Or so says Richard Van Noorden, in Nurture.

But that’s not right. What hobbles CCS is that its uneconomic: so why would you do it?

I’m being a bit unfair: at least according to the article, CCS would be economic at the same subsidy cost as feed-in tariffs for wind and solar. But the great thing about solar, for example, is that it becomes economic at the individual-roof scale with current subsidy. No planning permission, quick and simple installation, buildable in small chunks, individual voters see a profit (and the others who haven’t got it and don’t see a profit because they’re funding it don’t really see their economic loss). Far more appealing that spending countless millions on a CCS plant that probably wouldn’t work :-).

Apparently, CCS was supposed to get its subsidy from the carbon trading scheme. But now its stuffed, because the price has collapsed. This tells you one of two things: either the scheme was stupid in the first place (my opinion). Or that the scheme has been successful: we’ve decided how much CO2 to emit (number of permits) and the permit price being low is a sign that its not hard to get down to that kind of level, so we don’t need to do expensive things like CCS. If that sounds familiar, its because I’ve said it before.

Perhaps we could encourage fracking, instead?

Refs

* Time for carbon taxes?
* Changes in Arctic sea ice result in increasing light transmittance and absorption

Comments

  1. #1 J Bowers
    2013/01/11

    “For coal to be ‘clean,’ it must magically float out of the ground” – RL Miller
    (H/T Hopeful Skeptic)

  2. #2 Neil Craig
    2013/01/12

    Uneconomic of course- all “alternative”power sources are or they would not be alternative.

    Non-existent in that no commercially working example exists or is close to doing so. Of course this has an advantage for alarmists in that they can invent costs and capabilities without interference from reality.

    Severely limited in effect in that (A) not all the CO2 will be captured (B) because it uses considerable energy to capture what it can ot requires more fuel to be burned (a matter unmentioned by those who claim to believe “resources” are running out) & thus might even end up releasing more CO2.

    It won’t work – storing billions of tons of CO2 underground and hoping it will stay there without acidifying & breaking through the rock, for geolo9gical ages is insane.

    It is dangerous – a cloud of escaped CO2 blowing over a village or town would kill everybody.
    ———————

    Everybody in the eco movement who honestly believes in catastrophic warming must, by definition, support a mass nuclear programme as the only serious way to cut cO2. It will be noted that, provably, almost no “environmental activists” acyually do believe in their fraud.

    I do not expect anybody to dispute this factually. I expect them once again to prove the enmtire fraud depends on lies, obscenity and censorship.

  3. #3 guthrie
    2013/01/12

    From what I’ve read, they botched the carbon trading scheme because of politics, i.e. set the number of permits far too high so there’s a glut of them. Basic economics.

  4. #4 J Bowers
    2013/01/12

    “Uneconomic of course- all “alternative”power sources are or they would not be alternative.”

    Just new. Fossil fuels had 150 years of subsidies, and their external costs are still subsidised in the hundreds of billions per annum. In terms of EROEI, renewables’ kung fu is much stronger in calories.

  5. #5 David B. Benson
    2013/01/13

    Neil Craig — That is a bunch of *unmentionables*. CO2 is regularly pumped underground to enhance petroleum recovery. It stays there.

    The physics and chemistry involved is probably beyond you.

  6. #6 guthrie
    2013/01/13

    Yes, that reminds me, they need somewhere sensible to put it like old oil wells under a satl dome, the problem being that they aren’t all over the place. Hence Longannet was a good place to try CCS because of the shorter distance to the oil fields. The longer the distance, the more the cost, and many power stations won’t be near enough at all to suitable storage points.

  7. #7 Neil Craig
    2013/01/14

    David not in the hundreds of billions of tons a year which mass CO2 storage would require. That does put the pressyre on.

    J that is an unusual interpretation of the industrial revolution. Presumably before the industrial revolution society was much wealthier not having to “subsidise” all that coal using industry.

  8. #8 J Bowers
    2013/01/14

    Neil Craig, how much has it cost to invade and maintain a presence in Iraq so far? Can’t really imagine invading had it just been very windy there. As for fossil fuel subsidies: Decades of federal dollars helped fuel gas boom.

    Energy subsidies

    “…Energy subsidies may be direct cash transfers to producers, consumers, or related bodies, as well as indirect support mechanisms, such as tax exemptions and rebates, price controls, trade restrictions, and limits on market access…”

    George Osborne to unveil fracking tax breaks in Budget

    I send this comment from my computer via the internet, both inventions originally subsidised by government.

  9. #9 Doug Proctor
    Calgary, Alberta
    2013/01/15

    You make a good observation about the failure of the carbon credit schemes. It is odd that they failed. Is it possible that they failed because loopholes exist to avoid the need to buy the credits, that exemptions turned out to be the rule?

    [In this case there were two problems, I think: too many permits were given out for free, in order to buy off the companies and associated pols most affected. That would probably have been got over, except for problem 2, which was the economic slow-down. If that is true, then perhaps the scheme can be rescued, given enough time. However it does rather point out the folly of letting the pols decide a sane level of permitting -W]

    Whenever a business can spend an amount of money equal to the tax that would have been paid, or by spending money they save a tax that would have been paid, it can be considered either “free” money, or a profit equal to the tax. If some other schemes equal the carbon credit price but get more tax relief, then the funds that would have gone to the carbon credits go to the other scheme. It is a mistake to think that both would be accepted; only a portion of funds are available for non-productive projects, especially when most companies work their darndest not to pay any taxes at all (their God and Congress given right).

  10. #10 David B. Benson
    2013/01/15

    Neil Craig — There are ample saline formations in the USA and I suspect elsewhere. Vastly more than enough for CCS. However, for extra security, consider

    In situ peridotite weathering:
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4292181.html
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21629/?a=f
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/45/17295

    In situ basalt weathering:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/29/9920.full.pdf+html

    [Well, I wonder about this. I could envisage enough convenient and easy formations to run demo plants against, but then us running out of places for full-scale deployment. That would be embarassing -W]

  11. #11 Neil Craig
    2013/01/15

    J If the purpose of the iraq war had been to get the oil the US would have got the oil & not bothered with trying to run the place. If you check you will find that there is still relatively little oil flowing.

    In fact the purpose of recent uS foreign adventures has just been the pleasure of blowing things up on TV news. a modern version of gladiatorial games, if you wish, but more expensibve in blood and treasure. It is the politicians (the same ones who promote the “environmental frauds you are so keen on) not the oil companies who sent soldiers to those wars.

    [I don’t recall Bush being terribly keen on Kyoto -W]

    Maintaining your claim that the indusrial revolution was a cost to society & a method of “subsidising” industry merely shows your dissociation from reality.

    Development of the internet (also the Moon landings) was not subsidised by government but by taxpayers – government has no money of its own. You may be surprised to know that I am, in the right circumstances, in favour of doing so. The right circumstances being when it actually produces something of value – The Longitude prize would be an example – windmill subsidy definitely isn’t.

  12. #12 Paul S
    2013/01/15

    [In this case there were two problems, I think: too many permits were given out for free, in order to buy off the companies and associated pols most affected. That would probably have been got over, except for problem 2, which was the economic slow-down. If that is true, then perhaps the scheme can be rescued, given enough time. However it does rather point out the folly of letting the pols decide a sane level of permitting -W]

    Isn’t one of the problems that Europe has been rapidly outsourcing its carbon-emitting industries to Asia, so the demand for emitting carbon within Europe has plummeted? Are goods imported into Europe assessed in terms of their emissions cost?

    [Has it? Obviously not power. I wouldn’t be surprised by a slow trickle of stuff to Asia over the last 10 years, but I doubt we’ve done enough to make demand “plummet”. Of course I have no numbers to back that up at all -W]

  13. #13 Paul S
    2013/01/15

    [Has it? Obviously not power. I wouldn’t be surprised by a slow trickle of stuff to Asia over the last 10 years, but I doubt we’ve done enough to make demand “plummet”. Of course I have no numbers to back that up at all -W]

    There were some studies released in the past few years which tried to identify the impact of increasing imports on European carbon emissions. One of the headline figures I saw was that the UK report an 8% decrease in carbon emissions (from 1990 I think – based on comparison with Kyoto targets), but once imports are taken into account the carbon cost of the UK economy has actually increased by 15%. Can’t find a link to that particular study, but here’s reports of related ones:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13187156

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/14/imports-uk-carbon-emissions

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/environment/green-economy/scptb01-ems/

    AIUI carbon trading schemes are designed to steadily reduce emissions over time, with a particular percentage change in mind. If emissions within the scheme are falling faster than expected, prices will drop due to lack of demand, which can cause the market to collapse as investors pull out.

    [Hmm. If I follow the beeb link I get to PNAS, but that doesn’t breakdown by country. If I follow graun I get to your http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/environment/green-economy/scptb01-ems/ and that *does* have the numbers. But the ETS launched in 2005, and… well:

    199451 (1993)
    219121
    242146
    224797
    255353
    275244
    291100
    290566
    281373
    285426
    300732 (2003)
    347946
    377739
    350262
    369434
    380809
    273600
    316479 (2010)

    so yes: embodied has gone up since 1993. But not since 2004 -W]

  14. #14 Paul S
    2013/01/15

    Those figures include embedded emissions from EU imports, which obviously wouldn’t be relevant to my point. Indeed, embedded emissions from EU imports have been on a downward trend since the late-90s and have been lower than 1993 levels since 2008, according to ths study.

    [Leavnig out the EU gets me:

    126779
    137692
    156279
    143250
    163482
    167656
    184431
    188681
    185047
    199316
    214253
    252151
    285059
    265223
    287356
    307522
    205602
    257792

    which is much the same shape -W]

    I guess even then, China + ROW embedded have barely increased since 2004, so it needs to be viewed in the context of the recession too. However, the percentage of total emissions relating to China + ROW embedded has continued to rise pretty steadily, up more than 5% since 2004 I would say.

    [The linear trend from 2004 to 2010 is downwards, assuming I got the right numbers -W]

    Regarding the point about when things have gone up from, what reference point is used for ETS regarding each country’s emissions portfolio?

  15. #15 Paul S
    2013/01/15

    [The linear trend from 2004 to 2010 is downwards, assuming I got the right numbers -W]

    Numbers look right but I think you’re putting too much weight on an outlier with this analysis. Other than 2009, following the financial crash, every year after 2004 has been higher and I’m willing to bet 2011 and 2012 will be too. That’s despite 2004 being an outlier itself, comfortably a record year at the time.

    According to this document, the UK’s allocation was based on emissions figures for 2002 so that would be the relevant reference point.

  16. #16 Paul S
    2013/01/15

    However, the percentage of total emissions relating to China + ROW embedded has continued to rise pretty steadily, up more than 5% since 2004 I would say.

    I should clarify this calculation is (China+ROW)/Total, to give the percentage of total. In 2004 it was just under 30%, in 2002 it was just over 25% and in 2010 it was just over 35%.

  17. #17 J Bowers
    2013/01/15

    Neil Craig — “Maintaining your claim that the indusrial revolution was a cost to society & a method of “subsidising” industry merely shows your dissociation from reality.”

    Straw man. I never said the Industrial Revolution was any such thing, I said fossil fuels were and are. The Industrial Revolution was originally kickstarted and powered by water. I see no reason for the laws of physics not to once again deliver the energy to ‘renewable’ energy capture systems.

  18. #18 J Bowers
    2013/01/15

    Neil Craig — “The right circumstances being when it actually produces something of value”

    You can’t predict the value.

    That’s why private enterprise rarely touches blue sky with a bargepole and gummint steps in to kickstart with funding. Case in point, natural gas hydraulic fracturing: industry thought it was a bonkers idea and had to be led by the nose via the carrot of financial incentives and subsidies. When the subsidies stopped for Texas oil fracking, Exxon pulled out.

  19. #19 David B. Benson
    2013/01/16

    William — There is more than enough near-surficial periodite for all envisioned coal burners in Papua New Guinea (≈200 × 50 km in area) and New Caledonia (≈150 × 40 km) .

    I live on top of (a small portion of) the Columbia Flood Basalts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_River_Basalt_Group
    covering about about 163,700 km² to great depth. [Area England: 130,395 km2]

    Then there are also the
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deccan_Traps
    with an area of about 500,000 km2. So there is plenty of room (in not necessarily convenient locations)

  20. #20 Toby
    2013/01/16

    Neil Craig,

    The US invaded Iraq for a clutch of geopolitical motives, of which oil was just one. Another was to subdue those pesky Ay-rabs i.e introduce democracy from a tank at 40 mph. It was thought Iraq’s oil would pay for the whole thing. What could possibly have gone wrong?

    [My pet theory was that they wanted to pay someone back for the twin towers stuff. Pounding Afghanistan was kinda fun, but not really very satisfying – no-one even knew where it was, and it was all done rather remotely. So they did Iraq as well -W]

  21. #21 Neil Craig
    2013/01/16

    Strangely enough I agree with W’s theory of why Iraq was chosen. I also find it consistent with my “gladiatroial games” one.

    J you are now saying that the large majority of innovation comes from government investment. If you look at any list of patents or of major inventions you will see that this is abslitley nuts, despite the fact that government has a far higher proportion of GDP to spend than all capitalist profits put together.

    Interestingly the only time government government investment regularly pays off in innovation is during wars of survival (ie WW” not Vietnam). This probably explains why America’s WW2 spending was not followed by recession the way the new Deal. was.

    It also suggests that it is only the thought of the Wehrmacht marching up Pennsylvania Avenue that makes Big Government cut its parasitism.

  22. #22 quokka
    2013/01/17

    @Neil Craig,

    Here’s a little reading for you documenting the achievements of Australia’s government funded CSIRO:

    http://www.csiropedia.csiro.au/display/CSIROpedia/Achievements+by+decade

    Rather an extensive and impressive list over a huge sweep of science and technology, is it not? The CSIRO holds the major wi-fi patents and after years of battles in the US courts is now receiving substantial royalties.

    Just in the last day or so, the government funded Qld Institute of Medical Research announced what would seem to be quite important developments in AIDS research leading to a single drug treatment for AIDS.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-16/scientists-hail-potential-cure-for-aids/4466766

    I must confess to having a bit of a soft spot for the Queensland Institute of Medical Research as my daughter was cured of an auto-immune condition due to a program of trials organized by that Institute and several Australian hospitals. Free. Would this be the “parasitism” you speak off.

    Now these are just examples, and not definitive proof of the worth of government funded research, but it surely does beat ideological noise.

  23. #23 David B. Benson
    2013/01/17

    Neil Craig’s understanding of actual economic history is as weak as his understanding of CCS.

  24. #24 Alexander Harvey
    2013/01/17

    For the UK:

    I believe that the current estimates for the costs of CCS are commonly based on a 90% capture rate, (which for coal would still leave 100gCO2/kWh), plus an assumption of a high load factor for coal plants, (which is less than ideal when once intermittency is the problem).

    See CCC’s Fourth Carbon Budget:

    http://downloads.theccc.org.uk.s3.amazonaws.com/4th%20Budget/4th-Budget_Chapter6.pdf

    From the same chapter: I read that average carbon intensity for power generation will be targeted at around 50gCO2/kWh by 2030 and essential zero by 2050.

    I cannot see that there is much room for coal CCS on a commercial basis, but it would add diversity to fossil fuel sourcing while that persists. It would be odd if coal CCS had to be subsidised.

    The picture for gas ccs is a little brighter given its lower residual (50gCO2/kWh) for a similar capture ratio, and due to its stated better economic performance at low load factors.

    Is anyone planning, or likely, to build commercial coal CCS plant?

    Which is much the same question as to the building of any more coal plants, or the operation of existing plant by the end of the 4th budgetary period (end 2027).

    The is a risk of coal CCS being a non-issue.

    Alex

  25. #25 Neil Craig
    2013/01/17

    Qiokka if you say that an new air cargo scanner is comparable in its effect as the Ipode we must disagree. I never claimed that all government action is parasitic, merely than most of it is. Agains you are entitled to disagree as long as you do not claim to be disagreeing with things I never said.

    Aleander I suspect the 90 & capture rate will prove iotimistic when/if a practical CCS system is ever produced. Remember that if it is, say, 70% as efficient (using 30% of the energy to capture, transport, pressurise and store the CO2 the the amoint of coal thay must be burned goes up ro 143% so that the amount escaping is not 10% but 14.3%.

    These ratios go up deamatically if either ot both of these estimates prove optimistic over decades of use. The cost, of course, also goes up both with extra burning and with the cost & maintenance of all the capture machinery.

  26. #26 Jeffrey Davis
    United States
    2013/01/17

    The Iraq War was fought (I believe) not to seize Iraq’s oil, but to bring Iraq’s oil to market. An enormous difference. Due to the constraints on trade put on Iraq due to the first Gulf War, the 2nd largest known reserves of oil were just lying there waiting for Saddam to leave office. (Coup or death? It made no difference.) I presume the James Baker paper still exists which outlines how uncertainty about oil supplies had stifled investment in refinery capacity. What Bush et al botched was the execution. They probably actually believed that they would be in and out of Iraq in a few months.

  27. #27 Brian Schmidt
    2013/01/22

    My take on the CCS issue, written Up-Goer Five style:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2013/01/putting-bad-air-down-under-in-up-goer.html

  28. #28 J Bowers
    2013/01/22

    “Qiokka if you say that an new air cargo scanner is comparable in its effect as the Ipode we must disagree.”

    But the iPod isn’t technological innovation, and is built around government funded research and technological innovation:

    * LCD screens (NIH, NSF, DOD)
    * Lithium-Ion batteries (DOE)
    * Micro hard drives (DOE)
    * Fast Fourier transform (Army Research Office)
    * Microprocessors (DARPA)

  29. #29 Magnus W
    2013/01/29

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