The CCS White Elephant

Jubail Power

One of the many ‘novel’ solutions to the mythical CO2 problems has been CCS or Carbon Capture and Storage.

A process that involves extracting CO2 from the exhaust of power plants, processing it, compressing it and then sending it by pipeline to somewhere useful – like injection into oil wells to aid recovery of more oil.

But, as this article points out, there are many problems with this approach (my emphasis);

Refurbishing the 45-year old Unit #3 to extend its life for another 30 years and retrofitting it with equipment to capture carbon dioxide emissions has cost almost C$1.3 billion, according to the company’s accounts, about three times as much as a similar-sized plant without CCS.

Despite receiving C$240m from Canadian tax payers, the costs are still massive.  And the new plant is considerably less efficient than ones without CCS.

Published estimates for the size of this “energy penalty” at a typical power plant vary. Researchers at Britain’s Imperial College put it at around 20 percent (“Carbon capture technology: future fossil fuel use and mitigating climate change” Nov 2010).

But scientists at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggested the penalty could range anywhere from a theoretical lower bound of 11 percent to as much as 40 percent, with 29 percent as a good target (“The energy penalty of post-combustion CO2 capture and storage” Jan 2009).

Pay more get less – genius.