Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Fiddle me this - Josh 346 | Main | Malaria maths »

The fading dream of CCS 

The pretence that carbon capture and storage can ever be a viable technology is looking increasingly hard to maintain, with the news that Drax will pull out of the White Rose CCS project in Yorkshire once the current phase is complete.

It's amusing to recall Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph just three weeks ago, telling us that the UK had "hit the jackpot" on the CCS front:

Britain is poised to take the lead in Europe, approving two CCS projects later this year with a £1bn grant. One will be a retro-fit on SSE's gas-fired plant at Peterhead in Scotland. The CO2 will be sent through the Golden Eye pipeline to storage sites in deep rock formations below the North Sea.

The other will be Drax's White Rose plant in Yorkshire, a purpose-built 448 MW "oxyfuel" plant for coal. With biomass, it promises negative carbon emissions.

Oh dear.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (34)

I am sure I have said this before so I apologise in advance. I recall reading a CCS paper either online or in a mag somewhere, all about CCS. The more I read the more it seemed familiar, referring to storing it in sealed steel containers filled with concrete, then storing those in turn in huge caverns, some natural, some constructed for the purpose. Eventually curiosity got the better of me, & I rummaged around some old New Civil Engineer journals going back a few years (sad I know), & lo & behold, I found what I was looking for, the edition on nuclear energy, & the storage of the waste underground. All our greenalist friends had done was all but remove the term "nuclear waste" & substitute it for "carbon-dioxide", plus a few relevant sentences altered to suit the meme! The only rational method of CCS is the environment, but this is seasonal in both hemispheres, more so in the north than the south.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

" promises negative carbon emissions" Yeah right.

Perpetual motion technology will be available in 10 years time, with enough investment in exotic spin doctors in luxurious holiday locations.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Trees are the technology to give negative carbon emissions.

Freeman Dyson worked this out decades ago.

So did I and the latest OCS-2 data show a massive CO2 sink over the Siberian forests, also the cooling N. Atlantic.

Maximum [CO2] ~450 ppm in 25 years or so in the depth of the new LIA.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

In enviro-speak, if they were talking about fracking and not CCS then the site of the fluid injection would no longer merely be a hole in the ground, but would become described as a "geological trauma".

The Golden Eye project is of course just a golden shower. To howls of green anguish, Vattenfall and several other large industrial companies recently pulled out of the equally doomed German carbon-capture project.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

CCS might be a dream for some, but a nightmare for those determined to shut down all coal-fired power stations, and destroy the large multinationals involved in energy and carbon intensive activities, so maybe this news should be regarded as a win-win outcome.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Sanity is gradually returning to energy policy. But it will be years before the tide is finally turned. In the meantime, get your generator, candles and woodburner.

Let's see:

Wind power: unreliable, intermittent, unaffordable, asynchronous, not despatachble.
Solar power: unreliable, intermittent, unaffordable, asynchronous, not despatachble.
Biomass: wasteful, unaffordable.
CCS: energy inefficient, dangerous, unaffordable.

Coal: cheap, reliable, synchronous, baseload.
Gas: cheap, reliable, synchronous, load follow.
Nuclear: cheap if done properly, reliable, synchronous, baseload.
Pumped hydro: cheap, reliable, peakload.
Fracking: cheap, homegrown, energy security.

The future is obvious.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:38 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The Grauniad should perhaps shoulder some of the blame. It wrote a fawning article about Canada's Boundary Dam project, opining it as the first commercial-scale CCS plant and proof that coal-burning is compatible with cutting emissions.

Sadly, their article misled by omission on a number of issues.

1. The initial project cost was $C 1.24 billion, but over-run was >20% - the plant having a total cost ~$C 1.5 billion.

2. The plant had to be derated by 20%, from 139 MW to 110 MW.

3. The process incurs a large parasitic load associated with solvent regeneration and to run additional emission control components as well as associated pumps and other equipment. This reduces effective 'efficiency' of fuel input vs useful output to grid.

Sep 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"Sanity is gradually returning to energy policy." Phillip Bratby

Come, come now. No call for unsupported optimism. LOL.

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Drax's White Rose plant in Yorkshire

Drax's White Elephant plant to everyone else.

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

AEP has lost the plot recently. His CCS article was indeed plain daft, as was his latest offering earlier this week. He should try his luck at the Guardian, which is much more up his hysteria street.

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

You would have thought a large fizzy drink company could find a way of temporarily storing CO2 from power stations, in plastic bottles.

At the moment, they make CO2, simply to store it temporarily in plastic bottles.

Instead of revising the contents to increase sales, with 'Diet' 'Low Cal' 'New' or 'Traditional' stated on the label, why not make 'Reduced CO2 Emissions' a desirable feature? Many spouses would sleep better.

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Phillip Bratby

Tidal: Predictably unreliable, intermittent, unaffordable

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Slightly off topic:

Nobody has suggested what is a fairly obvious explanation for the pause in CO2 level growth ^.^

We have noted the greening of the Sahel desert but not the fact that a new carbon sink was born. The Earth responds to extra CO2 by creating new sinks in various ways. It could be that the Earth has already adjusted to the new levels of CO2 and their growth rate.

Sep 25, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterDung

(C)O(2 sequestration) dear. Why are we wasting ANY money on it? The normally sanctimonious Norwegians, who at least have money to burn gave up a long time ago.

Sep 25, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I wonder if at some point it would make a certain kind of sense to use coal to produce town gas for CCGT power stations, feedstock chemicals for industry and coke to perpetuate the town gas production. Technically, coal fired power emissions would be zero. You could even have a nod to CCS by chucking some of the coke into a hole.

Sep 25, 2015 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Dung, the neo-Malthusians and enviro anti-capitalists love to take a simple exponential growth model of population increase and extrapolate it into the future to arrive at calamity. They are less keen to admit to themselves that many natural carbon sinks, by virtue of being living organisms, are also capable of exponential growth. Both are oversimplifications of course, but internal self-consistency is the first prerequisite for a good model.

Sep 25, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Phillip Bratty
Sanity is gradually returning to energy policy

And the greens are squealing like stuck pigs.
Seems the more bizarre facets of Cameron's education were not entirely wasted.

Sep 25, 2015 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

michael hart, please note that exponential curves have now evolved into superexponential curves. This has been decreed as part of greenhype speak by David Appell on this blog, quite recently, who by his own admission knows more than anybody else.

Sep 25, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Me and my green friends (who demand 1200ppm) loves you.

Sep 25, 2015 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Phillip Bratby, we need to hear more about Unreliable power supplies.

The Government are under fire for reducing financial support to the Unreliable producers of Unreliable power.

Producers offer a 100% no-money-back guarantee over their Unreliability, and can see no reason why anybody should doubt their ability to take money and provide nothing. It is a perfect financial plan, that provides them with all their needs, totally without risk.

Sep 25, 2015 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Remember the DECC Blog on CCS A momentous day for CCS Ashley Ibbett, 3 October 2014 beginning "I am here at the Boundary Dam coal fired power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, witnessing the historic moment"
- Ashley Ibbett first answered our follow-up questions but then ran away.

Some highlights :
" Our own White Rose and Peterhead projects, which are part of the Government’s £1bn commercialisation programme, are making good progress"
\\Many of you have commented on cost.... The report concluded that: “UK gas and coal power stations equipped with carbon capture, transport and storage have clear potential to be cost competitive with other forms of low-carbon power generation, delivering electricity at a levelised cost approaching £100/MWh by the early 2020s, and at a cost significantly below £100/MWh soon thereafter.// {haha coalpower still costs about £40/MWh}

Popping 'DECC CCS' into the Bishop-hill searchbox provides other interesting results

BTW see how the DECC Blog post on White Rose is now headed with a bold disclaimer

This news article was published under the
2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Sep 25, 2015 at 2:51 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Hey FT had this 2 weeks ago :Carbon capture: Miracle machine or white elephant? September 9th

Drax shareprice peaked at 820p Jan 2014, it's declined ever since to 240p last week it stands little changed at 243p

Sep 25, 2015 at 3:00 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


API2 coal is now below 55 $/tonne (cif NWE for 6,000kcal/kg quality, about 7MWh/tonne GCV). That's under 8$/MWh GCV, or in an old inefficient station (33.3% efficiency), under 24 $/MWh or under 16 £/MWh generated. Of course, green taxes and the carbon floor price rather change the equation: other costs for the plant are relatively trivial.

Sep 25, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Anybody 'playing' around with CCS ought to have big signs in each office: "REMEMBER LAKE NYOS"! But then, wiyh modern technology, nothing can go wrong .. go wrong .. go wrong.

Sep 25, 2015 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRuss Wood

Once again the skepticism of those denigrated by the consensus has been proven to be justified.
CCS joins wind power, Arctic ice, Tibetan glaciers, increased hurricane activity, the pause, and so much more on the long and growing list of failed alarmist positions.

Sep 25, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Reality bites.

Sep 25, 2015 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&twisted

"Nobody has suggested what is a fairly obvious explanation for the pause in CO2 level growth"

An immense bloom of Azolla laying around somewhere, evidently not in Yorkshire.

Sep 25, 2015 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


On the plane yesterday I noticed that the civil servant type in the next seat was reading The Age, which contained an article by AEP. He may be looking for an opening in The Guardian Australian version.

For your information The Age is published in Melbourne and has long been known as The most Left of all major? papers.
It is part of the Fairfax group which publishes for the "inner city latte crowd" a.k.a. ABC listeners. Fairfax is doing its bit for the cause by using less and less paper as their readership declines.

Sep 25, 2015 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

"...The future is obvious." --Phillip Bratby

Not to a Marxist or anyone who thinks faith trumps facts.

Sep 25, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The idea that you can dig coal out of the ground, burn it in a power station to make electricity, then get the whole lot back in the ground and have surplus energy afterwards is bonkers.

Sep 25, 2015 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Caroline Lucas was on Radio 2 this afternoon, being given unchallenged airtime by the BBC to berate Government policy on reining back the Green money scams.

I hope driving under the influence of schadenfreude is not an offence.

Sep 26, 2015 at 1:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Gareth; there are at least a dozen large coal-to-gas/coal-to-liquids projects under way in China with products as you suggest - save burying the coke, of course!
The Chinese are also at the forefront of coal-fired technology, getting over 50% efficiency with UltraSuperCritical processes which they are exporting around the world.

Sep 26, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Joe Public: you may also have mentioned that the much-hyped Boundary Damn project also has a tied customer for the CO2 - they did not incur the cost of "capturing" it. It is not often mentioned but another "dirty secret" of CCS is the contamination into the atmosphere of the amine based absorbent. Losses are very high compared with other CO2 absorption processes (ammonia based fertilisers, for example) because of the great volumes of nitrogen that have to pass through the processes. Amines, in general, are rather obnoxious.

Sep 26, 2015 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Hopefully the CCS plants were recyclable, if they weren't sustainable or renewable. White elephants consume money, not CO2.

Sep 26, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>