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« Ian Fells on energy shortfalls | Main | Homework fail - Josh 222 »
Sunday
May262013

Myles' fighting talk

Myles Allen has entered the climate fray again, with an article in the Mail on Sunday which strikes several blows at UK energy policy, and in particular windfarms, carbon trading and carbon taxes.

90 per cent of the measures adopted in Britain and elsewhere since the 1997 Kyoto agreement to cut global emissions are a waste of time and money – including windfarms in Scotland, carbon taxes and Byzantine carbon trading systems.

Unfortunately, he thinks the answer lies in carbon capture, an approach that can best be described as "speculative". However, recognition of the madness is the first step towards a cure, so we should probably welcome Myles' move.

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Reader Comments (67)

CCS eh? So we have to get rid of three tons of CO2 for every ton of carbon we burn? Where exactly are we going to put it? What happens if it gets out? Wouldn't we be better off with nukes where the waste/fuel fraction is so much smaller?

Is there anywhere a properly-costed CCS plan which has NOT been produced by rent-seekers? An independent engineering study? Any indication that CCS is doable at ANY cost? If not, isn't it a bit early to be relying on it as a strategy?

May 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

What Myles Allen tells the Mail on Sunday is probably as important as what the Climate Change Commitee tells the government.
First, talking about the number of trillion tons of carbon we can emit, he says:

let’s get on with it and revisit the total when temperatures reach 1.5C.
Which sounds fine and highly original - a climate scientist suggesting we base policy on real temperature rises instead of projections - but then he rather spoils it by saying:
we need to increase the fraction [of CO2] we bury at an average rate of one per cent for every 10 billion tonnes of global emissions. That’s not a policy – that’s a fact.
Alas, he’s still living in a world where scientists have facts and the rest of us only have opinions, and gives us a new twist on Keynes’ dictum: “When my opinion changes, I look for some new facts to support it. What you do sir is of no importance, unless you’re a climate scientist.”

May 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Well I certainlly won't be asking Myles to lead me to safety.

May 26, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

CCS is fracking without any economic benefits.

May 26, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

Have the serious CCS advocates considered landfilling huge amounts of forest and replacing with the fastest growing trees yet? and repeating when necessary....

May 26, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Sleipner field in the Norwegian sector of the Nirth Sea has CCS thanks to favorable geological structures.

May 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

It is obvious how we do CCS. We simply freeze it into dry ice and send it to the moon

Moon = Luna = lunatics = green taliban - ah simple

May 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I can only gasp in admiration at Professor Allen's gift for ideological flexibility, as he positions himself for the final collapse of CAGW theory. He has surely missed his true vocation. The higher echelons of the civil service are missing a Sir Humphrey.

May 26, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Solar and wind are 'mature technologies'. To make a money one needs to look for opportunities, which an unexplored, and capital-intensive field offers.
So CCS activity of good professor looks like a lobbying activity, sorry, an offer of a new, unbiased view.

CCS looks like a good opportunity for the largest oil and gas companies - they do have the technology for pipelaying, for injection, for control of the deposit sites. So earning money on complementary activities - extracting hydrocarbons and storing Co2.

Technically - as for the last years:
'Small' problem to solve is the Capture part, which is to occur at the power plants. I have read some position paper at IEEE about present CCS. The Capture - as for now - happens by using some solution to bind the Co2. Next the solution has to be heated up and then it releases the Co2. Subsequently the solution has to be cooled, and returns to the capture installation. Two drawbacks: heating of the solution - requires additional energy, and cooling of the solution - requires water and cooling towers. Basically, almost second power plant has to be built alongside of the one which delivers the electricity to the grid.

But I think we will be very hard hit by SmartGrids in Europe, before any CCS schemes come to reality. Someone has to pay for keeping the grid balanced, and to provide funds for grid stengthening, without explicitely rising the energy prices.

One cannot expect research money to be poured into fussion project (ITER) - too many players would loose :).

May 26, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterWAM

Some references from IEEE spectrum. Please note the political aspect of CCS they comment upon.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/clean-coal/carbon-capture-is-dead-long-live-carbon-capture
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/the-water-cost-of-carbon-capture
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/clean-coal/doe-will-spend-67-million-on-novel-carbon-capture-technologies
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/clean-coal/the-future-is-nowish-futuregen-20-gets-1-billion-for-co2-capture

May 26, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterWAM

Clean Coal and Carbon capture:
1) what is the percentage reduction obtained in trials that have already occurred?
2) what is the percentage reduction expected to be when in production?
3) what is the energy cost to perform this capture, with the percentage captured quoted as well?
4) how long will the captured carbon remain captured
5) what contingencies are planned for any mishap?
6) what will the financial, fuel and energy expenses be for the whole process?
7) by how many degrees Celsius will this activity lower the global temperature?

I think that this article should, itself, be filtered, pressurised, and re-injected, or ‘sequester’, it back underground.

That’s not a policy – that’s a fact.

Bishop, you are having me on?

"Fossil fuel industrialists will need a few years to gear up, but they won’t need taxpayer-funded subsidies.
They’ll simply need to do this to stay in business. All past evidence suggests that when industry is faced with technical challenges it needs to overcome, it’s ingenious at finding ways of doing so.
For our part, all we need to decide is that we want them to start now, rather than letting them carry on as they are – and let them claim in 20 years’ time that it’s too late, and that they need massive subsidies for carbon burial because they’re too big to fail."

He, Myles Allen, obviously is not part of the solution!

Scientists and engineers perform miracles, but if they start now they will be able to perform the impossible and, by the way,they won’t need taxpayer-funded subsidies, because they belong to the climate scientists!

"They’ll simply need to do this to stay in business. All past evidence suggests that when industry is faced with technical challenges it needs to overcome, it’s ingenious at finding ways of doing so."

I think they are ingenious enough to emigrate and leave the rest of us to die of cold!

"All we need to decide is that we want them to start now."

Haven't we have several years of Carbon Capture and Storage development already?
What are the latest results?
Where are the discussions on fuel efficiency? If it takes 30% more fuel to capture and store 20% CO2, why do it?

For it to be CLEAN coal I would expect at least 90% CO2 capture. So what is the latest figure?
Astound me!

May 26, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Let us remind ourselves of Myles Allen's previous contributions before we judge him too harshly:

ClimatePrediction - cofounded by Myles Allen

A "major error" has been discovered in the world's biggest online climate prediction project, backed by the BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4923248.stm

Temperatures around the world could rise by as much as 11C, according to one of the largest climate prediction projects ever run. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4210629.stm

Myles Allen's take on the Muir-Russel Review
...
Yet the only error in the actual data used for climate change detection to have emerged from this whole affair amounted to a few hundredths of a degree in the estimated global temperature of a couple of years in the late 1870s.............
Contrary to popular myth, the original "hockey stick" reconstructions of temperatures over the past millennium played no role in the IPCC's 2001 assessment that most of the warming over the past 50 years was likely to have been caused by rising greenhouse gas levels.
Possibly the most important criticism in the Muir Russell review is their finding that "given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the TAR), the [hockey-stick] figure supplied for the WMO report was misleading" for not making clear that the tree-ring series had been truncated and instrumental data spliced on.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jul/07/climategate-review-expert-verdict

Myles Allen's talk "Climate Change: So Last Decade"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-NpOcGhPwnw

May 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

... cont

Being set targets (and meeting them) is part and parcel of being a Scientist and an Engineer, as it is in most jobs, but to be treated so arrogantly, and by a member of the Thermal Alarmists, is risable.

For our part, all we need to decide is that we want the Alarmists to stop now, rather than letting them carry on as they are – and let them claim in 20 years’ time that it’s too late, and that the massive subsidies for carbon burial failed, Britain has lost its industry and more people have died of the cold, but the CO2 increase has increased food production.
(thinly disguised plagiarism alert!)

May 26, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Once again, the spectre of the mystic (or should that be mythic?) 2°C raises its head (though now it is 1.5°C). What is it with the fear of any temperature rise? Do these people live in dread during the winter, knowing that temperatures will soon soar by 20°C (we wish!) in six months, and what horrors are going to be inflicted upon us with such a rise! (Actually, with the thought of so much of the average flabby human being exposed, they may have a point.)

That besides, have they not considered how much better Europe and the UK are for the rise since the Little Ice Age? Okay, so there can be no more frost fairs on the Thames, but I am sure most would agree the climate now is much more equitable. Unless they have become the new soothsayers, how on God’s Earth can they have such confidence that any rise is doom for the planet?

Like the remarkably unphilosophical philosopher, Mary Tyler Moore (not her real name – that has slipped my mind, and I just can’t be arsed looking her up), at the Nobel 48 conference, declaring that we are harming the future… I mean, how the f**k can she know that?! Maybe we are actually making a far, far better future for far, far more people than they can possibly imagine, and the world will be a happier, healthier place for all life forms. We have absolutely no way of knowing which way it will swing – but, on historical records, the latter is the more likely. These Luddites – for that is what they are – should look to their namesake and consider what the world would be like if he had had his way.

p.s. I do have a longer rant regarding progress, and those who oppose it, and I am looking for a lot to slip it in. Be warned.

May 26, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Excellent argument from RR.
How can any of us know that actions we perform now will have adverse effects on or in the future?
We can be fairly sure there will be effects but what they will be we haven't a clue.

May 26, 2013 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

CCS? Are you kidding Mr. Allen, or is it that you're just elongating the green energy tragi-farce?

He [Allen] is not thinking this through.

Fossil fuels with CCS - is the same miasma of BS and lies - Dave still clings to..........it........

That, which justifies the supposed low carbon footprint of birdchoppers and solar arrays of photovoltaic panels. A paradoxical position - while at the same moment to be in complete denial of the tremendous industrial energy needed to mine, transport, produce and ship these things [birdmincers, solar panels] around the world.
Added to the then not inconsiderable [ho ho ho - the taxpayer liability] costs of planting these useless structures in totally unsuitable environments [off shore wind arrays - with all the massive disruption to marine environments - flora and fauna] and all for a piffling amount of generated electrical power - which jokingly has to be backed up with conventional FOSSIL FUEL power stations!

Somebody, anybody - please spare us from the anti-logic of green dogma.

May 26, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"Well, if the Transient Climate Response is
1C-2C, we’ll need to limit future emissions to around a trillion
tonnes of carbon.........
That’s not a policy – that’s a fact."

So that's a fact based on a supposition then.

May 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Then he should build more power plants alongside synfuel plants and use excess electricity to make dry ice for the synfuels. Call it recycling instead of the dreaded S word (sequester). Standalone nuke power plants would be even better.

Which brings us to the Greenies addressing Energy Poverty (yes, there is such a thing). Let every energy poor nation receive a power plant and synfuel plant - as many as they need. Tax Al Gore at 110% (the French method). Even toss in Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. Fix the energy poor first.

May 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

WAM on May 26, 2013 at 9:47 AM
"One cannot expect research money to be poured into fussion project (ITER) - too many players would loose"

The reason for ITER is to allow this potential solution to be 'parked' and for the participating Governments to 'move on'.

With such a rewarding potential, why would nations be willing to share the prize?

Still 40 years work to go to reach Fusion Nirvana, as it has been for the last 60 years.

May 26, 2013 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

CCS was tried afew years ago in Scotland,--- and abandoned as too costly. There was also the problem of guaranteeing that the CO2 pumped underground actually stayed there. Another problem encountered was the power required for the CCS reducing the energy produced by the power station. This means that there would be more power stations required for a given quantity of total energy required.
The whole exercise becomes self defeating.

May 26, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

John Marshall on May 26, 2013 at 11:10 AM "The whole exercise becomes self defeating."

So what will it take for this evidence to affect current energy policy?

Any evidence that is inconvenient is ignored, so there is never any inconvenient evidence.

May 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

RC,

Yearly 5 trillion dollars on energy markets. Do you think the available fussion technology (or LTFR) would not change anything in this situation? Phillips managed to ban conventional lamps in Europe, to earn money of CFL patents. Why the fussion research is so slowly going on?

Until 2035 the plans are to put about 30 bln Euro into this project, which should deliver 600 MW operating power plant. Compare this to these 5 trillion, or to subsidies to renewables, or other. Look also on Copenhagen plans - per year we were supposed to transfer 100 bln dollars to 3rd world economies. Yearly.

Now, in 10 years USA was able to put a man on the moon; in 5 years USA built from zero a nuclear industry (Manhattan). do you think such an effort is impossible today - if one really is decided to do so?
There were problems with financing it - all big players like USA of Japan thought for a moment that they can pull the trick (fussion) on their own.
But you may be right - it is a good to have another card for talking with big energy companies; once they know that a money might be put to ITER then they are a bit softer and more eager to listen to politicians.

May 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterWAM

The only Carbon Capture and Storage I'd accept is putting these alarmist liars and thieves in prison.

May 26, 2013 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

I love the sound of backpeddling in the morning.
This is what Myles Allen is doing- repositioning himself, whilst paying lip service to CAGW.

May 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The next AGW inspired policy to actually work will be the first.
Carbon capture, as envisioned by our climate concerned will not the next one to work.
Carbon capture is an idea that makes wind power look almost reasonable.

May 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Don Keiller - yep, shape shifter in action.

May 26, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Enhanced Oil Recovery or oil displacement by cabon dioxide injection. I'm off to the kitchen now.

May 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

The quiz at the end of the Mail article is worth its own separate post.

May 26, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

Having worked on the Japanese 'end of stack' technology to sequester CO2 should the World start to warm, I have some knowledge of the technology. The amine complexing takes out 40%. The power loss means 1/3 rd reduction of efficiency and that assumes we will put in many more injection points to reduce back pressure, and we fracc the sandstones first.

Meanwhile, the plants absorb 40% more CO2 now than a century ago. Temperate forests grow 3 times faster because the CO2 can penetrate the canopy.

Get CO2 up to 600 ppmV and we'll start producing new coal deposits. The problem is that because CO2 cannot cause warming, it's perfectly balanced by negative feedback, temperature fall in the new LIA will reduce growth kinetics and 100s of millions will starve.

May 26, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I would welcome Myles Allen's frankness. He recognises that policies can fail to meet their objectives. But the most important part of public policy-making is to evaluate policy before it is enacted. Before opting for the CCS alternative, he could consider the following steps.
First is to recognise that simply to identify a problem, does not automatically point to a solution.
Second, having a theoretical solution does not mean that a workable policy can be devised.
Third, having a potentially workable policy enacted will only bear fruit if implementation is properly managed and monitored.
When the issues are economic, with costs being incurred to prevent a greater potential harm, failure at any stage can mean failure overall. Lacking focus, or making compromises, can lead to overall failure as well.

May 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

As Myles Allen points out, since Kyoto world emissions have risen by 40%. And that’s almost entirely due to emissions by China, India and other so-called developing economies. So it’s there that action must be taken if emission reduction is to become a reality. But, so far, the only hope of achieving that has been the annual round of UN climate talks. Yet at Copenhagen the developing world comprehensively destroyed that hope. As Allen says, “ … if you suppose that the annual UN climate talks will save us, forget it.”

That means, of course, that his “solution” – the sequestration of CO2 – must be undertaken principally, and effectively unilaterally, by China, India etc. How realistic is that? Well, try going through his article replacing every reference to “we” by “China” – bearing in mind that there’s evidence that China may not even believe that AGW is a problem and, in any case, has made it repeatedly clear that its primary focus is on economic growth. It’s a revealing exercise.

It seems to me that, even if it were technically and economically feasible, Allen’s “solution” has no chance of being implemented.

May 26, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I actually think that Myles Allen makes quite a lot of valid points, not least that that 90 per cent of the measures adopted in Britain and elsewhere since the 1997 Kyoto agreement to cut global emissions are a waste of time and money. But, being an awkward climate physics nerd, I would like to question some of his facts.

Myles Allen addressed the issue of the effect of cumulative carbon emissions in a 2009 paper in Nature, Allen et al. "Warming caused by cumulative carbon emissions towards the trillionth tonne", available at http://www.fraw.org.uk/files/climate/allen_2009.pdf . The solid red curves in Figure 1 of that paper, representing a scenario involving total cumulative carbon emissions of 1 trillion tonnes, reveal that the simple climate model used, which has a carbon cycle module as well as a temperature module, has a transient climate response (TCR) of 2.3°C. The resulting peak global temperature increase is slightly over 1.9°C from pre-industrial levels.

The white crosses in Figure 2 of Allen et al. (2009) show that with cumulative carbon emissions of 4 trillion tonnes, the same model predicts a peak global temperature increase of almost exactly 4°C from pre-industrial levels. On that basis, the relationship between the peak temperature rise and total carbon emissions is nothing like linear. And although some of the coloured squares – representing the output of more complex models – don't show a declining slope for peak temperature rise against cumulative carbon emissions, all the sets of coloured squares extending beyond cumulative carbon emissions of 2 trillion tonnes do show a slowing rate of temperature increase with cumulative emissions.

If one scaled the 4°C rise for cumulative carbon emissions of 4 trillion tonnes shown in Allen et al. (2009) by the ratio of the best estimate for TCR of 1.3°C, per the recent Nature Geoscience paper that both Myles and I were authors of, to the 2.3°C TCR of the model used in Allen et al. (2009), the resulting temperature rise would be only 2.3°C – nowhere near as serious as a 4°C rise.

Of course, TCR may be higher than 1.3°C. The Nature Geoscience paper gave an upper bound (95% probability) of 2°C, for instance. And the slope of the peak temperature response to cumulative carbon emissions might not decline in line with the projections of the simple climate model used in Allen et al. (2009). On the other hand, TCR might be lower than 1.3°C, or the decline in the slope of the relationship with increasing cumulative emissions might be even more pronounced.

In view of the uncertainty, there seems to be sense in Myles' suggestion of formulating an initial policy and then revising it as knowledge of the response of the climate system, land, oceans and biosphere to carbon emissions improves. But the central case doesn't look to me to be as bad as he implies.

May 26, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

Geoff Chambers: Love the reworking of Keynes, as apt as it is witty.

Robin Guenier: Took the words right out of my keyboard! For what Allen writes to make any sense CCS has to be applied across the board by China and India, making their electricity much more expensive. Ain't gonna happen - but as stewgreen just said on Fantasy China, the inscrutable ones may never say it out loud quite like that. In fact I'm not sure I would, if I was them.

Nic Lewis: As always, it greatly helps that you've read the relevant papers, in this case Allen et al 2009, thank you. I strongly agree with Allen (and I assume with you) that it makes sense to wait until we reach the 1.5 deg C mark. But the situation is surely not as bad even as 1.3 TCR would suggest, based on the record since 1850. How far are we towards the 4 trillion right now?

May 26, 2013 at 4:57 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake: Allen's article says anthropogenic carbon emissions are 0.5 trillion tonnes to date, which is consistent with Allen et al. (2009). I don' think he is suggesting that we wait unitl we reach the 1.5 deg C mark before doing anything, rather that policy should be recalibrated at that stage. In that connection, I can see sense in putting some resources into CCS R&D, and pilot schemes, with a view to developing a cost effective, practical CCS method, rather than incurring the huge costs of subsidising "green" energy, but I don't think CCS is a very cost-effective or practicable technology right now.

May 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

" I can see sense in putting some resources into CCS R&D,"

I think the concept of CCS is a bit ridiculous. Surely cost/benefit analysis even with some level of CO2 warming would lead to the money being better used elsewhere.

May 26, 2013 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Richard Drake: when I first got involved in (what was then) global warming discussion - in late 2007 - I too indulged in pontification about what "we" should be doing. I was politely taken to task by a commentator who pointed out that "we" was a meaningless concept in this context: there are only individual economies with differing priorities, prejudices, political imperatives, international influence ... etc. He was right and I was wrong. Myles Allen seems not to have progressed beyond the "we" stage.

Nic Lewis: but who is the "we" who's not going to wait before doing anything, who's going to recalibrate policy, implement pilot schemes, etc?

May 26, 2013 at 5:28 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Nic: The answer was in the article but thanks! I've been in skimming mode too much today. I also agree that a bit of investment in CCS in countries like this is fine, as long as we get rid of all other green subsidies. Easier said than done no doubt.

Robin: What would media pontificators have if it wasn't for the word 'we'? :) But that commentator was right. Woolly thinking on this will do damage, of one kind or another.

May 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Is the promotion of CCS to be the last hurrah for those who so thrived on demonising CO2? It has the merit of being superficially easily explained and that is appealing for them (e.g. good for grants, good for getting gullible politicals on board along with their mates in the media, harmful for industrial competitiveness). As such, it may also be the last crumb for them as well. Let us hope the crumb is not too gross. We surely can’t afford much more of the harm they have caused by going for the whole cake of climate alarm with its attendant windfarms for the adults and admonitions to ‘switch off lights or a polar bear will die’ for the children, and no end of consultancy, preaching, and ‘heroic saviour of the planet’ opportunites for financial, spiritual, and professional rewards. At our expense. And here I am using ‘we’ on behalf of humanity itself. Pretentious? Moi?

May 26, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Bish - please can you add the tag "allen" to this post to make it easier for others to view Myles Past?

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/category/climate-allen

May 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"All past evidence suggests that when industry is faced with technical challenges it needs to overcome, it’s ingenious at finding ways of doing so."

Ah, that explains why autos have a buggy whip beside the steering wheel. And why our refrigerators must be serviced every other day by ice deliveries.

Yes, I feel the statement is largely correct. Henry Ford, annoyed by carbon dust in his factories, charged his engineers with devising a better way to clean up - and they went one better, coming up with the charcoal "briquette."

But pumping CO2 into deep wells? Considering the difficulties of establishing a new landfill for non-renewables, just where does he think this will be done, City of London? Consider, the US "established" a storage facility for nuclear waste in the Fifties - and it has not yet opened!

Now, if a really cheap conversion method - say, developing and planting some super-efficient vegetables or perhaps some way to break the CO2 molecule into O2 and C - were developed...

May 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn A

RC: "Being set targets (and meeting them) is part and parcel of being a Scientist and an Engineer... "at

I don't know about scientists so cannot comment, but engineers should never be set targets without their prior agreement that they can be met. There are too many people out there who believe if you instruct an engineer to build X in timescale Y that they should be able to do it. It is abundantly clear from the reports we've seen recently about the state of government projects that the "setting of targets" is seen as a magical way of achieving what you want. It is not.

Take the case of CCS, here is the engineering process:

1. A feasibility study takes place to assess if CCS can be achieved at all, and in what timescale;
2. In if it is feasible the engineers should provide the costs and the likely timescales;
3. If the politicos/business agrees to the costs and timescales a detailed plan should be worked by the engineers to nail the final costs and timescales.
4. If the politicos/business agree then they should raise the money and give the go ahead for the project;
5. As the engineers gave the costs and timescales they now own this spend and the dates and have a duty to deliver to them.

The very worst possible thing to do is to believe that if a politician/marketing person sets a target it can be met by the engineers. From long experience I can tell you with 100% certainty that targets so set will not be optimistic, they will be wildly optimistic and unachievable. Which takes us back to how the government manages such things and their record of success.

May 26, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

" As such, it may also be the last crumb for them as well. Let us hope
the crumb is not too gross"

mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL6E8F399H20120403?irpc=932

lots of money around still... Myles had a similar post back in December in the Guardian. I like this quote
" This leaves only two options: either we burn it, dump the CO2
generated into the atmosphere and live with the consequences (at
two degrees per trillion tonnes the maths isn't very complicated)
or we burn it and bury the CO2 underground. "

May 26, 2013 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

The UCG Association believe that not only could CCS be made to work, it could also be used for enhanced oil recovery and to extract coal bed methane - and actually be price competitive, as well:
http://www.ucgassociation.org/index.php/ucg-technology/a-cleaner-coal-option-ucg-ccs

If they are correct (and I have no idea if they are or not), this might go some considerable way to counter the arguments against burning coal. The planet has huge quantities of coal; if its energy is extracted in the ground and the CO2 stays in the ground, then it's a win-win situation - we get our abundant energy, the greens get their CO2 sequestration. Everyone's happy. :)

Having said that, I doubt that everyone would be happy; remember the "carbon fairy" thought experiment...

May 26, 2013 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

I think CCS schemes should go ahead but drilling/pumping/fracking should stop if any microseism exceeds 0.5ML.

May 26, 2013 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

The quiz at the end of the article is worth reading. It won't come as any surprise to those of us who study the subject, but will be a real eye opener to the general public.

Have a look here, and circulate it widely.

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/take-the-mail-on-sunday-quiz/

May 26, 2013 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

I've now done the quiz. And I thought I knew it all. What does one call it when one takes another look at the facts and feels the need to move from polite sceptic to laugh-in-their-face complete-and-utter-bollocks if-it's-the-last-thing-I-do terminator? :)

Immense work by the editorial and graphics folk of the Mail on Sunday. You've made some of us look like wimps but this could, as Paul and others imply, change the UK debate overnight.

May 26, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Ironically Myles Allen's hope-for-the-future might turn out to be a happy by-product of the search for more fuel resources.
Methane Hydrates are found all around the world and are estimated to hold many times the combined total of all other gas resources. One way to extract the gas is to displace the methane molecules from the ice structures with an alternative gas. Trials were run for a month last summer up in Alaska to recover methane using CO2 as the displacing gas - effectively sequestering it.
Obviously this is a decade or two from viability - if it ever gets there - and it would not actually reduce the atmospheric inventory of CO2. However, if I have understood it correctly, it is a 1 : 1 molecular swap so we would get the energy with no net addition. In contrast I believe the current state-of-the-art CO2 capture systems are only 40 - 50% efficient and there is a huge penalty in terms of parasitic power demand.
On the same lines, the efforts to use genetically-engineered algae to absorb CO2 for power station exhausts and produce biofuel might offer the same outcome: provision of fuels with no net increase in CO2.
The Hydrates technology is just a fortuitous benefit. Personally I think CCS is a huge waste of time, effort and money. Mother Nature has coped very well in the past with much higher levels of CO2 than we will ever achieve - we should leave it to the professional!

May 26, 2013 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

This might be of interest as retrofit technology rather than stand-alone projects:

http://ghgnews.com/index.cfm/doee28099s-first-large-scale-ccs-project-begins-operations-in-texas

May 26, 2013 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

This is all still madness to talk about C02 as being any problem AT ALL. By all measures rising C02 is Good very good for us and life on earth and has no effect whatsoever on climate or us unless apparently it reaches 60000ppm LOL

May 26, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterFitzcarraldo

1) Is there any chance possibility that Myles would be a highly paid consultant for such a ccs scheme?

2) Why don't the eco-fascists arguments against fracking apply to ccs?

May 26, 2013 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterB Williams

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