LibLink… Chris Davies: It’s time to kick-start carbon capture

In the Huffington Post, Chris Davies MEP highlights the lack of progress on carbon capture, despite early enthusiasm and promises of funding for trial projects.

Yet now, there is little to show for the initial enthusiasm. Thirteen significant projects applied for the first phase of funding, but most could not meet the strict and inflexible requirements. In the second phase only one project, the ‘White Rose’ in the UK, is in the running for €300m support, Even so the odds are against it securing the necessary government commitment within the given deadline. Of a further €1 billion of EU funding made available in 2009, most remains unspent and will not be reallocated.

This is attributed to a lack of political commitment, and the failure of a business model that depends on a high carbon price through the Emissions Trading Scheme – something that the ETS has not delivered. Why isn’t carbon capture treated like renewables and given a direct subsidy for each unit of electricity? Why isn’t it treated like nuclear and given some public underwriting for the long term storage of its waste? I guess because it doesn’t have the enthusiastic advocates of either.

So Chris is advocating a new approach to carbon capture, here and in the European Parliament, to develop a business model that will allow some projects to go ahead. While I have my doubts about carbon capture we should certainly try it. Meanwhile George Osborne is making noises against existing support for low carbon generation.

If Europe is to achieve its low carbon goals at least cost then CCS has a major role to play. Tens of thousands of jobs can be created along the way. But the hopes will not be realised unless the EU raises its sights and increases its ambitions.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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19 Comments

  • jenny barnes 30th Sep '13 - 9:17am

    CCS has never been made to work at industrial scale and takes 25% of the power produced to cool and liquefy the exhaust gas. Which means you’re producing 33% more Co2 for the same output power. It has to be stored for thousands of years in wells that probably fail after 20.
    Let’s go for a proper, industrial scale renewable technology, concentrated solar in hot sunny places & HVDC grids. instead.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '13 - 10:41am

    My heart sinks as I read another article from one of our MEPs sounding more like a big business lobbyist than a representative of the people. No wonder Euroscepticism is rife.

    Not a single negative of the technique mentioned in the article, thankfully Jenny Barnes has jumped in to highlight some.

  • I agree Joe, but the fact is that the Environmentalists oppose CCS because it might allow society to “continue behaving as before” and the industry opposes it because it adds costs. Therefore, like the Severn Barrage and a number of other eminently sensible projects that would save vast amounts of CO2 emissions, it is dead in the water because it has no friends. Instead we will have more nuclear power stations. Ho hum.

  • Nonconormistradical 30th Sep '13 - 11:31am
  • Peter Davies 30th Sep '13 - 12:50pm

    OK how about a pilot project. When someone demonstrates that they have stored CO2 for a million years without leakage, we should think about going into full-scale production.

  • jenny barnes 30th Sep '13 - 1:49pm

    I think 1 million years is too pessimistic. When we stop adding any CO2 at all to the atmosphere (thinks, cars, aircraft, shipping..) the oceans will cool down to their normal temperature in a thousand years or so.
    So : CCS plan: Demonstrate CO2 storage for 1,000 years. Meanwhile, build renewable energy systems. If CCS works after 1,000 years, consider implementation.

  • What silly comments. Those geological formations stored CH4 for a hundred million years and more. There is no reason tot suspect they wont store the similarly sized CO2 molecule for the same amount of time.

  • Peter Davies 30th Sep '13 - 3:05pm

    and yet despite many processes (including those that produce methane) releasing CO2 underground, it is never found naturally in large pockets.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '13 - 3:10pm

    Joe, I agree there was an element of unfairness in my comment, but I think I also have a point about legislators failing to inform the public of the extent of the risks and the downfalls of policies. The public have a right to know about these things – not just the benefits. I am not just nitpicking, it’s not just a bit wrong, it’s a lot wrong!

    If anyone wants to take it up with me I would say to them imagine being sold an investment but not being told the full extent of the risks. It is exactly the same thing, except for the legal treatment.

  • jenny barnes 30th Sep '13 - 3:51pm

    There is no reason tot suspect they wont store the similarly sized CO2 molecule for the same amount of time.

    The reservoir might hold it, but well containment failure is frequent. I wonder if you can remember a recent incident in the Gulf of Mexico? Deepwater Horizon ring any bells?

  • ^ LOL. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about, so it would have been wise to do an internet search for something like “natural underground CO2 accumulations” before posting such a rash comment. You’ll find millions of hits, including many published papers with geologists discussing the phenomenon. CO2 is often found underground in large pockets.

  • Previous comment was for Peter Davies.

  • @Jenny. I dont think anyone is suggesting that we should build CO2 sequestration with the well-heads deliberately built 1000m deep offshore. That would be rather silly.

  • Any article arguing for ‘carbon’ capture needs to explain or give full reference to a plausible and effective mechanism, otherwise such articles are worthless and actually very damaging to the environment in that they perpetuate the myth that a workable technique is just round the corner.

  • @M Boy “Environmentalists oppose CCS because it might allow society to “continue behaving as before” and the industry opposes it because it adds costs. Therefore, like the Severn Barrage and a number of other eminently sensible projects that would save vast amounts of CO2 emissions, it is dead in the water because it has no friends”

    Totally agree. What saddens me is the environmentalists. While renewables remain so expensive and we lack the technology to move to a carbon free energy mix we still need fossil fuels. So why oppose the one thing that could substantially reduce the carbon impact of fossil fuels?

    Perhaps the answer is a much higher carbon price, forcing generators to try CCS out.

  • jenny barnes 1st Oct '13 - 9:08am

    I mentioned Deepwater Horizon as a particularly spectacular example of well containment failure. Typical MBTF for well containment failure, whether it’s 0 or 1000m deep, is around 20 years.
    Let’s suppose we build one of these things. We’re (UK)running around 12GW of coal fired now (bit more, but I want to make the sum easy) So to replace that with CCS Coal we need to build 16 GW (because of the 25% required for cooling etc)
    That 16 GW consumes 400 *16 tonnes of coal / hour, and produces roughly 3 times that much CO2 ( a bit more, because O is 16 and C is 14) Result : 19 kilotonnes of CO2 per hour. In 20 years… a bit over 3 Gigatonnes. Now. If containment fails at that point, 3 Gigatonnes of CO2 would be released; while if we just do nothing, it’s only just over 2.
    So CCS likely INCREASES the CO2 output, rather than decreasing it. It’s worse than nuclear waste – most nuclear waste is no problem in 1,000 years.

  • Yorkshire Guidon 1st Oct '13 - 9:43am

    I assume if this project was in the South-east and not Yorkshire it would have secured Government funding by now.

  • David Allen 1st Oct '13 - 12:35pm

    “Typical MBTF for well containment failure, whether it’s 0 or 1000m deep, is around 20 years.”

    If true, and if impossible to improve upon, that kills CCS stone dead. Could a technically knowledgeable CCS supporter please comment?

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