Renewables are a better investment than carbon capture for tackling climate change

Who knew that shooting yourself in the foot was less harmful than shooting yourself in the head?~ctm

Lancaster University

Solar panels and wind turbines coupled with energy storage offer a better hope for tackling climate change than trying to capture carbon from fossil fuel power stations, according to new research published by Nature Energy.

Carbon capture technologies – that is new, or as yet undeveloped, technologies that capture CO2 emissions from coal and gas-fired power stations – play a fundamental part within the models that serve as the basis of international agreements to tackle climate change, such as at the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015.

However, new research shows that resources that would be spent on developing and installing carbon capture technologies would be better invested in creating more solar panels and wind turbines and focusing on developing energy storage options to support these instead.

An international team of researchers from Lancaster University, Khalifa University, Clemson University, UiT The Arctic University and the University of Florence, have calculated the energy output after taking into account the energy needed to create and operate the system, for carbon capture technologies across a range of fossil fuel power stations – including coal and natural gas.

They compared these results with the energy return on energy invested for renewable energy systems, such as wind farms and solar panels, combined with various kinds of energy storage systems, such as batteries, hydrogen or pumped hydro-power and discovered that worst cases of renewables, with storage, compare to the best examples of carbon capture.

The researchers calculate that this is, in part, due to net energy losses from implementing carbon capture – which includes penalties caused by the energy needed to build, and then operate, the carbon capture and storage processes. In addition, the equipment, such as pipes and compressors, needed to capture and store carbon also needs energy to produce – which is known as embodied energy.

All this results in a reduced net energy output from power stations with carbon capture.

The energy return on energy invested for wind turbines and solar panels depends on the energy costs to build the panels and turbines themselves, and also on how sunny or windy the place is where they are installed.

However, even moderately efficient renewable locations provide a better energy return than the majority of carbon capture technologies.

Dr Denes Csala, a Lecturer in Energy Storage and System Dynamics at Lancaster University and co-author of the research, said: “It is more valuable, energetically, to invest the available energy resources directly into building new renewable energy and storage capacity rather than building new fossil-fuel power stations with carbon capture.

“The better net energy return of investing in renewable energy makes it more likely to meet emission targets without risking a reduction in energy availability, due to dwindling fossil fuel supplies and a climate-constrained emissions budget.

“Given its net energy disadvantages, carbon capture and storage should be considered a niche and supplementary contributor to the energy system, rather than be seen as a critical technology option as current climate agreements view it.”

The research is a world-first to compare these technologies using net energy analysis and it is outlined in the paper ‘Comparative net energy analysis of renewable electricity and carbon capture and storage’, published by Nature Energy.


The paper’s authors are: Sgouris Sgouridis, of Masdar Institute, Khalifa University; Michael Carbajales-Dale, of Clemson University; Denes Csala, of Lancaster University; Matteo Chiesa of UiT The Arctic University of Norway; Ugo Bardi, of the University of Florence.

DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0365-7

From EurekAlert!

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April 9, 2019 2:46 am

How exactly is no effect on climate change better than no effect on climate change?

They are both schemes to destroy wealth, with no benefit for the climate.

Reply to  BillP
April 9, 2019 4:04 am

Anybody with 2 working neurons should be able to realize this is complete BS. Unfortunately the millennials were spoiled by their baby boomer parents and grandparents and barely have 1 hypoxic neuron.

Reply to  David
April 9, 2019 6:45 am

It wasn’t their parents. It was the schools. See for two school systems and their effects on teacher quality and the development of responsibility and knowledge in students.

The boomers’ teachers were bright. Boomers thought their kids were getting the same education they did. But today’s teacher’s are the dumbest that can still graduate from college.

Bill Powers
Reply to  ladylifegrows
April 9, 2019 11:09 am

It is the combination of schools with government bureaucrats. Bureaucrats were always the dumbest of the dumb but legal lobbyists have managed to game the system to were the dumbest get paid 40% more for comparable private sector jobs and they receive Cadillac healthcare coverage and pensions.

All it took was private sector workers to be distracted by the media with nonsense not unlike CAGW, while the lawyers and politicians allowed Public Sector employees to organize and collectively bargain at a pay and benefits table were the private sector taxpayer had no seat at the table. Each meeting goes quick and sounds something like this “2 for you 1 for me. 2 for you 1 for me…””

Private sector workers have been kept so busy achieving and advancing to earn their way that they didn’t have the time or resources to pay attention to this massive scam that the lawyers on K street and the politicians pulled over our eyes. IT is GOOD to work as bureaucrat COMRADE.

ferd berple
Reply to  BillP
April 9, 2019 7:37 am

The article itself is quoting impossibly high numbers for EROEI. For example 9:1 return minimum for renewables. If this was true we would have no need to subsidize.

But sadly it just ain’t so. Ass soon as you convert everything into dollars it becomes abundantly clear that over their lifetime renewables barely produce enough energy to pay replacement costs. If it wasn’t for cheap fossil fuels being used to create solar panels and windmills, there wouldn’t be any. It takes a solar panel almost 20 years at wholesale prices to capture enough energy to produce another panel.

This us the elephant in the china shop. Once life cycle costs are taken into account, most of the energy produced by renewables is consumed in paying for the renewables.

Renewables are like drilling for oil, and finding just enough oil to pay back the cost of drilling with nothing left over to run you car or heat your house. It only works if you subsidize the cost of drilling from some other source.

Reply to  ferd berple
April 9, 2019 10:03 am

In John Lennon’s seminal song … which seems to provide all the inspiration for leftist governance today … Imagine. Wherein he “imagined” no borders, “imagined” no wars, “imagined” no religion, … he also “imagined” no greed or need … i.e. no money. So, in the minds of the CAGWists … energy should be, and will be FREE! It does not matter how long the life cycle cost of a solar panel is. The replacement panel will be FREE! Paid for by “the State” … built by “the people” … for a wage equal to every other wage in our newly “imagined” eco-socialist state. In this newly “imagined” eco-Nirvana … energy use will be regulated by the State, so when the “renewable” solar panels don’t produce energy, you don’t get to use energy. Grab another sweater and blanket (knitted for FREE, by State knitters).

But, until The People can all “imagine” a wonderful, benevolent, imaginary Universal worldwide eco-State of Nirvana where everyone and everything is “equal” … the current State of leftist politicians will TAX the sh*t out of fossil fuel use as punishment for delaying their Nirvana with income inequality. They will FORCE energy poverty on the people … until they (we) BEG for their Universal Totalitarian eco-State to save us.

Reply to  ferd berple
April 10, 2019 10:31 am

[Note, bald links are discouraged. Please include a line or two explaining why you’re posting the link so fellow commenters dont feel like they’re being escorted into a blind alley… -mod]

Ron Long
April 9, 2019 2:53 am

Good find, CTM. Now find a report comparing the cost and efficiency of nuclear versus bird choppers versus carbon capture. The nuclear power industry could build modern reactors with many innovative safety features and long-term, low-cost output, and just to be safe, locate them with nothing down-wind. How can a sane person advocate building more wind turbines (bird-choppers) and solar arrays with liquid sodium canisters (bird streamers/smokers) as an offset to anything? Three Mile Island? Big nothing burger! Why do people think there have not been any improvements in nuclear power generation in the last 40 years? Go nuclear!

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Ron Long
April 9, 2019 3:56 am

Found this in NSPE’s daily brief:
Great for American Companies and India but partial Paris avoidance—really??? How about just because India needs the electricity!!

Curious George
Reply to  Ron Long
April 9, 2019 8:41 am

Energy storage? Only super-rich can afford it today, and they don’t buy it, leaving it to municipal systems run by high-diversity councils – or by Labor governments.

The authors even dropped the “then a miracle happens” box from their investment advice.

April 9, 2019 3:16 am

‘Renewables’ are a better waste of your money than carbon capture for tackling climate change.

charles the moderate

Joe G
April 9, 2019 3:18 am

The easiest way to tackle climate change would be to leave the historical data alone. Then most of the change just vanishes.

Hocus Locus
April 9, 2019 3:29 am

I have a NEW CRITERION for evaluating all published research and articles that discuss climate and energy policy. I search the text for the word ‘nuclear’ and if it isn’t found… or if it is brought up in a dismissive or thinly disparaging way… or even if it appears at the very end of a list after wind, solar… I close the tab on my web browser immediately and then clear the cache on my disk to prevent contamination.

Which allows to browse Watts Up With That freely for even if the guest author or cited foundation material does not consider nuclear energy the solution to a problem, there is always someone in the comments who does. I’ll be devoting all that free time I have from passing over material from (nuclear, what’s that?) source material to my new amateur radio hobby.

Spalding Craft
Reply to  Hocus Locus
April 9, 2019 5:08 am

I’m sympathetic to the view that more nuclear is what we need. However none are under construction in the U.S. (other than Vogtle in Ga – old technology). I’ll buy that politics is a large part of the problem, but we need some working sites, that were built without huge cost overruns and delays, to validate that nuclear really is part of the energy solution.

So far nuclear advocates have nothing to provide encouragement to those who are sympathetic to their cause. Who is going to provide the political moxie to start to build nuclear as a possible solution?

Reply to  Spalding Craft
April 9, 2019 6:03 am

China is moving forward with new nuclear. I recall reading that they are contracting to build them for clients at about 1/3 the price quoted for new installations in EU/UK/USA by non-chinese contactors.

William Astley
Reply to  Paul Stevens
April 9, 2019 1:23 pm

We need a fission energy up.

Note the red book states that there is 80 years of uranium left, based on current consumption. This is criminal as there is a burner design that is six times more fuel efficient and that is the only thermal spectrum design that can be used as a breeder reactor.

There is a fog around nuclear engineering that is protecting the obsolete designs. This is basic engineering pros/con comparison of the designs.

There is an old fission reactor design, that is mass produceable, cheap as coal to build and operate, produces 1/9th amount of transuranics, that is six times more fuel efficient, that does not have any catastrophic failure modes, and is roughly one 1/5th cost, that we tested 50 years ago and then hid the documentation and did not prepare a written executive summary for congress.

There is a Canadian company that has reached Canadian phase 2 approval for the rediscovered liquid fuel, no fuel rod, no water reactor design.

Interesting story.

The liquid fuel (molten salt) test (50 years ago) was done by the inventor of the pressure water reactor. The salt used is the best chemically possible. The testing team eliminated all other options.

The test was completely successful.

The inventor of the pressure water reactor after the test met with individual members of congress telling them that large pressure water reactors are not safe (due to natural faults of that design) and that we should switch to liquid fuel reactor which is six times more fuel efficient and that does not have any catastrophic failure modes.

The congressional nuclear leader of time somehow arrange to hid the test results (as it was too good). A NASA engineer when looking for a fission reactor design 15 years ago the test and found the documentation.

The NASA engineer was shown in a PBS nuclear documentary and went on to get a PHD in nuclear engineering. Kirk noted that his nuclear engineering professions has no knowledge concerning the liquid fuel, molten salt reactor. The majority of the nuclear engineering courses was concerning managing the faults of pressure water reactor.

The molten salt fission reactor design that was tested 50 years ago is the most efficient possible thermal spectrum reactor possible and then hid the test results.

We can build liquid fuel, no fuel rod, no water reactors for 1/5th the cost of a pressure water reactor.

The liquid fuel reactors are six times more fuel efficient and do not have any of the catastrophic failure modes..

william Johnston
Reply to  Spalding Craft
April 9, 2019 6:39 am

Would a junket to France to study their nuclear base would be beneficial.

Reply to  william Johnston
April 9, 2019 9:20 am

Most of France’s nukes are adaptations of Westinghouse technology from years ago. What they succeed in doing was replicating a standard design, giving them economies of scale in spare parts and procedures. American had to tinker with the design and make each one unique. Even “twin” plants on the same site can have differences that must be accounted for.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  oeman50
April 9, 2019 10:13 am

A great deal of the problem for American nuclear power is the interminable permitting process combined with on-the-fly regulatory changes during construction. Stuff has to be pulled out, scrapped, then replaced by whatever flavor-of-the-day “improvement” some lard-headed pencil pusher thinks is the best thing since sliced bread. Even plants that are operating have to retrofit safety improvements regardless of cost.

Ron Long
Reply to  william Johnston
April 9, 2019 10:58 am

For sure, William, because many of the nuclear plants are in the middle of vineyards, with bodegas included, and you could have just the greatest lunch and come away really happy.

Reply to  Spalding Craft
April 9, 2019 8:21 am

Check out a 20′ 30-ton container with 250 MWs Thermal. Four large container ships can carry enough of the shippable nukes to add the projected need for power by 2050.

The Case for the Good Reactor

April 9, 2019 3:33 am

We must stop worshiping totems.

Non Nomen
April 9, 2019 3:37 am

Tackling climate change? Nonsense. If there is any, then adapt and enjoy life and stop worrying.

Reply to  Non Nomen
April 9, 2019 4:56 am

Oh noes.. The Climate Change has invaded my house and warmed it by 1.5 degrees. Maybe I should switch off the heater like a good Green Blobbist before it becomes catastrophic at 2 because AOC knows what’ll happen.

Federico Bär
Reply to  Non Nomen
April 10, 2019 9:01 am

Glad to read that I’m not alone, NN! It was my thought too, but frankly speaking, I was “afraid” it would be considered an irresponsible attitude. I anticipated reproaching voices around me:” How can you say that. Don’t you see that something MUST be done?”.
I now also see it as an excellent suggestion. Thanks for your unrequested support!

April 9, 2019 3:49 am

Whatever happened to that idea of capturing CO2 gas inside the Earth’s cavities, old coal mines, depleted oil wells and other dark places? I think I know what happened to all that. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in ‘research’ activities, they arrived to my own conclusion I arrived at BEFORE they commenced the expensive ‘research’ (read sinecures), which had costed me nothing, that it cannot work.

old construction worker
Reply to  Alex
April 9, 2019 6:09 am

‘Whatever happened to that idea of capturing CO2 gas inside ….’ I want to know what utilities companies are going to do with the CO2 besides just storing it.

Reply to  old construction worker
April 9, 2019 8:01 am

Sell it. CO2 is valuable. There is a huge market for pure CO2.

Reply to  old construction worker
April 9, 2019 11:19 pm

You cn actually turn CO2 in fuel and burn it … we are already doing it … the irony 🙂
There are QM groups working on the catalytics to bring the cost down even further and if they manage it the greens and lefties are going to be crying.

Reply to  Alex
April 9, 2019 9:01 am

If carbon capture managed to decrease the level of CO2 in the atmosphere there would be a decrease in the demands for alternative power sources and other schemes.

April 9, 2019 3:49 am

Renewables won’t work for the amount of electricity that we use so they’re not better.

The greenies are coming to the realization that renewables can’t possibly supply the required energy. The true picture is that, to rely on renewables we have to shrink the economy. link

Joel O’Bryan
April 9, 2019 4:36 am

If I read between the lines, the study authors don’t like CCS technology because it ultimately enables continued FF use, which they consider delaying the inevitable need to switch to a sustainable energy solution. They just assume that wind and solar systems that solution.
It is pretty clear though that both CCS and wind and solar are colossal waste of resources.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 9, 2019 5:39 am

Probably why they didn’t include EOR.

April 9, 2019 4:36 am

We need to develop grant capture technology and divert it to nuclear R&D.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Alasdair
April 9, 2019 9:59 am

“grant capture technology”

Good one! 🙂

April 9, 2019 4:42 am

Hey, here’s the answer!

Just sprinkle a little iron dust on the oceans. That stimulates the growth of phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton grow using carbon dissolved in the upper ocean. When they die, some sink, taking carbon to the deep ocean, and more atmospheric carbon diffuses into the upper ocean. link

We can keep burning fossil fuels and prevent global warming. What could possibly go wrong?

Bruce Cobb
April 9, 2019 4:44 am

CCS was always the fake solution to a faux problem that the carbonistas love to trot out every so often just so they can kick it under the bus. And now the bloom is off the rose even for their fave “solutions” of wind and solar, so they’ve started latching on to the third rail of – gasp, nuclear. Fun watching them go down in flames.

Tom Johnson
April 9, 2019 4:58 am

When I start a project such as the ones discussed, I will make a rough estimate of the success potential, using approximations, calculations, and ‘rules of thumb’. Often a mental estimate is adequate, sometimes the back of an envelop is enough space, and sometimes even a full sheet of paper is necessary. Using this, I find that BOTH ‘carbon capture’ and ‘renewables’ are foolish. Their relative magnitude is irrelevant.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Tom Johnson
April 9, 2019 1:48 pm

Only cost-effective application would be to locate a Coke or Pepsi nearby and pipe it to their storage. Maybe a Fire Extinguisher Manufacturer with the excess piped to Greenhouses full of Pot plants.

April 9, 2019 5:17 am

After billions spent by the Dept. of Energy to get carbon dioxide capture to work, its failure means that it is not an option to be compared to anything. You can show any sketch you want of well injection, but it turns out the well injection has to occur where the geology is favorable, but alas, that is not where power plants were ever put. Piping CO2 500 miles to a storage field is not economical, ever.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 9, 2019 5:29 am

It works very well when it’s used for enhanced oil recovery…

CO2 captured from the W.A. Parrish Unit 8 coal-fired generator and injected into West Ranch oil field very quickly boosted oil production in the WEST RANCH (41-A & 98-A CONS.) unit from about 100 BOPD to 3-4,000 BOPD.

April 9, 2019 5:21 am

Apart from general idiocy, there are two serious problems with this “research”…

1) “They compared these results with the energy return on energy invested for renewable energy systems”… EROEI is a a mind mindbogglingly idiotic concept. The bottom line isn’t denominated in joules, watts or Btu… It’s denominated in $$$.

1 barrel of crude oil = 5,722,000 Btu
1,000 cubic feet of natural gas = 1,037,000 Btu

Current prices:
WTI = $64.40/bbl = $11.25/million Btu
Natural gas (Henry Hub) = $2.70/mcf = $2.60/million Btu

2) It appears that using the captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery was not considered by these academic pinheads…

Kevin kilty
April 9, 2019 5:28 am

Carbon capture is a sort of ritual where we take about one-third of the availability released from burning fossil fuels and bury it in some manner as a sacrifice to modern gods.

The one place where it might, and I want to emphasize my hedge, might make sense is as an injection fluid for enhanced recovery of fossil fuels–as a positive feedback for more CO2 ultimately.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 9, 2019 5:38 am


The only “might” is in bringing either the costs down or oil prices up.

And it would only be a positive CO2 feedback, if it increased total crude oil consumption. If it just resulted in domestic CO2 EOR oil replacing imports, it would likely be a net negative.

kent beuchert
April 9, 2019 5:41 am

It’s astounding how competely ignorant low carbon champions tend to be in avoiding the 800 pound gorilla sitting in the room : molten salt nuclear power. The only explanation is that these low carbon champions are so anti-nuclear that they don’t even realize that molten salt nuclear satisfies all of the compaints they have against conventional light water nuclear reactors, ignorant though they may be : cost, safety, nuclear proliferation.

Steve O
Reply to  kent beuchert
April 9, 2019 6:01 am

They’ve spent their entire lives opposing nuclear power and have been almost completely successful in squashing its use and development. What sort of internal rationalization mechanisms would break if they had to reverse course and advocate FOR nuclear power because it’s the saviour of mankind?

Curious George
Reply to  kent beuchert
April 9, 2019 10:11 am

When can I get to see a working prototype?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Curious George
April 9, 2019 10:23 am

That would be the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that went critical on June 1, 1965 and ran for about 20,000 hours. Your Google-fu is very weak.

Curious George
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
April 9, 2019 10:33 am

How much electricity did it produce? (Zero)

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Curious George
April 9, 2019 8:39 pm

It generated power at 7.4 MW, limited by the cooling system. Really, you’re not even trying.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
April 9, 2019 12:39 pm

A working prototype would be something that actually produces power. Not something sitting on a lab bench.

Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2019 7:06 am

It did produce power. The facility is still there as well.

John Endicott
Reply to  Curious George
April 11, 2019 9:40 am

When can I get to see a working prototype?

More importantly, where can I get to see one in commercial operation. a prototype in the lab is one thing, an actual commercial operation is something else. It’s been over 5 decades since Oak Ridge first started their experiment and there’s nothing to show for it. Perhaps the unexpected inter-granular cracking in the metal surfaces that Oak ridge discovered might just be an issue for commercial operations?

April 9, 2019 5:50 am

Obviously they will oppose anything other than the unreliables.
I bet their EROI comparison doesn’t include losses from storage (converting to hydrogen, then some easily storable fuel, and back is quite wasteful) and energy embedded in all the electrolyzers, chemical reactors, and fuel cells.

Reply to  Sobaken
April 9, 2019 11:22 pm

That is because only renewables and emission control redistributes wealth which is what this is all about.

Climate Science not only wants to control what the measurements are but the solutions … what other discipline gets to do that 🙂

Steve O
April 9, 2019 5:54 am

It sounds like they MAY have structured their analysis properly. They talk about energy systems. Was their system that was based on renewables able to meet the demand pattern for power of a typical grid over a period of time?

Why don’t we have these energy storage systems today? Why are they calling for the construction of more wind and solar power instead of calling for the construction of energy storage systems?

April 9, 2019 6:18 am

I have not checked with the WUWT back catalogue yet and no doubt there have been posts by professional
nuclear engineers and academics in the past but I cannot remember a recent comprehensive article on nuclear energy prospects in the West, using current conventional technology which China uses (I think), rather than the commercially untested molten salt reactors that some here have advocated.
Yet , although nuclear power is taboo in Germany and US, that is not the case elsewhere in the world and China , for example, appears to be able to build medium capacity power stations for anyone at the drop of a hat (or a few billions in £ or $ from UK or US foreign aid to the nation involved).
So it does not seem technically difficult to build nuclear power stations, and they are , once up and running, carbon free, so why is it so difficult for any one but the Chinese to do?
Another question: why did Westinghouse go bankrupt? Their history is full of firsts in the electrical engineering sector and their scientists and engineers produced more patents than all but 2 other US companies. What went wrong?

Reply to  mikewaite
April 9, 2019 8:11 am

China has an authoritarian government, so it can easily ignore any public discontent that surrounds nuclear power, it doesn’t have to deal with ideological groups such as western NGOs because those are restricted or banned, and it doesn’t have privatization in key industries like energy.
Coincidentally, most nuclear power plants today are being built in countries that are not liberal or particularly democratic.
So in short, two things went wrong: green activism being allowed to gain any traction, and shifting from a top down to a market approach.

Jeff Alberts
April 9, 2019 6:28 am

“tackling climate change”

There’s that infantile phrase again. How much “climate change” do they intend to tackle? Do they want a completely static climate? No wind, no rain, no tides? Those are the questions no one asks or answers. As long as the earth is spinning on its axis, the moon is orbiting the earth, and the earth is revolving around the sun, we’ll have climate change.

Steve O
April 9, 2019 6:31 am

If by “energy storage” they mean pumped hydro then they must recognize that implementation is limited by geography. Let’s assume that pumped hydro is implemented in whatever limited way is feasible. Then the remaining choice is between carbon capture and the LESS efficient energy storage systems such as batteries.

By failing to recognize that the “more efficient” energy storage systems are limited, they are advocating for more wind and solar based on a comparison that is not relevant.

D Anderson
April 9, 2019 6:48 am

Giving us the illusion of a choice.

Like we tried on our kids – would you like to eat your broccoli first or your green beans?

They too saw through it in about 5 ms.

April 9, 2019 7:01 am

These two “solutions” to stopping a climate optimum are both EVIL because CO2 is the basis of all life on land.

Neither would have a detectable impact on temperatures, and both are monstrously expensive, which reduces resources for real environmental activity. Those are serious reasons to oppose each of them.

But why leave our most powerful argument in the bag?

Farmer Ch E retired
April 9, 2019 7:12 am

“. . . energy to produce – which is known as embodied energy.”

One positive in this research is they took into account embodied energy. More researchers should consider embodied energy and embodied CO2 emissions. If embodied energy and emissions were considered in a rigorous fashion, I predict that many renewable energy projects would never make it off the drawing board. Also, it would be great if they took into consideration the fact that CO2 is the food stock for carbon-based life earth. Give CO2 the credit it deserves.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
April 9, 2019 7:19 am

Thanks for your EROEI comment that it’s a stupid concept. It’s not the energy return, It’s the return on the money that matters.

Thanks for suggesting a focus on conventional nuclear. Molten salt reactors are a distraction from a nuclear renaissance because there is no chance for commercial operation in the next 20 years. NuScale SMR’s might have a chance and needs to replace wind and solar idiocy beginning in 2026 when the first one goes commercial.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
April 9, 2019 12:41 pm

There is always something in the that in 20 years might prove to be the next big thing.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
April 9, 2019 6:58 pm

There are really two paths that need to be followed:

1) Safe reliable nuclear reactors that can be built as standardized units NOW.
2) Continued research into future reactors that can burn waste and thorium, and the recycling of wastes safely.
(oh wait…, and 3) Research better power plants for space exploration, but not at NASA which is has become a hopeless bureaucracy.)

The future is going to be nuclear, and we need to be able to recycle the waste so that we reduce the buried waste to 5% of what it is today – that requires we support further research. This kind of research is the type that the U.S. government should sponsor, since there is no immediate profit that would lead a business to invest so much.

Yeah. I actually said the U.S. Government should fund something…go figure. The government used to be able to build rockets and send people to the moon, now all it seems to be able to do is hopelessly waste money and then give up. So we should be funding a collection of private companies to do the research, not trying to do it within the government.

April 9, 2019 7:28 am

Clean, green renewable drivers, and gray technology with variable value.

April 9, 2019 7:30 am

Agree w/CTM, both ideas are just plain dumb — one just dumber than the other.

CJ Fritz
April 9, 2019 7:41 am

OK, so am I missing something here? We start out by defining carbon capture as-
“Carbon capture technologies – that is new, or as yet undeveloped, technologies that capture CO2 emissions from coal and gas-fired power stations”
How exactly, can you evaluate the productivity of a technology that does not, as yet, exist?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I am all for solar and wind power- on a personal scale, not industrial. The former is a giant middle finger to the power utilities in my eyes, (at least for me, as in my neck of the woods, it would cost me $28,000 just to get lines back in here, and then around $80/month BEFORE I even use a watt of their power…) the latter is a fool’s folly, and completely unrealistic.
I am off-grid completely, and use solar and wind, but I also burn FF in the gen when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind isn’t blowing if the batteries need a top up.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
April 9, 2019 8:06 am

Molten salt reactors not ready for Prime time:
Hastelloy N in molten salt is ok at 700C but the reactor-to-hydrogen-production-plant heat transfer system reach over 800 °C.. Material development “is ongoing.”

April 9, 2019 8:07 am

I’d stay 500 miles from any carbon capture storage facility.
It’s an inert heavy gas. It’s sinks to the ground and won’t dissipate until mixed out by wind alone. If there is a rupture and millions of tons of CO2 escapes you’ve got a potential disaster bigger than a nuclear bomb going off.

Curious George
Reply to  Davidq
April 9, 2019 10:08 am

Lake Nyos in Cameroon was a natural CO2 storage. It killed 1700 people in 1986.

ferd berple
April 9, 2019 8:07 am

The EROEI of 9:1 return minimum for renewables quoted in the article works out to slightly more than 12% minimum annual return on investment.

Any investment that has a minimum 12% annual return on investment has absolutely no need of government subsidies. Private investors would be lining up to get in on the deal.

Dennis Sandberg
Reply to  ferd berple
April 9, 2019 11:43 am

ferd berple
EROEI of 9:1 perfect example of what David & I commented on earlier. EROEI is a stupid meaningless concept. It’s not the energy input output ratio that matters it’s the quantity and quality of the energy output cost that matters. Solar and wind are unreliable, interruptible, non-dispatchable. Basically worthless without 95% backup conventional power.

April 9, 2019 9:36 am

Carbon capture is like sending tax credits to underground storage for a fee. That is equivalent to a negative productivity incentive overall. Digging ditches or rock collecting on the moon would be more productive.

Rod Evans
April 9, 2019 10:30 am

If renewables are now confirmed as a better investment option than carbon capture, that just about confirms carbon capture should be abandoned as an idea all together.
Renewables have a hopeless efficiency record, have a hopeless financial return record (ignoring state subsidies) they have a hopeless reliability record, and a hopeless record of enhancing the environment or saving rare birds from being chopped to death by wing tips of giant turbine machines.
Now if that presents a preferable case for investment over carbon capture, then for the sake of our children and grandchildren we need to go nuclear energy and gas fired power stations to keep people warm in winter and cool in summer.
Thank you Lancaster Uni you have confirmed what we all knew but hadn’t bothered to document.

CD in Wisconsin
April 9, 2019 11:05 am

“…After years of hard work and dedication, a third of the power generated around the world is now linked to renewable energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) just released new data that shows impressive growth in both wind and solar energy, which has contributed to the changes in energy sources around the globe….”

It boggles my mind how renewables (primarily wind and solar) advocates can keep spreading the religion that their preferred energy source is the wave of the future and is making impressive gains — and say it with a straight face. I’m at a loss to understand where IRENA obtained is one-third number from for energy “linked” to renewables. What do they mean by “linked?”

The pie chart below, although it is a little dated now, shows only a 6.8% electrical energy penetration for renewables globally as of January 2015. For all energy sources, it is only 2.5%. IRENA (The International Renewable Energy Association) is living in a fantasy world with its one-third number.

Barring some technological breakthrough, CCS is just as much of a fantasy as renewables.

Gordon Dressler
April 9, 2019 11:42 am

The “international team of researchers” that published the article referenced above made the sophomoric mistake of failing to first demonstrate that atmospheric levels of CO2—let alone, changes in atmospheric CO2 due to mankind—have any significant effect on Earth’s Climate Change (TM).

Without citing credible evidence that this is definitely true (and there is much evidence to the contrary . . . remember, correlation does not equal causation), everything else in the publication is rubbish.

James Clarke
April 9, 2019 11:48 am

In a related story…

Research funded by the Stark Foundation indicates that the Seven Kingdoms will be better served by mining and shaping obsidian, over trying to mass produce quality Valyrian Steel for the war on climate change. Professor John Snow, lead investigator on the study, said: “Considering the pressing need for a solution, the abundance of readily available obsidian and the difficulty in obtaining the natural resources required to mass produce the steel, we have determined dragon glass to be the superior solution. Winter is Coming!”

(As long as we are talking about make-believe solutions to make-believe problems…)

Wiliam Haas
April 9, 2019 12:20 pm

The reality is that the climate change that we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and there is plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. So neither renewables or carbon capture will have any effect on climate.

April 9, 2019 12:36 pm

Who knew that shooting yourself in the foot was less harmful than shooting yourself in the head?~ctm

#define yourself
#define harmful

I sometimes wish these green bastaads would live in one place and were making harm to themselves instead of me. But no, they shoot me in my head and call it climate justice.

Stephen Richards
April 9, 2019 12:54 pm

Who knew that shooting yourself in the foot was less harmful than shooting yourself in the head?~ctm

Pulitzer Prize, right there

April 9, 2019 4:41 pm

I can almost never find a previously read article on WUWT, which perhaps means I don’t think about them as other people do or some such; I just can’t think of proper search terms. Anyway, maybe someone else can.

About a year or so ago there was an article here about a person who had spent decades (starting, I think, in the 60s) trying to figure out an economical way to capture the CO2 produced in a gas fired power plant. The reason was that CO2 is so valuable, especially to the oil industry, this could be a significant profit center for a power plant.

Recently, with some help and financing, he finally had something that seemed to work AND did not reduce the electrical output of the plant significantly per amount of methane used. He had a grant, probably Federal, to build a pilot plant somewhere in Texas convenient to delivery of said CO2 to oil fields.

I’ve seen nothing about it since. Did it work? Is the plant not yet finished? Was the WUWT article a spoof?

April 9, 2019 5:40 pm

Increasing efficiency of all devices and systems is the single greatest gain we can make over CO2 production and environmental destruction.

Teaching everyone on Earth who currently cooks over an open fire how to make an enclosed combustion pit will reduce CO2 output _and pollution_ by about 8%.

Forcing companies to reduce density within cities, creating and enforcing well made mass transit systems, reducing obesity by nutritional education and complex food availability will drop another 6% off.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  Prjindigo
April 9, 2019 5:53 pm

“Forcing companies to . . .”

What a world of sins can be hidden under that blanket statement.

John Endicott
Reply to  Prjindigo
April 12, 2019 9:20 am

Forcing companies to…

Who put you in charge to force companies to do anything?

Alan Tomalty
April 9, 2019 9:28 pm

Pumped storage and production of ammonia seem the best bets in long term future of renewables. In any case all subsidies should be taken off and let everything compete in marketplace.

Johann Wundersamer
April 14, 2019 12:10 pm

“Given its net energy disadvantages, carbon capture and storage should be considered as a complementary and supplementary contributor to the energy system, rather than as a critical technology option as current climate agreements view it.”

Old offer in new packaging on the shelf:

The authors of this “study” very well know that “conventional” fossil fuels need to be kept ready to safeguard the unreliable, intermittent “green energy”.

A mere exchange of labels: “needed” vs “supplementary”.

With “cap and trade”, please.

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