This is a guest post by Geir Hasnes, with further evidence of the retreat of the greens.
In 2006, the Norwegian government embarked on the world’s most ambitious carbon capture project – a system that would capture the CO2 produced at gas-fired power stations. The system had a projected cost of 27 billion NoK, roughly equivalent to US$5 billion. The two power stations concerned are situated at Mongstad near Bergen on the west coast and Kårstø, somewhat further to the south. Mongstad had been chosen as the starting point.
But now the decision to start the actual implementation of the cleaning technology has been postponed. The “moon landing” – Norwegian prime minister Stoltenberg’s name for the CO2 capture project at Mongstad – was suddenly stopped 2 days ago: the moon rocket crashlanded on Friday 30th April. The Norwegian government decided to postpone the project for 4 years.
What has the cost been so far? According to the online edition of Teknisk Ukeblad [Technological Weekly] on 19th April:
In the period 2006-2009 about 350 million [NoK] was spent on planning and preparation of the CO2 capture facility at Kårstø. And about 270 million was spent on planning and preparation of transport and pipeline solutions for CO2.
These figures were from Unni Clausen, Communication Adviser of the Oil and Energy department. She emphasizes that transportation solutions apply equally to Kårstø and Mongstad. And the oil and energy minister Riis-Johansen said to Aftenposten's web edition on 1st May:
We have already spent six billion [NoK] on planning.
What was it that we were going to achieve? From the Impact and consequences assessment of the Climate and Pollution Agency, a press release from 27th August 2007:
The operation of the capture facility will produce some air emissions of ammonia, amines and reaction products of the amines. NOx emissions will not increase beyond what is now discharged from the plants at Mongstad, and the total emissions of CO2 will be somewhat less. Besides the heated cooling water, there will be some discharges to the water of amines, ammonia, sulfuric acid and sulfates.
What in the world? “Emissions of CO2 will be somewhat less”???
Not, “All CO2 is now being cleaned out”???
What have the politicians and the environmentalists been thinking all these years? Or had us ordinary mortals believe?
After hundreds of millions had been spent (we choose to ignore the "billions" of Riis-Johansen, an exaggeration in line with the melting of the Himalayas in 2035), this was the conclusion to the National Institute of Public Health report of 5th May 2009 regarding amine emissions:
Some amines, however, escape into the atmosphere. The relevant amines are compounds which in themselves are not very harmful at the concentrations that would occur around power plants. Amines, however, may also be included in complex chemical reactions in the air and form new substances. A theoretical study shows that some of these may be harmful, depending on the amine used and the extent to which these substances are formed. In particular, one must be aware of the concentration of transformation products that may be carcinogenic."
Despite all the attention around CO2 capture, there is surprisingly little knowledge about the health effects and environmental effects of several compounds that can be formed, says researcher Marit Låg. In the report from the Institute of Public Health has shown specifically that there is very limited understanding of the health effects of so-called nitramines. This will now be examined in experimental studies that will provide the necessary knowledge.
In the Tech Weekly online edition of 19th Feb. 2009 we read:
We can not accept that [power stations] will send out something that is toxic. They can not just push CO2 capture without taking into account safety", the Mayor of Austrheim, Ole Lysø, said to Tech Weekly. He was totally unaware that the CO2 capture project at Mongstad might lead to the emission of harmful amines to the atmosphere."
The article continues
“True enough, the amine technology is known, but it has never been applied in the size required for the power plant. The technology has not been used in open systems where residual gases are released into the atmosphere. In case of emissions to the atmosphere, several substances that are worrying can be formed”, says HSE Coordinator for the in StatoilHydro CO2 capture project at Mongstad, Hege Nilsen.
"We take these challenges seriously. We can not make an investment decision with this hanging over our heads. It is a premise that we will be able to solve this, and if not, the decision about the investment has to be postponed," said the Master Plan project manager for Mongstad, Hans Petter Rebo.
Department leader and Professor at the Dept. of Electrical Power Engineering at NTNU, Eilif Hansen, told the author on 1st May:
"I was on an excursion to the Bergen area with 82 students this week, including a visit to Mongstad. It is really quite frightening to hear about the famous "moon landing” project. Besides the fact that it actually costs quite a bit of money, they are working with a technology for carbon capture where they are concerned that amine emissions (I must confess that I do not know much about amines ..) may be a health hazard. But they assured us that they were working to solve these problems, so it should not be dangerous ... I asked as usual if anyone could tell me how much anthropogenic emissions accounted for in relation to natural emissions, which we actually breathe out. And as usual, no one could answer it."
One can only gasp at the fact that the environmentalists are angered by the delay in a totally unnecessary CO2 capture project because waste substances have major health and environmental consequences.
We, on the other hand, are exceedingly happy that a decision on the CO2 capture project has been postponed for 4 years, which in reality may mean that it is cancelled entirely, and also that it has not cost more than the 6 billion referred to by minister Riis-Johansen. It is, after all, less than the 8 billion annual cost of the totally unfounded climate tax we pay on our energy consumption – one third of the total energy cost, despite Norwegian energy production being from hydropower and therefore 100% free of CO2.
What should our tax money be spent on now, I wonder?