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The Yeomen's report

Tim Yeo and the merry men of the Commons' Energy and Climate Change Committee have released their report into carbon capture and storage. The conclusions are pretty much as you might expect, with the committee calling for the government to bung money at CCS companies and to do it quickly, quickly, quickly. The interesting bit, however, was always going to be the bit on the technical challenges. And also much as you might expect this is buried and consists largely of brushing the problems under the carpet:

It was repeatedly asserted that scientific and engineering challenges were not major factors preventing the development of CCS. Mr Warren CEO of the CCSA argued that the number of CCS projects operating or under construction around the world,“gives us a high degree of confidence that this is not a technical or scientific challenge”. Despite this there is limited experience in integrating the components which make up CCS into full-chain projects. Ongoing research and development will be critical to drive improvements...

This is followed by an extended discussion about storage capacity for carbon dioxide in the UK and ultimate acceptance that "scientific and engineering challenges are not a major barrier to deploying CCS".

Are they serious?

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Reader Comments (86)

let me guess...there is nobody in the committee with any scientific or engineering experience.

May 21, 2014 at 9:50 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"Are they serious?"

Yeo is always serious when there's gravy involved. Especially for him.

May 21, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Why, in heaven's name, would anyone want to bury CO2? Bonkers, all of it.

May 21, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

apparently, everything's fine because we have fizzy drinks

May 21, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Tim Yeo is a fantasist. He tried but failed to push through an amendment to secure a commitment to reduce the UK’s electricity generation carbon intensity to 50tCO2/GWh by 2030. He has been deselected by his parliamentary constituency.

The fact is that our attempts to decarbonise UK electricity generation are not working. The carbon efficiency of UK electricity generation has flatlined since online records started in 2005, despite all the wind farms built since then. This information is publicly available in the form of the “all fuels” UK electricity generation carbon intensity as reported in the annually published Digest of UK Energy Statistics. The relevant data for 2005 and 2012, both exactly 483tCO2/GWh, can be found by searching in the 2008 and the latest 2013 report for the phrase “estimated carbon”.

Little improvement is likely over the coming decade as the closure of CO2 emitting coal power stations under the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive is offset by the planned closure of all but one of our aged zero emissions nuclear power stations. These will have to be replaced in terms of their grid baseload (nuclear and coal) and balancing (coal) capabilities. Wind power is hopelessly unreliable on baseload and cannot perform balancing at all, in fact it just makes it more difficult. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an expensive and potentially dangerous pipe dream. So how are we going to keep the lights on?

Engineering reality means that the politicians’ dream of decarbonising UK electricity generation to 50tCO2/GWh by 2030, a reduction of 90% from the 2012/2005 value of 483, is nothing but a naïve fantasy. We should learn from the Germany experience where they have much more wind and solar than the UK yet they are committing to build about 40 new coal and gas fired power stations (non-CCS) in a desperate attempt to keep their lights on. It’s high time we had a major re-think in this country.

For details see reason 6 in

May 21, 2014 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brodie

Harrabin has the story:

"Oil and gas fields in UK could become CO2 dumps, say MPs"

May 21, 2014 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Bish - don't let anybody fool you. By the same mindset, there is no technological or scientific challenge to send a probe to Alpha Centauri really.

It's all a matter of cost...

May 21, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

We already have a Carbon Capture device called a tree and its solar powered.

May 21, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

CCS not linked to enhanced oil recovery has to be the most bonkers of all government policies dreamt up by morons. We are running low on indigenous primary energy production and we all know we need to get more energy efficient. CCS consumes energy, lots of it and effectively knackers the energy efficiency of any power station it is fitted to. We get zero, absolutely f*g nothing in return. Longannet for example would drop from 39 to 29% efficient.

End of the day it generates higher electricity prices - all designed to make wind and solar cost competitive.

May 21, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

The words "living in cloud cuckoo-land" spring to mind.
Normally one would ROL, but here is yet another example that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

May 21, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Re omnologos at 9.50 Peter Lilley is on the Energy and Climate Change Comittee. He is, I think, the only technically literate member - his main "thing" seems to be windmills although he did give a scathing speech about Carbon Dioxide paranoia about 6 months ago. Perhaps he actually thinks this is a good idea. I will ask him - he is my MP

May 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterColinF

Jules Verne describing CCS in 1870 ("Autour de la Lune"):

There now remained only the question of air; for allowing for the consumption of air by Barbicane, his two companions, and two dogs which he proposed taking with him, it was necessary to renew the air of the projectile. Now air consists principally of twenty-one parts of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen. The lungs absorb the oxygen, which is indispensable for the support of life, and reject the nitrogen. The air expired loses nearly five per cent. of the former and contains nearly an equal volume of carbonic acid, produced by the combustion of the elements of the blood. In an air-tight enclosure, then, after a certain time, all the oxygen of the air will be replaced by the carbonic acid-- a gas fatal to life. There were two things to be done then-- first, to replace the absorbed oxygen; secondly, to destroy the expired carbonic acid; both easy enough to do, by means of chlorate of potassium and caustic potash. The former is a salt which appears under the form of white crystals; when raised to a temperature of 400 degrees it is transformed into chlorure of potassium, and the oxygen which it contains is entirely liberated. Now twenty-eight pounds of chlorate of potassium produces seven pounds of oxygen, or 2,400 litres-- the quantity necessary for the travelers during twenty-four hours.

Caustic potash has a great affinity for carbonic acid; and it is sufficient to shake it in order for it to seize upon the acid and form bicarbonate of potassium. By these two means they would be enabled to restore to the vitiated air its life-supporting properties.

Can't wait for the Yeomen to pick up this idea really. I suggest to buy potash futures (not).

May 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"The Technical challenges mean we must grow more tulips more quickly than ever before".

May 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterGiixxerboy


Many greenhouse crops will grow faster when exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Greenhouse carbon dioxide levels are increased from 350 ppm to 600-1000 ppm by direct injection to the greenhouse atmosphere. Greenhouse vents must be closed to contain the supplemental carbon dioxide, so enrichment is usually employed during the winter. Add low grade (waste) heat and off peak lights, surround power stations with greenhouses... job done.

btw - even when enormous (effectively unlimited) sums of money are thrown at it - CCS as presently promoted by these out of touch fantasist wantwits simply is not working - as the Noggies discovered at Mongsatdt

CCS promoters make flat-earthers look sane.... cucumbers and sunbeams... cucumbers and sunbeams.

Calling Yeo&Co morons is just so far short - we need some new words!

May 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Can someone crunch the numbers to show in a simple, clear and rational way that CCS is so pointless that it would be as near to stark-raving bonkers a UK gov't policy as we'll ever see? (Maybe Lord Monckton, who is excellent at this sort of technical dissection?)

UK emissions - global equivalent 2%
% estimate of UK CO2 sequestered annually....? Half? A quarter? 10%? Less? If we sequestered even 10% of our total emissions (an absurdly high figure, surely) then we'd be 'saving' a whopping 0.2% of global emissions.

What impact would that have on temperatures? (the crux of the 'problem', remember) CO2 emissions have rocketed these last 15 years or so yet there's been NO temperature increase, therefore any impact on temperatures would be less than negligible. It would literally be too small to measure.

How long would it take for any global rise in emissions to wipe out any 'savings' made by the UK adopting CCS? The Chinese are increasing their annual CO2 output by more than the UK's entire annual output, therefore how long would it take for China alone to offset whatever we're looking to sequester here in the UK? A month? 6 weeks? At a cost of billions?!

My God this is so silly.

We have multiple infrastructures close to collapse across the whole of the UK. We have a record debt to repay. We have a thousand more pressing and real problems to solve, and another thousand after that. Yet a £multi-billion CCS scheme that would have precisely zero effect on rising global emissions or on temperatures - and therefore precisely zero effect on any of the supposed problems caused by (currently non-existent) 'global warming', is being seriously proposed? This is so stupid it hurts.

May 21, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Mongstad would be a good place to start in your talking money.

May 21, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Anyone asserting there are not serious fundamental issues that make CC technology dubious at best is either deceived or deceitful.

May 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

12. We were particularly impressed with the 'radical' technology outlined by Mr Allam,
Technical Director of NET Power which if successful could have a potentially profound
effect on the energy industry. The NET Power cycle burns fossil fuels in pure oxygen and
uses the resultant CO2 as a 'working fluid' to drive turbines rather than steam. As such,
carbon capture becomes an inherent feature of the process with no additional capture
technology required because CO2 is produced naturally as a by-product. Mr Allam
explained that his system could produce electricity at a lower cost that any existing fossil
fuel based power system. He also reported that the Government had been very supportive
of the technology.


May 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I worked on the two international CCS programmes: IEA and NEDO/MiTI.

The use of oxygen combustion means you don't have to use chemical or membrane separation. However, you have to factor in the energy cost of the LOX plant and, most critically, of pumping CO2 at 100+ Bar liquid to the reservoirs.

The reservoirs must be >3,000 ft depth, capped and permeable. To get the permeability thereby to reduce the number of pipelines to pump the desired mass flow means the sandstone has to be fracced thoroughly. That will be an enormous cost too, and the reservoir entry shifted on a regular basis.

May 21, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

The report cites one Mike Fernandez, Executive director, Sustainable Energy Branch, Government of Alberta as saying

• Norway has done the right thing. [...]. He still thinks they will see CCS in Norway.

Yet in September 2013, even the BBC reported The outgoing government in Norway has buried much-vaunted plans to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground

The government-owned Swedish "energy giant" Vattenfall swung the executioners axe on CCS about two weeks ago.

I can find no mention of these facts in the report.

May 21, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin A

NET Power is also developing its coal system in parallel to the natural gas system. The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change provided funding to support a “Path to Coal” design study for NET Power coal plants.

“This announcement helps maintain the UK’s place leading the world in CCS, to deliver an affordable and secure low carbon energy mix,” said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey (Uh-oh...)

more here

I'm not saying it's not going to work - but they seem to be swerving how they're going to get all that pure O2 (and how much it'll cost) - I worked with oxygen concentrators 30 years ago and they were a royal PITA....

May 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Qui Bono??

May 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Tell James Verdon that you can't argue this on cost.

Cost is no object in fighting the rise of the bad carbon.

As long as the cost falls on the energy bill payers who have no say in whether they sponsor it or not.

May 21, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

I do wonder how many people (including Yeo) realise that CO2 comprises less than 1/20 of one percent of the atmosphere. Most behave as though it were the major constituent!

May 21, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The famous question Dorothy asked in The Wizard of Oz: "What would you do if you HAD a brain?"

If the Greens want to market an idea that might "curtain" CO2 and spend vast sums of money, then they should promote nuke power driving hydrocarbon recycling. Build the nuke power stations alongside existing hydro pipeplines. Methane, gasoline, diesel -- all super clean with the raw materials extracted from the air. What could be more "green" than that.

Oh, and stop all that wasteful recycling of garbage. The world has huge areas simply created for landfills.

May 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

"We were particularly impressed with the 'radical' technology outlined by Mr Allam..."

Meaning that someone showed them a polished Powerpoint presentation and used some impressive-sounding words that they didn't understand.

"CO2 is produced naturally as a by-product"

I think they'll find this is quite a regular feature of power production. Clearly the word 'naturally' appealed to them...

May 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

why would we store trace gas plant fertilizer ?? does the uk plan a giant greenhouse somewhere??

May 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterbalthasard

The Civil Service Audit Office got the cost on how much this report cost to write.

How many private consultants they used and how much they all got payed.

Any of these CCS consultants they used got connections to Yeo or Gummer

Perhaps Lord Gummer and our Tim are thinking about getting out of Wind Turbines and investing in CCS from now on.

Anybody been watching the FT Stock Market shares in Wind Turbines and Carbon Capture companies.

May 21, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS, is a chemically difficult and very costly way to try to trap and to throw away comparatively miniscule quantities of useful plant food.

May 21, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenteredmh

ColinF (10:57 AM):

Peter Lilley is also my MP. And I know him reasonably well. It might be interesting to meet: perhaps you might ask BH for my email address?

May 21, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I wonder if anyone has followed the money to see who is going to benefit from the recommendations.

May 21, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

CCS cannot be that important, it's not included in the Longitude Prize 2014

May 21, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Carbon capture, ha ha ha, I recall a Company recently taking the axe to several years work on the grounds that it was not viable.. That says it all.
As to using Oxygen to burn hydro carbon fuels, it imposes several extra costs on the plant. There were some years ago several such oxygen plants producing and piping 99% pure O2 at 600psi to many of our large steel making plants. Blowing it through a Bessemer Converter reduced the time for the steel making to a fraction of the normal time. Th3 only thing to watch was the lubrication of any valves in the system....normal lubricants + oxygen = biiiig baaang!

May 21, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

As we all know, fracking causes earthquakes (ask any Green) - but then of course burying carbon dioxide at high pressure underground, won't....

Well..? Can anyone say for certain..?

(But then again, these would presumably be 'nice' earthquakes rather than the 'nasty' ones caused by fracking...)

May 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

One pinhole, and it ALL comes out again....

May 21, 2014 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Schrodinger's Cat - Tch, tch. CCS is an altruistic planet saving endeavour. No one will make a cracker out of it.

You know it makes sense.

May 21, 2014 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Apart from the issue that cost IS an engineering issue, nothing can be said to be a sound engineering prospect until large scale tests are done. What might work in the small does not always scale up. Also, problems that might not be apparent over a short timescale may become enormous over time.

Like a teenager with a crush, I fear the Climate Change Committee need to get their CCS romance out of their system. The main question is how badly will WE get hurt over their obsession?

May 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Martin A
I followed the link to the NET site. It all looks very impressive and I don't have the science to argue with it but like you I've got my doubts. Sooner or later all this CO2 has to go somewhere or the power station will explode which brings us back to CCS again, surely.
My first reaction was the same as tomo and Derek Buxton: where the hell is all this expensive pure oxygen going to come from and at what cost? And what are the by-products of producing that?
It seems that tomo's idea of using the CO2 for enhancement in local greenhouses has more chance of making any sort of sense, commercial or environmental.
Assuming any of it is practical, of course.

May 21, 2014 at 1:33 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Meaning that someone showed them a polished Powerpoint presentation and used some impressive-sounding words that they didn't understand.

Exactly what I thought! Here are those words from their website:

"... the Allam Cycle uses a high-pressure, highly recuperative, oxyfuel, supercritical CO2 cycle ..."

Just send money ...

May 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

It's like a perpetual machine idea, we extract fossil fuel, burn it and then put the emissions in a hole in the ground - equilibrium [after a few billion years] and no power is gained and no benefit accrued either, how sustainable is it?

Thus, true, CCS is economic lunacy....anyone can see that, a sort of reverse lunacy - 'what you put in not will not cover the costs of getting it out' but it all fits in pretty nicely with the green agenda. All of which as we can observe, the green agenda is steaming piles of heaps of lies, stacked upon oceans of lunacy. Renewables; birdmincers, PV arrays - I mean,

"none of it has to work - it's the principle innit?"

" yer know............. saving the polar bear an' stuff" - we'll all be well shot of it and either working in a private consultancy, or retired before the s&*4 hits the fan mate!"

- "won't we?"

Tim Yeo, rat featured can smile, his dirty work almost done and fat pension and cush-ty sinecure to look forwards to and a generator at the back of the mansion..........."MMMmwahh darling just in case!" Deselected, out of Parliament soon, his design is all scorched earth policy - about turning windmills in the sky.

May 21, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

British Oxygen Company not only supply Bottles of Oxygen for Hospitals.They,re are also set to begin development of a CCS at DRAX B coal fired power station.

Keep Digging.

May 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Plants plant.

May 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

White Rose Carbon Capture Consortium Yeo grubby little mitts have to be in there somewhere.

May 21, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I'd like to believe the Allam Cycle is the answer to all our prayers.

I'd also like to believe that LENR is /sarc.

But I don't. They are both "real soon now" technologies neither of which are yet to be proven in production.

Meanwhile in the UK the lights start going out winter 2015 at or earlier depending on who you talk to...

May 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

I have tried to connect Yeo to one of the companies involved but so far; no luck :(

This is wrong on so many levels that you are lost for words really.

This project will not go ahead unless the UK and the EU (taxpayers) pay for it, so as has been said it is a cost not a benefit.
Many other countries have tried to make CCS work but all have failed (after spending much taxpayers cash).
CO2 is a harmless and life giving gas to both plants and animals (AND US ^.^)
If CO2 is harmful our unilateral action has no effect other than to destroy our economy and rob and/or freeze to death our population.

I realise that you know all of this but I had to write it down anyway, sorry.

May 21, 2014 at 3:19 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The idea of using pure O2 will lead to cleaner burns, but managing the fuel to O2 properly so as not to get over heated is going to be challenging. Coal and even natural gas will leave significant non-CO2 combustion by products. Cleaning those out to leave only CO2 will be expensive.
Getting pure O2 is not cheap.
Running turbines on pressurized CO2 is going to require pumps and special turbines. Pumping CO2 under pressure deep underground and hoping it will stay is a weak hope. CO2 reacts with groundwater forming a weak acid that over time will break down calcium carbonate containing strata. CO2 under pressure is giong to seek ways out of the area it is pumped into. The idea that billioins of tax payer dollars should go into a project lie this is possibly more wasteful than windmills. And that is completely wasteful.

May 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

CO2 injection has been used by the oil industry in Enhanced Oil Recovery projects for many decades. For some insights into the complexities and economics see this particular study.

May 21, 2014 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr Norman Page

Maybe we should ship evil CO2 to venus?
We know it has NO effect on that atmosphere
See harry dale huffmann's bo envelope calculation.

Giant rockets that in a 2nd generation could be
Transformed to harbour champagne leftists
I shall also iterate and note that men are from mars ,women tho for penus

May 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBalthasard

Systems for pure oxygen have to be very clean and any oils or greases will cause a fire. I'd like to know how successful they have been on running an oil lubricated turbine on oxygen.

May 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMD

Euan Mearns at 10 46 am has it absolutely correct.

Injecting gas without injecting it into an oil field with a view to enhancing oil recovery is truly just burning money. Not only that, it consumes energy to put it down there, which in turn has an emissions effect (if that concerns you in any way)

May 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

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