Pathway 2045 (6)

Here are links to Part 1Part 2,   Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5~ctm

Guest post by Rud Istvan,

This is the sixth and final guest post dissecting SoCalEd’s new roadmap to full California (well, at least their southern California service territory) decarbonization by 2045. This last part of the plan is ‘simple’: sink the remaining CO2 through either biological or physical (carbon capture and sequestration, CCS) means.


The figure estimates this to be 108 million metric tons of CO2 (not carbon) per year, with trees preferred. The 108mmt estimate assumes that the four other plan elements are fully implemented. As the previous posts in this series have explained, that is highly unlikely. To the extent they aren’t, the amount needing to be sunk is much larger. As we shall show below, California runs out of trees.


The Alabama Forestry Service has a ‘carbon in wood’ pamphlet providing a starting number. There is about 1 ton of actual carbon in two tons of dry wood. The molecular weight of CO2 is 44 (ignoring isotopes) of which 12 is carbon. So 108 million metric tons of CO2 is about (108*[12/44]) 29.5 million metric tons of actual carbon, requiring about (29.5*2) 59 million metric tons of wood growth per year. That is a LOT of trees, especially for semiarid/desert southern California.

Trees grow slower when older. That is why Alabama’s southern yellow pine (actually about 20 different species) is harvested at about 20 years for pulp, and at about 40-60 years for plywood peeler blocks and lumber.

There are many published studies of annual tree carbon sink rates, since tree biomass is about 90 percent of the global terrestrial total. A typical per tree temperate zone carbon sink rate is about 10-15Kg/year depending on species and age. So SoCalEd needs AT LEAST (29.5E6 metric tons of carbon sunk per year *1E3 kg per metric ton/10 to 15 kg per year) 2 to 3 billion trees.

California forestry surveys estimate about 7.1 billion trees total of all types, of which at least 129 million are standing dead from drought or bark beetles. Biological carbon sinks appear to be a viable part of the SoCalEd plan—provided California’s utilities stop causing large forest fires.

Except for one problem. The 2 to 3 billion trees needed are new trees for future emissions, not California’s existing trees already doing the job. No double counting. SoCalEd will have to find somebody, someplace, willing to be paid to plant a few billion trees and nurture them for centuries. Dunno who or where, and SoCalEd doesn’t either.


CCS is not viable. Many projects have been proposed, but only one large commercial project has been attempted, SaskPower’s Boundary Dam generating station in Canada. One of its four coal fired units (BD3) was converted to CCS in 2014, with the captured CO2 sold to the nearby Weyburn field for tertiary oil recovery.

BD3 CCS has been more than just problematic for SaskPower. After 5 years of tweaking, it is presently operating only about 65% of the time because of chronic maintenance issues. The CCS parasitic load was planned to be about 25%, but is actually about 35%, meaning BD3 only produces about 100Mw of saleable electricity from its 150Mw generator.

Little wonder that all other announced commercial scale CCS projects have been canceled. MIT’s now defunct CCS Technologies program still maintains a global list of 43 proposed CCS projects cancelled as of 2016, when the MIT program went defunct.

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November 14, 2019 2:25 pm

The mythical problem of Global Warming/Climate Change is dealt with by mythical CCS Schemes. Honour is satisfied.

Bryan A
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
November 14, 2019 10:29 pm

Best CCS…Plant fast growing trees (Hybrid Poplar reaches maturity at 50′ in 7 years.)
Harvest the trees and stack them in an old coal pit mine.
Cover the stack levels with 24″ of water to create anoxic conditions.
Replant the trees and repeat the process every 7 years.
Eventually the mine will be primed to become new coal give or take a few million years

November 14, 2019 2:26 pm

The link MIT’s CCS project database for the the cancelled or dormant CCS project seems to be outdated , but her below is one that works

Reply to  Björn
November 14, 2019 4:23 pm

Thank you for the link.
The amount of money for each project is given at this site.
Hard to believe this huge amount of money produced no result.

Reply to  rd50
November 15, 2019 9:59 am

what do you mean “no result”. They established that it economically unfeasible and a total waste of resources. That is a result. Negative results are just as important as positive a lot of the time.

It’s rather sad that such a blatantly obvious negative needs to be proven, but there are so many fools in this new religion, it’s going to take time and money to turn the boat around.

November 14, 2019 2:37 pm

Joshua trees don’t grow that big. Palm trees are mostly water.
And, they’re ripping out all the almond groves to save water.

nw sage
Reply to  Rocketscientist
November 14, 2019 5:19 pm

Speaking of saving water – Rud’s analysis doesn’t even mention the water necessary to keep 3^E6 trees alive and growing actively. I am quite sure it is NOT a small amount when compared to the annual/monthly/daily water usage of greater LA. Where the HECK is THAT water going to come from?

Michael Lemaire
November 14, 2019 2:49 pm

In their road-map, SoCalEd expects to be able to procure solar cells and wind mills from outside California, manufactured with electricity/power from non-renewable energy plants. Manufacturing these in California with “renewable” energy is not feasible.

November 14, 2019 2:51 pm

-What’s ludicrous about alll these plans is that by 2045, without doing anything, the entire fleet will be electric and molten salt SMR reactors will provide no carbon power. This will happen irrespective of any concerns about CO2 emissions. It’s called technological advancement

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ColMosby
November 14, 2019 3:26 pm

Thanks for the laugh Col.
You are obviously completely clueless about California’s political environment and how the Green idiots there have the Sacramento Democrats by their gonads. What don’t you get about Cal shutting down its last nuclear plant in a few years?

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 14, 2019 4:22 pm

I have a great deal of hope that public attitudes will change. I’m beginning to see the beginnings in the Adventure Playgrounds movement. The upcoming generation may no longer need safe spaces and trigger warnings for everything.

I, for one, will be glad to see the end of infantile idiots who demand safety from everything. People who understand risk won’t be as easily duped by the CAGW propagandists.

Reply to  ColMosby
November 14, 2019 3:56 pm

It really is fascinating how dedicated you are in regards to repeating the same disproven propaganda ad infinitum.

Even with huge subsidies, EVs are still struggling to make it up to 1% of total sales.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  ColMosby
November 14, 2019 4:05 pm

I would love some of what you are smoking. There are many ICE vehicles in California right now that will still be running in 2045. How many molten salt SMR reactors are there right now?

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 15, 2019 5:58 am

The Crescent Dunes CSP molten salt energy storage project isn’t operational-

It might take till 2025 to find out what has gone wrong with the technologies.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  ColMosby
November 14, 2019 5:51 pm

Once again:
Get 5 molten salt power plants built and running.
Get 50 approved, financed, located, and under construction.
Get 500 more planned and financed.

When the above has been accomplished, what percentage of the “entire fleet” will be molten salt, assuming all of the 555 units get built and connected to the grid?

Maybe someone that is still around in 2045 can figure out how to get a message to me.

Reply to  ColMosby
November 14, 2019 5:57 pm

As far as I can tell, three such reactors have been constructed. link There are a number of projects worldwide and it seems likely that commercial units will begin operation in the 2020s.

The thing that scares me the most is proliferation. It seems that molten salt reactors are resistant to that.

Ron Long
November 14, 2019 2:54 pm

Wow, Rud, this whole carbon neutral deal turns out to be just virtue-signaling writ large? But the earth will pass the tipping point anyway and we all suffer heatstroke? Oh wait, do the champion virtue-signalers get to live someplace cool (not cool as in that’s gnarly, dude, but like frozen)? How do these global warming fanatics see the future? I’m confused and my normal glass of wine is not helping.

Reply to  Ron Long
November 14, 2019 4:00 pm

…in the mean time

Florida’s population grows at the rate of about 1000 people a day

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Latitude
November 15, 2019 6:54 am

Yes but subtract those taken by alligators and old age, you would be in negative growth figures there.

November 14, 2019 2:58 pm

Saudi Arabia plans to launch carbon trading scheme

“We will come soon with a suggestion on carbon trading that would be a fair carbon trading system … And I think it will work,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh.
“Carbon is a resource. It is not something that we should just throw and just emit it. Actually, capturing it makes us make money out of it.”

Kevin kilty
November 14, 2019 2:59 pm

The best use of captured CO2 would be for tertiary recovery in oil fields, but that just provides more fossil fuels to burn. Not that I mind, but the anti-combustion cognitively impaired do. If one just buries the CO2, that amounts to burying availability, energy that otherwise could be converted to useful work. What a colossal waste!

November 14, 2019 3:07 pm

What about India and China, and the rest of the so called undeveloped

If we are to believe the nutty Greenies then its all over, we are doomed, so
why bother, lets jut enjoy ourselves and emit lots and lots of that lovely life
giving and world greening gas.

Let the miserable Greenies just wait, probably for ever , for the end.


Earl Jantzi
Reply to  Michael
November 14, 2019 4:42 pm

The next ice age will arrive before the “glow bull warming”. How many in this crowd KNOW that the AVERAGE DAILY TEMPERATURE of the Continent of Antarctica is 59 Degrees BELOW ZERO F? Just curious.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Earl Jantzi
November 14, 2019 7:48 pm

We have to finish the current ice age before we even begin to worry about the next.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 15, 2019 4:00 pm

The next glacial period of the current ice age then.

Gunga Din
November 14, 2019 3:37 pm

And, of course, until the nonsense regulations that prevent clearing brush form under power lines because some “extinct critter” used live in dead brush like that, forbidding logging dead wood out of forest because some obscure sub-type of an owl might nest in a Kmart sign instead of a fire hazard, water can’t be diverted for irrigation because delta smelt might miss it … …. Plant a billion trees in CA and their Green, Enviro Crap regulations will just burn them down anyway.
“California”, I have met your enemy and it is YOU!
CA voters, wake up and clean out your own shift!

Reply to  Gunga Din
November 14, 2019 4:39 pm


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Gunga Din
November 15, 2019 6:57 am

How big is CA? Now compare that to Australia. We have the same loony fire control policy. And guess what, we have massive raging fires, largely started by arsonists, but the media tend to ignore that little fact. So lets just burn!

November 14, 2019 3:56 pm

So … global warming will result in the tree line moving north. I’m sure there is ample room along Canada’s tree line to plant a few billion trees. The amount of global warming will determine how far the tree line moves. If the tree line doesn’t move it didn’t get warmer and no trees are required. If the tree line moves a lot then we can plant a lot of trees and prevent more global warming. It’s a negative feedback system.

nw sage
Reply to  commieBob
November 14, 2019 5:25 pm

And we don’t even need a big stick to get Canada to agree to let us plant all those trees – all we need to do is say “I’m Sorry” every time we plant a tree!

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  commieBob
November 14, 2019 5:58 pm

background reading:
Historical Aspects of the Northern Canadian Treeline HARVEY NICHOLS (late ’70s paper)

ABSTRACT From palynological studies it appears that northernmost dwarf spruces of the tundra and parts of the forest-tundra boundary may be relicts from times of prior warmth, and if felled might not regenerate. This disequilibrium may help explain the partial incongruence of modern climatic limits with the present forest edge. Seedlings established as a result of recent warming should therefore be found within the northernmost woodlands rather than in the southern tundra.

Steve Z
November 14, 2019 4:20 pm

It’s great that somebody finally stated that carbon (dioxide) capture and sequestration is not viable.

The main problem is that CO2 takes up too much space underground if it is not compressed and/or liquefied, and CO2 cannot be liquefied at temperatures above 81 F (critical temperature), which are frequently exceeded underground. Any substance that is liquefied near its critical temperature has a risk of explosive expansion (man-made earthquakes for CCS) if the temperature rises slightly, so that it is safer to compress CO2 above its critical pressure of 1170 psi.

Carbon dioxide recovered from flue gas is normally at relatively low pressure (slightly above atmospheric), so that compression to 1200 psi or so requires the pressure to be multiplied about 80, usually requiring at least four stages of compression. For a coal-fired power plant, compression of all the CO2 generated usually consumes about 30% of the energy produced by the power plant. If CCS is added on to an existing power plant, the plant consumes 43% more coal for the same net power generated.

The power plant becomes less efficient, and emits more real pollutants (ash and SO2) per MWh electricity produced, plus the capital cost of all those compressors. This is a financially losing proposition for any power company, consuming more of a resource just to gain a few brownie points from the AGW scaremongers.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Steve Z
November 14, 2019 9:14 pm

Everyone seems to be missing the obvious. Since CO2 is the control knob for global temperature and we are due to enter another glacial period in 10 to 10,000 years or so (there is a bit of uncertainty in the models), we need to produce and store CO2 now under the Precautionary Principal. We can just make it into dry ice which can’t be too hard as we’ve been doing it for a hundred years or so. Just need to build some really big Styrofoam coolers. OK, we’ll need to do something to keep it cold, but I’ve thought of that – Liquid Nitrogen! Then when the big cooling comes we’ll be ready – just take the dry ice out and bring the CO2 up to the level needed. I’m sure the GCM’s will be able to calculate the correct concentration. In the mean time we’ll be keeping the CO2 on ice so to speak which will keep warming in check. But the great thing is we can stop with all the wind and solar expense and spend the money saved on the dry ice project. We’ll need all the CO2 we can possibly produce to prevent a serious glacial episode. Win-Win. We owe it to our grandchildren, or great great great ever so great grand children.

November 14, 2019 5:09 pm

But but but … trees emit water vapor by evapotranspiration and worse, methane, which is even worse than the evil CO2 !

So, on one hand, we have to cut out all the trees to save the planet, and on the other hand, we have to plant billions of trees … or we could transport them from one place to another … or just … do nothing.

I wonder when all this Monty Pythonian farce will end 🙁

November 14, 2019 7:02 pm

Thank you, Rud.

I’ve read all six installments and really appreciate how you boiled it all down to where even non-tech type people can understand the problems and pitfalls along the “Pathway.”

There are some who will read this that don’t know gigawatts from megawatts from kumquats, yet you show how the math often just doesn’t add up so that anyone can absorb your analysis. The other thing you did well was expose the dodgy assumptions. Well done.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  H.R.
November 14, 2019 9:01 pm

You are welcome. CtM can be quite persuasive, and you quite kind.

Don K
November 15, 2019 3:42 am

Rud: Thanks for your effort in writing this stuff up. It was clearly a lot of work. I could find a few things to quibble with. But I won’t, because overall it seems comprehensive and fair. California’s energy goals look to be both unrealistic and pointless since California represents less than 0.5% of the world’s population and the rest of the world is clearly on a different trajectory.

One point: It’s easy to forget, but California really does have solid reasons to want to minimize burning of hydrocarbons in the Southern Coastal basins. By the time I left the place three decades ago, they’d actually done a pretty good job of cleaning up the air in Los Angeles. Some ideas like encouraging vehicle electrification may make more sense in California than they would in, for example, Miami.

One question: I don’t know much about Generation IV Nuclear. Like most unproven technology it sounds great. On paper. My impression is that you’ve looked into Gen IV. Is there any realistic chance that Gen IV could actually provide copious amounts of reasonably priced, non-Carbon, electricity by mid-century? And will the plants really be 100% proof against significant damage from magnitude 8 earthquakes (potentially magnitude 9 north of the Mendocino triple point)?

November 15, 2019 5:59 am

Rud Istvan – Thanks very much for your work dissecting SoCalEd’s roadmap to decarbonize California by 2045. Your six posts helped better inform me about the many hurdles facing these zero carbon initiatives. Apparently, many believe these challenges can be just “…leapt over in a single bound” by publishing a slick PR pamphlet.

November 15, 2019 9:14 am

Rud: Not to be picky, but there is one other CCS project than Boundary Dam. That is the PetroNova project in Texas. It recovers about 240 MW worth of CO2 from a coal fired boiler. The CO2 is used to recover oil in a field several miles away.

But note that one more project with some government funds contributed (as also happened for Boundary Dam) does not prove the viability of the technology.

Beta Blocker
November 15, 2019 9:54 am

Utility size vanadium flow batteries are now being touted as the ultimate solution for deploying affordable grid scale energy storage capacity wherever it is needed. This article promotes the WattJoule V-Flow battery:

Energy’s Future – Battery and Storage Technologies:

I would appreciate it if Rud Istvan could give us a reasonably detailed analysis as to whether or not the WattJoule product or similar V-flow technologies could perform as well in actual service as their advocates claim.

Matthew R Marler
November 15, 2019 11:46 am

Rud Istvan, thank you for this series of essays.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
November 15, 2019 3:05 pm

The one storage technology that has some real legs is freight train storage. A unit train (100 open hopper cars of 110 tons capacity) will “store” 27 MW-hr if moved from the freight yard in Ontario, CA to the highest track elevation in the Cajon Pass. It will store it for an infinite period, and can discharge it quickly. I don’t know how much rolling stock is available in the U.S., but there are evidently people looking into it.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
November 15, 2019 5:41 pm

gravity-rail storage suffers from the same main limitation as pumped hydro: it requires compatible terrain. It also end up having very low storage density for the land required. The specific span you mention is about 20 miles long. For 20MWh of capacity that’s 100KWh / linear mile.

Don K
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
November 16, 2019 2:39 am

Alan: A rather infamous train wreck occurred on the Cajon Pass-San Bernardino grade in 1989. The nature of the accident — brake failure due to an unfortunate series of events, leading to 6 engines and 69 loaded gondola cars hitting a 35mph curve in a residential neighborhood at around 100mph leads me to believe that particular grade is probably close to the maximum you’d want to use in a practical system. The pass and grade leading up to it are quite broad and already contain an Interstate Highway, several other roads and multiple railroad tracks. Looking at the satellite images on Google Maps, it would appear that there’s room for quite a few additional tracks should one choose to build them.

I do wonder how efficient such a system would be.

I also suspect the folks living at the bottom of the grade might be somewhat unenthusiastic about a storage project. After all, they KNOW what can possibly go wrong. I reckon the lawsuits might drag on for about 20 years before the first rail is laid.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
November 24, 2019 1:45 pm

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret. November 15, 2019 at 3:05 pm

The one storage technology that has some real legs is freight train storage. A unit train (100 open hopper cars of 110 tons capacity) will “store” 27 MW-hr if moved from the freight yard in Ontario, CA to the highest track elevation in the Cajon Pass. It will store it for an infinite period, and can discharge it quickly.


Michael, there is no such thing as “perpetuum mobiles”.

1. the freight train is loaded by diesel fueled forklifters.

2. the fuel energy burned by the diesel engines is returned with efficiency loss on the 1st long slope downwards.

3. remaining distances, / up / down / horizontal / have to get powered with appropriate energy: fueled.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
November 15, 2019 5:43 pm

Summary of parts 1-6:

So sometime in the future, can we expect a #SoCalKnew compaign?

Johann Wundersamer
November 24, 2019 1:54 pm
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