Or so says reuters and a whole host of others repeating the same story. The source is draft ELECTRICITY GENERATION POLICY STATEMENT from the shouty Scottish government. You won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t believe a word of it (I’ve been pretty sniffy before), but lets read on. Oh, but first, why so sniffy? Because, its not economic (if it was, we’d all be doing it, der). Nor do I see any sign of it becoming economic in the next 10-15-20 years. But who knows, I could be wrong. Lets read on…

They say: The Scottish Government’s policy on electricity generation [nd: this is indeed about electricity generation, not all fuel use; there is stuff in there about other use, but I’ll ignore that -W] is that Scotland’s generation mix should deliver: (1) a secure source of electricity supply; (2) at an affordable cost to consumers; (3) which can be largely decarbonised by 2030; (4) and which achieves the greatest possible economic benefit and competitive advantage for Scotland including opportunities for community ownership and community benefits. These are in conflict, how will they balance them? Some bits seem confused (delivering the equivalent of at least 100% of gross electricity consumption from renewables by 2020 as part of a wider, balanced electricity mix, with thermal generation playing an important role though a minimum of 2.5 GW of thermal generation progressively fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); – this appears to confuse renewables with carbon-neutral; and there should be a particularly strong role for CCS, where Scotland has the natural advantages and resources which could enable it to become a world leader. is pretty weird, too (oh, they mean they have offshore places to dump the CO2. Maybe). Also, they say No Nooks, but I’m not going to rant about that here) but never mind that; what about demonstrating carbon capture and storage (CCS) at commercial scale in Scotland by 2020, with full retrofit across conventional power stations thereafter by 2025-30?

So I’m trying to talk about CCS here, but along the way I find Our analysis demonstrates that while renewable energy will play the predominant role in electricity supply in Scotland by 2020, the Scottish electricity generation mix cannot currently, or in the foreseeable future, operate without baseload and balancing services provided by thermal electricity generation which I find hard to make sense of. Presumably 2020 is within the “foreseeable future”, so by 2020 renewables will be predominant, and yet thermal generation will still be providing the baseload? Don’t understand. I think its just a kind of lead-in para to the CCS discussion, and doesn’t really have any meaning. Some of the CCS is to be propped up by the UK’s stupid “carbon price floor” (just say No! Instead, Carbon Tax Now!). The Scottish Government has never intended to support unabated new coal plants in Scotland, as this would be wholly inconsistent with our climate change objectives. We have made it absolutely clear that any new power station in Scotland must be fitted with a minimum CCS on 300 MWe of its generation from day one of operation. OK, so much for good intentions. But how will the economics work out? Ah, but before that, note If CCS is not proven to be technically or financially viable then we will consider low carbon alternatives which would have an equivalent effect. So, imagine you want to build a new coal fired plant in Scotland (the policy only applies to coal, not oil or gas). You’re going to have to build in CCS. But, CCS may not be viable – the govt itself admits this – but you’re going to have to build it in anyway. I think the answer to that will be that no-one will want to build new coal plants in Scotland. Maybe that is what they want, anyway.

Oh. That seems to be it. I was expecting them to go on an analyse CCS and work out what carbon price they needed to make it viable, and so on. But they don’t. They just re-iterate CCS is a promising low carbon technology that is still in the early stages of realising its large scale development potential. In the event of CCS being found not to be financially or technically viable, consideration will be given to other emission reduction measures. So, I think this is all motherhood-and-apple-pie. They want de-carbonised energy, because people like the idea, and stuff like that. But they aren’t going to trouble themselves about the costs just yet, so this is just politicians making airy gestures. It is meaningless until the hard choices that they are pretending don’t exist come into play.

Refs

* Rabbit pie pushing
* Geoengineering Politics and again.

Comments

  1. #1 wag
    2012/04/13

    it sounds like they’re talking about biochar.

  2. #2 David B. Benson
    2012/04/14

    This is a doggleboon.

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    2012/04/14

    As Ghandi said, that would be a good thing, sort of like majic nanocatalysts. A bunch of Pie Pushers they are

  4. #4 bellona
    2012/04/14

    o dostum scottish cola plant hakını vermek gerikkse bence btam bir korsan gibisindinz. bellona koltuğunda oturken bloğunuzu incelerken rastladım ve çok hoşuma gitti. emeklerinze sağlık yani çok zahmet etmiyşsiniz bu makaledeki yapzdıklarınza aynen kelimesi kelimesine katılıyorum.

  5. #5 J Bowers
    2012/04/14

    Because, its not economic (if it was, we’d all be doing it, der).”

    We’d all be doing it? Beg to differ. E.g., pick any healthcare system.

    [I suspect that electricity generation is rather more ruthlessly economic than at least the UK healthcare system -W]

  6. #6 Martin Vermeer
    2012/04/14

    > Presumably 2020 is within the “foreseeable future”, so by 2020
    > renewables will be predominant, and yet thermal generation will
    > still be providing the baseload? Don’t understand.

    Perhaps they mean “baseload backup”, not actual baseload. Just guessing… the word I would use is “balancing”. Could actually work BTW, see Table B2. The wind turbines are generating power for the birdies part of the time (because of the huge installed capacity), while still stuff is being burned when the wind doesn’t blow.

    Hmm, off-topic, what’s a Word doc doing on the Internet?

    [Well, it is the Scottish government -W]

  7. #7 Nick Barnes
    2012/04/15

    The document also goes on to say that all Scottish electrons will be painted blue and white. If feasible.

  8. #8 David B. Benson
    2012/04/15

    Close all Scottish coal burners. Then all are using the very best CCS technology.

  9. #9 Dunc
    2012/04/16

    One little factoid that might help make sense of some of this is that we export quite a lot of electricity, so “electricity supply in Scotland” is quite a bit smaller than “Scottish electricity generation”. I believe their target is to reach a situation where the amount of “renewable” electricity generated is equal to the amount of electricity used in Scotland, with the (IIRC, about 20%) excess which we export providing the necessary wiggle-room to gloss over the whole baseload issue.

    [Good point. That is in the report, but I sort-of blipped over it; and yes I agree that does rather amount to a glossing-over -W]

  10. #10 Han Hyo Joo
    2012/04/16

    Scotland, with the (IIRC, about 20%) excess which we export providing the necessary wiggle-room to gloss over the whole baseload issue.

  11. #11 Eli Rabett
    2012/04/17

    Not to complain, but are there any Scottish coal mines left of any size, and if so will they be operating in 2025?

    Ms. Thatchers Science Advisor

    [I very much doubt it. Coal mines are more midlands, or Wales -W]

  12. #12 Lance
    2012/04/17

    William,

    “…they aren’t going to trouble themselves about the costs just yet, so this is just politicians making airy gestures. It is meaningless until the hard choices that they are pretending don’t exist come into play.”

    Well, I have to hand it to you for your steely eyed realism, at least as far as economic issues are concerned.

    You recently used the “Everything is fine so far”, said the man hurtling downward from the top of a 100 story building, analogy in response to my remark about no real catastrophic effects to date from climate change, remark.

    I suspect that unless you carbon-phobes can ratchet up public fears about impending doom that no CCS is in the foreseeable future.

    Then again what hasn’t been tried so far to frighten the unwashed masses? Killer storms? Check. Drowning seas? Check. Failed crops? Check. Massive extinctions? Check. Earthquakes and tidal waves? Sadly, check.

    [I can’t control what the meeja say; all that you’re talking about is orthogonal to the science -W]

    The public just isn’t listening anymore. Of course it would help if any of one of these doomsday predictions were even close to becoming a verifiable reality.

    Still, I count you amongst my favorite climate change bloggers. I have never caught you in an out an out lie or known you to cover for putrid science even if it favours your opinion.

    Cheers.

  13. #13 Eli Rabett
    2012/04/18

    In which case, if there are no Scottish coal mines, the SNP is playing an obvious game given that they think they will win the devolution vote.

    [Could be. I’m somewhat distressed to find that this stuff would be popular, but there you go -W]

  14. #14 Ian Forrester
    2012/04/18

    Scotland still produces one third of UK coal:

    http://coal.decc.gov.uk/assets/coal/Production-and-Manpower-Returns-2010-Full-Year.pdf

    [Real numbers! Thank you. I would not have guessed it. In that case, per head of pop, they produce more than England -W]

    Coal accounted for 30% of Scottish electricity generation:

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Business/TrendElectricity

    [And with nukes is more than half. They don’t like nukes, either -W]

  15. #15 Brian Schmidt
    2012/04/19

    Retrofitting any coal plant isn’t necessarily easy. The non-IGCC types especially would be difficult. I think locking down CCS for new plants is the part of this that might have bite right now. If CCS does work out, then this might be a decent step towards retrofitting in 20s.

    I have no idea how y’all do things over there, but here in the Land of the Free And Somewhat Regulated Private Utilities, pricing is determined by what an overseeing agency allows the utility to expend and then recover at a profit. Whether CCS is economic is a political issue as much as a technical cost comparison issue.

    Re “any new power station in Scotland must be fitted with a minimum CCS on 300 MWe of its generation from day one of operation. OK, so much for good intentions. But how will the economics work out? Ah, but before that, note If CCS is not proven to be technically or financially viable then we will consider low carbon alternatives which would have an equivalent effect.” That sounds much like our new EPA rule here in the States (if finalized). We have very cheap natural gas here in case things go badly though.

    [Yees. So, there is a problem: CCS isn’t economic now, but it might be in the future. But you need to build the plants to allow retro-fit, though that inevitably will be somewhat inefficient as you don’t yet know quite what the fit will be, or if it will happen at all. Also, I think we might end up with cheap natural gas through fracking too, if we need it -W]

  16. #16 J Bowers
    2012/04/19

    “[I suspect that electricity generation is rather more ruthlessly economic than at least the UK healthcare system -W]”

    Not so sure about that. Compared to the US, Brits get twice the access to healthcare at half the cost per head (OECD figures). That smacks of four times the efficiency, to me.

  17. #17 Coal Industry
    2012/05/01

    Coal Industry would suggest the commodity isn’t going anywhere. Coal reports show if we have to live with it, we may as well reduce the impact of coal and CCS seems to be the best solution found to date. Cherry http://www.coalportal.com While for some an ideal world would see no reliance on coal statistics to produce electricity,

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