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« The BMJ's supersleuth | Main | RealClimate on Lewis and Curry »
Tuesday
Oct072014

Corruption, calamity and silliness

Richard North has been doing some interesting analysis of the new carbon capture and storage project in Saskatchewan, which was widely reported in a few days ago. Here's what the Guardian had to say at the time:

Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe.

The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming.

And here is what they didn't tell their readers:

...of the total $1.4 billion plant cost, the reports put the actual cost of upgrading the 30-year-old plant at $400 million, putting the CCS at a cool billion, tripling the capital needed to provide a modest 110MW generating capacity.

But the omissions don't stop there. The original plant was rated at 139MW so, for the expenditure of $1.4 billion, the Canadians have ended up with an overall reduction of 29MW capacity. Here, Ibbett's dishonesty is compounded by that of the plant operator, SaskPower, which tells Reuters that the loss of the 29MW capacity represents an "energy penalty" of around 20 percent.

We have to go to a local report, however, to find that the upgrade, including a new, high-efficiency boiler and steam turbine, cranked up the nameplate capacity to 162MW. But the CCS unit needs about 34 MW to operate, resulting in a "parasitic loss" of about 21 per cent of plant's power. Then, another 18MW are needed for other systems, reducing the net output to 110MW.

This cost of 52MW represents a loss not of 20 percent, as the plant operator is stating, but 32 percent, just one point short of a full third loss in capacity. Effectively, therefore, efficiency is cut by a third, for a tripling of the capital cost.

Read the whole thing. You have to say, CCS looks as if it is going to be the most absurd waste of money since, well, windfarms.

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Reader Comments (71)

Cant they just plant a Forrest next door.

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I think most serious professionals have been saying for a long long time that CCS is a non-starter and a complete waste of resources. It's water off a DECC's back.

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Ironically this is just about the best CCS going thanks to the particular issues in Saskatchewan - geography, resources, energy demand, politics (local and Canadian), oil and gas interests. I doubt if it is possible to replicate these conditions elsewhere. Other projects will be less viable!

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterjheath

Suzanne Goldenberg keeping the CAGW and its pretend solutions alive and well. What else would one expect from the Guardian these days - real journalism?

All of the wonderful green solutions - solar, electric cars, windfarms (with their Chinese magnets), wood chippings, CCS - are great bargains as they are saving the planet from all that hidden heat! Far better spending the billions on this fabulous technology than spending it on less important things e.g. - reducing fuel poverty, conquering ebola, defeating ISIL, etc.

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

jamspid

No, not anymore, trees are now out!

To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees

" ............The assumption is that planting trees and avoiding further deforestation provides a convenient carbon capture and storage facility on the land.

That is the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom is wrong.
In reality, the cycling of carbon, energy and water between the land and the atmosphere is much more complex. Considering all the interactions, large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse............."

You put your left leg in......

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Here's what our supposed experts in the DECC made of the Canadian CCS project:

A momentous day for CCS. (good to see the comments from a few BH regulars).

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

We have the insanity of Ed Davey's energy policies, the corruption discussed above and the disgraceful corruption of climate science discussed in an essay by R G Brown over at WUWT. He explains in detail why the climate models are useless and how they have been constructed to create the desired output.

Climate change probably started as junk science, but it is now a trillion dollar industry subsidised by the taxpayers and consumers. The growth of this industry is fuelled by corrupt science and bogus claims by NGOs, charities and environmental activists, all reaping record income driven by alarmism. In addition to all of that, climate change is the vehicle for the advancement of political change and dogma ranging from the distribution of wealth to the destruction of industry and capitalism. Climate change is the vehicle for universal activism and it keeps delivering.

Academia, learned societies and the government endorse this direction of travel as does the BBC which provides the broadcast facilities for transmission of the propaganda.

As the evidence of all of this builds up, the censorship of sceptical voices on the airwaves means that the diet of alarmism continues unabated. All groups have their snouts in the trough and they wish to perpetuate this situation indefinitely.

Oct 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The CO2 will be used for enhanced oil recovery. Buried in the Guardian piece, it is noted that EOR is already ongoing, using CO2 from another source. The CCS plant will, therefore, store no additional CO2.

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Fossil fuels won't last forever (though in the future with cheap enough energy liquid fuels may be syntheised).

Any sane person would be aiming to use the existing resource as efficiently as possible, instead of wasting an extra
30% on this nonsense.

And they are depriving 3rd world farmers of increased crop yields.

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Meanwhile Ed Davey said on the Today programme that the Liberals will announce a policy to ban coal fired generation by 2025

The rest of his interview was a car-crash about his gatwick airport u-turn

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

Am I the only one who thinks that a 162MW power station is rather small? Most modern ones are up around 2,000MW capacity. I don't speak or read Chinese, but I can translate the reply they'd make if someone told them to build a 2000MW station to output 1360MW.

If the heroes of the Guardian are sending the CO2 for frakking, then the process will involve cooling the exhaust gases, absorbing the CO2 into an acceptor (liquid or solid), recovering the CO2, compressing the CO2 and then cooling it before dispatch underground. I am surprised they can do that with a mere 52MW capacity.

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Oh my! They could have built a thorium fueled power plant and have solved all the engineering challenges plus they would have created an export market for cheap, plentiful power to sell in the third world. Maybe even the UK (and even Prince Charles likely realized he needs electricity for tea).

A classic example of propaganda where a populace can be made to "feel good" about themselves while being extorted. What better con than that?

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

".......enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe..."

That's pretty low bar is also easily reached by doing nothing at all, just like the SO2 scrubbers that prevent the non-existent threat of acid rain.

Oct 7, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Graeme No. 3:

Scaling up 12 times would manage to be noticeable I think: justifying wasting so much money on Green vanity might be rather difficult.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Once again skeptics are right: CCS is a failed technology.
Speaking of skeptics being correct, NASA now agrees the heat is not missing in the oceans:
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/06oct_abyss/
The obvious answer is that the heat is missing in reality and that the models are wrong.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

As I've said before, somebody is going to win the Pulitzer and be as famous as Woodward and Bernstein when the Greenshirt wave finally breaks. But much to the chagrin of those of us who, like the brilliant Richard North, have been banging on about this for years now, and have suffered the abuse of the MSM and establishment, it will be one of their own who does it.

But it won't be until the dam was about to break of its own accord.

We know they don't listen to anyone else. It'll have to come from a high MSM establishment figure who will go down in history as 'brave and selfless, a lone voice crying in the wilderness', before achieving media sainthood for pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes.

We will just be ignored, as ever. No one will be punished. Lessons will be learned. The gravy train will switch tracks and roll on.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Re the Today program; at first I thought it was only the green party that could have a blanket ban on new runways. Under Nick Clegg the party has not only stolen green party policy but they have also now managed to emulate their feeble support. What an utter fool to think being more faux-green than the greens was a vote-winner - we're not in Germany yet!

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

hunter: "Once again skeptics are right"

Of course skeptics are right - scepticism is basically a (little c) conservative viewpoint of the evidence. So, when you base your views on the evidence and are very careful what you imply - you are going to be right almost all the time.

It's what they used to call "science" before it became a brand-name for academic eco-nonsense.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:31 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Even the $400m for the upgrade to 162MW seems a but expensive. That is equivalent to £5bn ($8bn)for a new coal-fired plant the capacity of DraxB or the new Hinkley C nuclear power station at 3.2GW.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

So basically a power station had a Pimp My Ride makeover and all the politicians are going gaga for the paint job and flashing lights. Cost exploded and fuel efficient down 30 odd percent but who cares about that. Look at the exhaust!!

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

This project allows us to:
•Produce 110 megawatts (MW) of power, which is approximately enough to power 100,000 Saskatchewan homes;

Prior to the upgrade I guess they produced enough power for approximately 120,000 homes.

Oct 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

All groups have their snouts in the trough and they wish to perpetuate this situation indefinitely.
Oct 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM Schrodinger's Cat

It long ago reached the necessary critical mass of True Believers and now is self perpetuating.

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

hunter: 'NASA now agrees that heat is not missing in the oceans..'

Oh, my days..! And there was me thinking 'twas the truth - and that was where September's missing wind went as well..!

Whatever next..? A sensible energy policy from the LibDems..?

Now I'm REALLY being stupid...

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

That increased cost is just the "up-front" equipment costs; how about the increased cost to maintain the CCS equipment and the operational cost of delivering/sequestering the CO2? The penalties are even greater than the initial 32%!

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterHmmm

Hunter

Do you think Nigel Lawson will receive an apology now for saying deep heat in the oceans was just an assertion on the BBC?

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Simple solution.

Place a newspaper advertisement stating that carbon dioxide is valuable.

Then, it will be stolen!!!!

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

The answer is quite simple: I am surprised no-one has thought of it. We built a row of 1940's-style coal burning power station along the south coast of England and erect massive reverse wind turbines immediately to the north of them. Power from the station drives the turbines which then blow the smoke across the channel. Result: we get an abundance of electricity and pollute the French at the same time. What could be better.

Oct 7, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterW.S.Becket

Further to reports of Davey's appearance on Today (R4), I was also struck by his claim that technology will soon enable airports like Heathrow to expand because we'll soon have 'carbon-free flights'!!!! (Bangs head against wall - again! Arrgghhh!)

Oct 7, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Apart from the fact that this plant is producing one third less energy for three times the price, what about the environmental effects of the captured CO2? The DECC blog says this (one million tons of CO2 per year) will be used for enhanced oil recovery and the excess permanently stored in deep underground rock formations.

Exactly how much CO2 can these oil and rock formations safely hold - have they done the math, or are they just keeping their fingers crossed? Also, unless they are doing some heavy duty mechanical and chemical scrubbing of the waste CO2 it is likely to be contaminated with some potentially carcinogenic pyrolysis products that could contaminate aquifers.

How can the ecoloonies praise this sort of technology when they're so anti-frakking?

Oct 7, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Martyn

“enough to power 100,000 Saskatchewan homes”

I’d be surprised if the average Saskatchewanian home requires as little as 1.1kW to keep it going. It’s below freezing 8 months of the year...

Oct 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Big Green is clutching at straws here. Whilst on paper being able to burn fossil fuels without producing 'dangerous' CO2 is mighty attractive, in reality -

- The 30% loss in efficiency is a waste of natural resouces that can't be replenished
- The possibility to sequester Co2 would appear to be connected to a need for fracking [of fossil fuels]
- The technology is in use on a relatively small scale here. Is it indeed scalable?
- The capital investment makes the whole project ridiculously expensive. is it commercially viable?

Oct 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

To quote Ibbett "For the UK, CCS is one part of our future low carbon mix, and could support 15,000 -30,000 jobs by 2030."

So that will be around 10,000 civil servants and PR consultants at DECC trying to justify the ridiculous cost, 19,999 renewable energy consultants and environmental consultants to back them up, and one old git with a big spanner to give the machinery a good twatting when breaks down and stops working.

Oct 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/6/5/cameron-sceptical-of-ccs.html
"does it make sense...........before we know whether Carbon Capture and Storage works properly ?
It does not work and the businesses that I talk to say that it is not their priority"
David Cameron on 5th June 2013, As reported by Bishop Hill.

Can you trust anything that "Dave" says ?

Oct 7, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

It may be considered a failure as an economical way to reduce CO2 emissions but it was probably worth a try, even if the only thing to come out of it is a better understanding of the difficulties of CCS.

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

Oct 7, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Do you think he meant carbon fibre flights, like the Boeing Dreamliner?

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

"The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming."

Actually, on current evidence it seems that we can go on burning coal and avoid dangerous global warming without the need for cc and storage. Have we not seen "unprecedented rises in co2 emissions" without the accompanying rise in temps!

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderlandsteve

Does the CO2 end up leaking back into the atmosphere?

http://climateandcapitalism.com/2011/01/11/report-co2-leaking-from-saskatchewan-ccs-site/

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

"This cost of 52MW represents a loss not of 20 percent, as the plant operator is stating, but 32 percent, just one point short of a full third loss in capacity. Effectively, therefore, efficiency is cut by a third, for a tripling of the capital cost."

A net efficiency loss of 32% means an extra (1 / (1-0.32)) - 1 = 0.47, or 47% extra fuel to be consumed, ( each day! :) )

That's nearly half as much again, and it will require machines to bring the fuel in - I hope they run on solar.

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:32 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Oct 7, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Do you think he meant carbon fibre flights, like the Boeing Dreamliner?

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

That would be 'funny', Neil. What would a Dreamliner look like if it was 'carbon-free'? ;-)

Oct 7, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Grounded

Oct 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

It is posiible the job of the high cost of this CCS there is to make magic solar & magic wind turbine seem competitive against oil ?
(which is impossible as sheiks will sell it for anything rather than just leave it in the ground)

Oct 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Salopian

"one old git with a big spanner"

Who, one hopes, will say that it can't be fixed and should never have been built that way in the first place.

The photo seems to show a big inverted funnel where the chimney should be. It doesn't look very sophisticated...

Oct 7, 2014 at 5:30 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Nick Clegg u turned on tuition fees he can u turn on runways.

Power cuts looming soon u turn on decarbonisation

Oct 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

The 'safe' storage of the underground CO2 is of no consequence as an argument, as they know (but won't admit) that, should it escape, it won't cause any harm anyway.

Oct 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

I am starting to be convinced in Kerry, that climate change is the biggest challenge.... It is however not the climate in itself, but all the political measures going on in the name of climate change.

Oct 7, 2014 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSvend Ferdinandsen

"It may be considered a failure as an economical way to reduce CO2 emissions but it was probably worth a try, even if the only thing to come out of it is a better understanding of the difficulties of CCS." --rabbit

It is, believe it or not, possible to predict the outcome of most projects fairly accurately on paper, without having to actually proceed. Reductio ad absurdum:

"Shooting people in the head may be considered a failure as an economical way to reduce CO2 emissions but it was probably worth a try, even if the only thing to come out of it is a better understanding of the difficulties of getting people to stand still while we shoot them in the head." --Smedley Q. Fisque

Oct 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Follow the money!

Oct 7, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The BBC will apologize for their role in deceiving the world on the non-crisis of so-called global warming exactly never.
NASA will use the article where they admit to no warming as a rationale to request even more money dumped ito the climate "science" rat hole.

Oct 7, 2014 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

few OTT comments on this thread

here is another

Robert Brown in brilliant form

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/06/real-science-debates-are-not-rare/

apologies Bish

Oct 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

A 110mW coal-fired steam plant?

Glad they've got the land and infrastructure to waste on a generator that small.

Most places 110mW of generating capacity isn't even worth a rail spur.

Oct 7, 2014 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

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