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Is it Time to Abandon CCS?

October 21, 2011

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is consuming tax payer dollars in an effort to develop the technologies needed to capture and sequester huge quantities of CO2 – and to prove it is even possible to store vast amounts of CO2 underground for centuries.

Frankly, attempts to develop CCS should be stopped.

To have any effect on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, CCS must be utilized around the world, not just in the United States.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), governments around the world would have to spend $3,000 billion to construct the necessary plants for capturing CO2.

The IEA has a target of 3,400 CCS-projects to be in place by 2050, but these would only capture one-third of existing global CO2 emissions.

Not only power plants would have to capture CO2, but also cement plants, steel mills and all other industrial plants that use fossil fuels.

Even the IEA admits that, “commercial power plants and industrial facilities will not invest in CCS because it reduces efficiency, adds cost and lowers energy output.”

This is a prescription for lower economic activity and higher unemployment.

The UK has just abandoned its CCS project at its second largest power plant located in Scotland, due to the length of the necessary pipeline.

Keep in mind that transporting CO2 to where it might possibly be sequestered underground in the United States will require a pipeline structure equivalent to the structure that currently exists for transporting oil.

All the CCS development projects currently being implemented worldwide can only capture an amount of CO2 equal to 0.15% of total CO2 emissions from the United States, let alone worldwide. The current worldwide effort is only a drop in the bucket of what would have to be spent on CCS if all CO2 emissions around the world were to be captured and sequestered.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is using tax-payer money to fund CCS in the United States.

For example, DOE has said it could provide $450 million of tax-payer dollars to help build the Summit Texas Clean Energy’s 400-MW integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant planned for construction west of Midland-Odessa, Texas.

DOE has also offered one billion dollars to support the revised Future Gen project in Illinois, which is an effort to capture CO2 from an existing coal fired power plant.

There is also a DOE project underway to try to map where it might be possible to sequester CO2 in the United States.

DOE, through its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), has spent tax-payer dollars in an attempt to estimate possible CO2 sequestration on federal lands and issued its report “Storage of Captured Carbon Dioxide Beneath Federal Lands.”

NETL also issued the Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the United States and Canada.

NETL, of course, is funded by tax-payer dollars.

All of this money is being wasted since it’s virtually impossible to capture the nearly 6,000 million tons of CO2 produced by the United States in the first place.

It’s important to note that there is no proven technology for capturing CO2 from existing power plants, let alone cement mills etc. It’s also important to note that it may not be possible to store CO2 underground for centuries without it leaking back to the atmosphere.

And, without billions more wasted by other governments around the world to develop their CCS capabilities, it would be futile for the United States to capture its CO2 emissions.

In an economic climate where the United States has a huge debt burden, it’s foolhardy to spend money on CCS.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 21, 2011 11:30 am

    One item those who propose CCS seem to forget is the tradgedy at Lake Nyos in the Cameroon in the summer of 1986. The lake overturned its carbon dioxide and spilled this heavier than air gas over many miles around the lake. 1700 people died along with far greater amount of live stock. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere near pipe lines transporting carbon dioxide or storage locations. You just go to sleep and never wake up from leakage.

    Few remember WWI where chlorine gas settled in shell holes because it was heavier than air and soldiers seeking safety in a shell hole died from the gas.

    I keep asking myself what are these people smoking in Washington? They want to waste hundreds of billions to eliminate mercury from coal-fired power plant effluents that won’t be noticed because of vastly more natural mercury in our outside atmosphere. Then the same people force us to use mercury laden CFLs in our homes whose most certain breakage will really contaminate the interior of your home where people spend the majority of their time.

    CCS will cost trillions, rob our plant life of needed nutrients, and maybe kill thousands with no detectable decrease in global temperatures. Only the anti-technology people in Washington could dream up these conditions.

    James H. Rust

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