because they have been convinced that they can make some money from it. The engineers are most resistant to progressive blathering, so it will take a gigantic piling-on of the “consensus” to force the hard STEM people to finally give up.

June 28, 2017 9:55 am

I first heard about CCS from a colleague whom I had considered an expert on climate science, when I had asked him if global warming was really going to be as bad as advertised. When he referred to CCS in his reply, I thought “that’s absurd.” Being fobbed off with this bit of obvious nonsense got me started on my way to skepticism.

June 28, 2017 10:03 am

Ending all government funding of CCS related activity has no down side.

June 28, 2017 10:09 am

CCS is a non starter. To capture, compress and transport the CO2 takes anywhere between 30 to 50% of the power plant output. That in itself would make almost any other source of power more affordable. That does not even deal with the equipment costs, reagent required to remove the CO2, maintenance on the systems or the cost to store the CO2.

Reply to  GWGrubbs
June 28, 2017 11:33 am

Agree 100% unless you have a economic beneficial use for the CO2, like pumping it into an oil well which might offset the massive cost and use of more fossil fuels. Compression is very costly as well as the capture.
BTW they are sequestering more Oxygen than Carbon which is not a good idea.
Lets stop the subsidies for a bad idea.

old construction worker
June 28, 2017 10:29 am

Less think this through. The power of being want to capture at its source and pipe CO2 to the storage site, right. They could save a lot of money to allow the CO2 escape to the atmosphere, then suck it out of the atmosphere and pump it into storage at the site. No need for hoods and miles of piping. But then the power companies couldn’t charge the oil companies for the CO2. I believe the whole idea was for oil companies to use CO2 in their fracking process.

June 28, 2017 10:32 am

Well, I think he’s wrong about one thing – coal mostly won’t be in the developing world because the developing world won’t be building coal plant (even with Chinese money).
They’ll go straight to solar instead.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Griff
June 28, 2017 1:19 pm

oh Griff, you are such a card!

J Mac
Reply to  Griff
June 28, 2017 5:28 pm

Largest Coal Consuming Countries Increase Appetite In First 5 Months Of 2017
Coal mining in the United States, India, and China – the world’s three biggest coal consumers – has increased in 2017, reversing a downward trend in the use of carbon-heavy fossil fuel in recent years, according to the Associated Press.
Coal production through May is up by 6 percent, or 121 million tons for the trio year-over-year. The most dramatic change came in the United States, which saw a 19 percent rise in mining over the first five months of 2017, figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show.
And while coal mining has picked up in 2017 in the US, coal consumption “will continue to increase, mainly driven by Asian countries,” Xizhou Zhou, of IHS Markit in Beijing, said. “We’re seeing a recovery starting this year and an increase until the mid-2020s before you see coal plateau globally.”

Reply to  Griff
June 29, 2017 3:34 am

India built 87GW of coal plants in the past 5 years and currently has 132 coal plants comprising 50 GW under construction. Coal currently provides 82% of India’s electricity. India’s latent electric power demand to achieve USA quality of life is a factor of 12 times current demand.
China has 389 coal plants comprising 205 GW under construction. This will increase its coal generation capacity from 900 GW to 1,100 GW. China’s coal mine production in April of 2017 was 10% higher than April of 2016. China’s latent electric power demand is a factor of 5.
Africa has more than 100 coal plants comprising 47 GW in planning or construction. South Africa is currently building one of the world’s largest plants, a 4.8 GW coal plant that will burn 16 MT of coal per year. Africa’s latent electric power demand is a factor of 23.
India and China have formed their own global finance bank to bypass the IMF and World Bank and are funding construction of more than 100 coal plants in Asia and Africa.
Coal today provides 40% of the world’s electricity, 70% of the world’s steel, and 90% of the world’d concrete. Coal was the number one source of energy for the G20 in 2016. Coal is still king and its use is going to continue to increase through at least 2050.

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
June 28, 2017 10:43 am

What *are* they worried about? The ocean(s) capture carbon dioxide because it dissolves in rainwater (have we heard from ‘Henry’ recently) and when it falls into the ocean directly or washes down rivers into the ocean, It Does Not Come Back.
Well, yes it does, some tiny part gets puffed out of a Vesuvius millions of years down the line but hardly staistickitistcally snigficnikant. Unless you live near Lake Fartalot. Or a vegetarian possibly
So the atmosphere is going to be sucked clean of CO2 (as long as it keeps raining) and where will we be then?
No plants. no animals, no people, no problem.
Neat huh?
The important clue here is- Why are the stomata (CO2 intakes) on plant’s leaves, on the UNDERSIDE of the leaves?

June 28, 2017 11:14 am

When it comes to coal, etc., skip the worry about CO2 – if we only focused on cleaning up the toxic and dangerous emissions, it could be done. Trying to scrub the CO2 out of the emissions is not achievable, nor as this article points out, approachable financially.
I’m reminded of a section in that infamous NYT’s piece on Freeman Dyson:

For Hansen, the dark agent of the looming environmental apocalypse is carbon dioxide contained in coal smoke. Coal, he has written, “is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.” Hansen has referred to railroad cars transporting coal as “death trains.” Dyson, on the other hand, told me in conversations and e-mail messages that “Jim Hansen’s crusade against coal overstates the harm carbon dioxide can do.” Dyson well remembers the lethal black London coal fog of his youth when, after a day of visiting the city, he would return to his hometown of Winchester with his white shirt collar turned black. Coal, Dyson says, contains “real pollutants” like soot, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, “really nasty stuff that makes people sick and looks ugly.” These are “rightly considered a moral evil,” he says, but they “can be reduced to low levels by scrubbers at an affordable cost.” He says Hansen “exploits” the toxic elements of burning coal as a way of condemning the carbon dioxide it releases, “which cannot be reduced at an affordable cost, but does not do any substantial harm.”

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  garyh845
June 29, 2017 11:34 am

Hansen sounds like Elmer Gantry — way over the top with Hellfire and brimstone; Dyson sounds eminently reasonable. Strange that he’s such a committed Democrat when there’s not a single Democrat who will listen to him any more. Sadly, in a few more years they won’t have to.

June 28, 2017 11:19 am

As a recently retired petroleum engineer for a major oil company and worked in enhanced oil recovery for almost all of my 34 years, it amazes me that so many apparently well educated and putatively intelligent people continue to pursue the ridiculously expensive and hopelessly uneconomic idea of CCS — it’s almost as if someone is PAYING them to chase this fantasy — oh, wait, never mind…
If any of these “scientists” ever bothered to talk to an engineer for ten, maybe twenty minutes, they would realize just how impractical the whole thing is — but then, they wouldn’t have a “job,” would they?
If any of these “scientists” were really serious about “saving the planet from CO2 emissions, they’d be protesting for MORE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS — the fact that they are almost uniformly against nuclear power reveals just how unserious that are about CO2.

June 28, 2017 11:40 am

Here is a CCS project that has a history of problems.
Lots of subsidies and cost over runs with significant operational problems.
Anyone have latest update

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Catcracking
June 28, 2017 1:35 pm
Reply to  Catcracking
June 29, 2017 3:41 am

The big news today is that the Mississippi Power lignite plant in Kemper County — flagship of American CCS and the plant upon which the EPA justified its 2016 New Source Performance Standards drastically restricting CO2 emissions — is giving up on CCS. After heroically spending $7.5 billion over 7 years on a 582 MW plant (more per MW than a nuclear plant), they are now resigned to operating it as a $1.billion-equivalent combined-cycle natural gas plant. It is not because the technology did not work — after typical FOAK startup complications they have been stably operating one of the two gasifier and clean-up loops for months. Rather, it is because there are now no longer any technical challenges left to distract from facing cold economic reality. It turns out that intentionally increasing the complexity and reducing the thermal efficiency of a fossil fuel plant in order to capture CO2 is tantamount to increasing its fuel cost from $2/mmBTU to $20/mmBTU (my approximations). It is politically impossible to pass on to ratepayers a tenfold increase in cost no matter how virtuous one believes the cause to be, in this case a 65% carbon reduction.
And CO2 gas injection into water-flooded underground formations should not be considered true sequestration, especially when used for enhanced oil recovery. Gas injected into oil fields has many potential paths back to the surface, and large surface pipelines can also leak. The risk of such leaks is ever present because CO2 and water form an acid that attacks pipes, concrete, and rock formations. Compressed CO2 is not harmless if released, but is heavier than air and will form an anoxic surface bubble or stream that will hug the ground, flow downhill, collect in lowlands, and silently and invisibly suffocate everything in its path. So far, only animal kills have been recorded in the USA, but the first insurance risk studies have already been done.

June 28, 2017 1:02 pm

So if we were to just pump the CO2 into the nearest large corn field, corn would grow much faster and during the daylight hours almost none of it would escape. Studies have shown that on calm days, corn fields stop photosynthesis by 1PM due to lack of CO2. Imagine how fast corn would grow if it were allowed to keep going all day!

June 28, 2017 2:39 pm

I am an Air Quality Control Engineer that has worked on coal fired plants my entire career. I worked on several DOE sponsored studies and can remember when we started having to calculate the CO2 produced by the reaction of calcium carbonate (limestone) with sulfur dioxide in scrubbers. It is so minuscule compared to the enormous quantity generated by the combustion of coal in the boiler. As time went on I realized that this was a method of getting the industry to become familiar with CO2 as being an emission, and ultimately a pollutant.
Worked on studies and analyses of new coal fired power plants with CCS that would have turbines built with steam extraction streams to send for CO2 sequestration. The flow of steam was significant and squashed the power plant efficiency. That by itself should had stopped the studies. But we continued to see how it would compare to alternative sources of electricity.
I helped investigate freezing the removed CO2 from coal fired power plants in missile shaped tanks, shipping the tanks out to the deep ocean, and dumping the frozen shaped CO2 into the ocean. We had to put weights on the front of the missile to make sure it sunk. What could go wrong?
To deep inject the CO2 you compress it to 1000 to 3000 psi, pipe it to the storage/injection site, and then inject it into deep formations. Think about the power required to compress tons of CO2 to those pressures. Then pipe it for miles and sometimes more miles under high compression. What could go wrong?
To remove the CO2 you had to take out almost all other impurities in the flue gas from the coal fired boilers. Example would be sulfur dioxide. The current removal of sulfur dioxide by scrubbers is 95%. That is reasonably achieved and is environmentally acceptable. You would need to remove 99.8% or higher to remove the CO2 from that same gas. The reason is reagent contamination. The reagent utilized to remove CO2 is very expensive, but can be recycled when removing CO2, so not much is lost. Add impurities to the gas and the reagent cannot be recycled as easily. So now you have to spend more money and use more power to increase the removal efficiencies of pollutants to meet the demands of the CCS.
The complications go on and on.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  GGrubbs
June 28, 2017 4:05 pm

GGrubbs – interesting about the extraction of CO2 from flue gas. I imagine once we recognize CO2 has value, nations will want to extract and sell ‘the base of the food chain’. It will be sold to commercial greenhouses to amplify the partial pressure of Carbon Dioxide to enhance plant production through photosynthesis. … I never saw this coming, but this means CO2 actually would be a |Greenhouse Gas|.

June 28, 2017 4:37 pm

If carbon dioxide is captured underground in significant quantities, within a few generations we will digging it back up again.

Reply to  ptolemy2
June 28, 2017 6:25 pm

Interesting point about digging up CO2 in the future. The industry has done such a great job removing sulfur dioxide from the gas generated by coal fired power plants that there is a shortage of sulfur in soils throughout the U.S. Farmers are buying excess gypsum generated from the removal of sulfur dioxide from coal fired power plants and spreading it on their fields. Think about that, we are spending money and using energy to remove sulfur dioxide from the gas, converting it to gypsum (a useful product in wallboard manufacturing), and selling the excess gypsum back to the farmers to spread it on their fields.
It would be so much more efficient to just allow the power plants to emit a bit more sulfur in the gas. That won’t happen, the environmentalists would go crazy. It is a crazy world.

Reply to  ptolemy2
June 29, 2017 3:48 am

Denbury Resources is digging it up today . Amazing that some people are paying to pull CO2 from the ground while others are simultaneously paying to put in back in.

June 28, 2017 5:03 pm

“We have spent countless millions trying to get carbon capture to work for coal-fired power stations. But in the future coal will mostly be used in the developing world, where CCS is going to be too expensive. Everyone else is moving to gas, for which CSS isn’t yet an option.”
And even if the technology can be made to work for gas, it would come at a price that “would make renewables and nuclear look cheap”.

No expense and no effort can be spared in destroying coal, oil and gas technologies (esp. the auto industry), so that the pet investments and other worthless products can be introduced to replace them. It is a shame that these young people emerging from universities are ignorant of the fact that they have just been weaponized in order to take down an industry. But they do get the false ethical moxie of saving the planet from abundantly naturally occurring compounds such as NO2 and benzene; CO2, N2O, CH4…
They aren’t paying too much for those degrees, are they?

Reply to  Zeke
June 28, 2017 6:38 pm

The statement “And even if the technology can be made to work for gas, it would come at a price that “would make renewables and nuclear look cheap” shows total lack of knowledge of this professor on the subject.
First of all it is already working for gas, combustion gases from coal fired plants. The waste gas generated by natural gas combustion produces less CO2 on a BTU basis as compared to coal, is a cleaner emission so clean up of the gas would be minimal, and because of these facts it is easier to remove the CO2.

Reply to  garywgrubbs
June 29, 2017 12:21 am

No it is not already working for gas. The newer requirements for emissions reductions will force gas plants to make updates that will increase costs for every one. And there is no reason for these CO2 regulations in the first place, so it is just another game regulators are playing to see who can destroy people’s purchasing power fastest and make shortages a reality soonest.
ref: I will give the relevant passage from the pdf below.

Reply to  garywgrubbs
June 29, 2017 5:11 am

Good point Zeke. I should have said technically can work on gas. But the regulators will not be happy with whatever removal can be obtained. The sulfur dioxide removal started at 70% in the early 80s, when that was achieved it kept going up to where it is now at 95%. The last coal fired power plant to obtain permits for construction in the U.S. was 99%. This was impossible to obtain just due to the reliability of the equipment and the variability of sulfur in the coal. The client had to agree to it to get the permits. The plant was never built, environmentalists killed it.

Reply to  garywgrubbs
June 29, 2017 8:36 am

garywgrubbs says, “But the regulators will not be happy with whatever removal can be obtained. The sulfur dioxide removal started at 70% in the early 80s, when that was achieved it kept going up to where it is now at 95%. The last coal fired power plant to obtain permits for construction in the U.S. was 99%.”
Yes sir, that is exactly the process we are trapped in. The EU and the EPA continually raise standards.In
turn, the expense of removing ubiquitous, benign gases from emissions has and will result in creating extremely high prices and shortages. So young people with degrees should not deceive themselves into thinking that they are doing anyone a service by introducing extremely expensive rube goldberg devices to attach to power plants and cars. They are instead brothers to great destroyers.
Graduates from universities should be warned that they are now the tools being used to put cars and reliable power out of reach for more people.
Or how about if every one just admits openly that they want to take what the inventors of the 18th-20th centuries created for every day use by ordinary people, and turn them all — one by one– into luxury items? We can quit playing these games with molecules from human activity, because that is endless..That is the scientific paradigm shift to the Anthropocene Age they are forcing, top down, on the rest of us.

Reply to  garywgrubbs
June 29, 2017 11:51 am

To reinforce what Zeke stated: I used sulfur dioxide as an example of ratcheting down of emission limits. Particulates are regulated to 99.8% removal. That was achieved and then PM10 became the issue. Those cannot be removed by standard particulate collection devices, they are aerosols. So more expensive equipment required. NOx was regulated at 70%, now 90%. SO3 is not an issue but it turned the plume for the stacks blue so it became an opacity issue. More equipment and reagents. Then mercury became the next air pollutant. More equipment and reagents. All of this equipment costs money to build, operate and maintain and added to the cost of electricity.
The EPA is currently forcing all coal fired plants to cease utilizing ponds to store bottom ash, even lined ponds. Dry disposal is possible and being done but more expensive. The next area that is being regulated is the waste water from plants. These system are extremely expensive to build and operate. Some of the limits are so low that they cannot be measured, but that does not stop the EPA.

June 28, 2017 6:30 pm

The Netherlands does not need a report to tell them that CCS is expensive. Two Dutch energy companies just withdrew from a big CCS pilot-project near Rotterdam. According to one of the companies, the project is no longer viable.
Original article in Dutch:
Google translate version:

John from Europe
June 28, 2017 9:20 pm

Carbon capture?
Grow some trees.

Tom Schaefer
June 29, 2017 5:30 am

Russ George has an extremely cheap way to remove carbon dioxide that feeds people and restores the oceans. It seems like a criminal conspiracy that we are not iron seeding the oceans at this point.

Reply to  Tom Schaefer
June 29, 2017 12:44 pm

You would be spending money on a scheme with unknown long-term consequences to solve a wholly fictitious problem. Iron fertilization doesn’t suddenly make sense because CCS doesn’t.

Jon Jewett
June 29, 2017 8:44 pm

Follow the money.
“In 2009, DOE greatly increased its funding for CCS
by allocating approximately $3.38 billion in funding”
DOE memo from 2013

Reply to  Jon Jewett
June 30, 2017 6:25 am

That is one big cash trough.

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