Carbon Capture and Storage: Energy Costs Revisited

This is a slightly edited repeat of a post by Rembrandt from 2007, since the situation really hasn't changed much.- Gail

Capturing carbon dioxide from coal (and gas) fired electricity plants, and subsequently transporting the carbon dioxide from the plant and storing it underground in (abandoned) oil/gas fields, in other geological formations or on the ocean floor, seem like an excellent solution for continued fossil fuel use in the coming decades. In fact the European Union wants to have 12 large CO2 capture and storage demonstration projects in place by 2015, requiring an investment of 5 billion euro. The expectation is that this development will cause significant cost reductions, making the technology affordable by 2020. There are two large drawbacks, however:

  • The process is quite energy intensive, and thus will use up coal supplies faster.
  • The process is quite expensive, and can be expected to continue to be quite expensive, even as experience is gained in the process.

In this post, I will discuss the extra energy cost of the process and quantify its expected impact on future coal depletion. I will discuss the economics in another post in the near future.

A short overview of carbon capture and storage

There are three approaches to creating a nearly pure stream of carbon dioxide at the power plant for storage:

Post combustion, in which the mixture of CO2 and flue gases after combustion is separated by using a liquid solvent.

Pre combustion, where the fuel is processed prior to combustion resulting in a mixture of mainly CO2 and hydrogen. Both gas streams are subsequently separated, so that the hydrogen can be combusted for electricity production and the CO2 for storage.

Oxyfuel combustion, using pure oxygen instead of air when combusting resulting in flue gas that contains mainly water vapour and CO2. Both streams can easily be separated and treated further if necessary.

All three processes have already been applied in several industries, on smaller scales, but not for storage purposes. No attempt has been made to date to capture CO2 at large power plants. The choice for the system to be used is highly dependent on the type of power plant. For instance, in a gasification coal power plant, pre combustion already occurs to a significant extent, so this option is much cheaper for such a plant. Most coal power plants built so far do not rely on gasification. For these plants, post combustion is the best option.

Transport of the CO2 can be done either by pipeline or by ship to a preferred storage site. Quite a number of depleted oil and gas fields, saline formations (porous reservoir rocks saturated with brackish water or brine) and possibly coal seams are well suited for storage. In addition, carbon dioxide injection into mature oil fields can provide enhanced oil recovery by a process called miscible gas flood.

There are approximately one hundred carbon storage demonstration projects in various scales running at the moment. Of these, only three are of the scale to be somewhat representative for future large scale storage systems of a large power plant. These are

(1) Weyburn in Canada, is an enhanced oil recovery project. There, 3000 to 5000 tons of carbon dioxide have been injected since 2000 in the Weyburn oilfield on a daily basis to produce more oil.

(2) Sleipner in Norway, a saline formation 800 meters below sealevel. 3000 tons of carbon dioxide per day have been injected from the nearby Sleipner West natural gas field since 1996, because of the strict Norwegian carbon dioxide emission taxes of 45 euros per ton of emitted CO2, making it cheaper to inject than to emit.

(3) Salah in Algeria, where 3000 to 4000 tons of carbon dioxide have been re-injected per day the In Salah gas field since 2004.

For comparison, a coal power plant of 800 megawatts emits around 13700 tons of carbon dioxide per day.

The energy costs of carbon capture

Creating a nearly pure carbon dioxide stream at a power plant is unfortunately quite energy intensive. The energy costs are the result of several different processes: Firstly, the added heat needed to create temperatures of 100 to 140 degrees celsius to regenerate the solvent that captures the CO2 out of the flue gas/CO2 stream. Secondly the energy to create steam that acts as a stripping gas to remove the CO2 from the solvent. Thirdly the electricity to operate the flue gas fan and pump the CO2 to its destination were it can be compressed. Fourthly the energy costs of compression of the CO2 to make it transportable towards its final destination where it can be stored.

Overall such processes raise the energy costs to produce the same amount of electricity in a cleaner way by 24-40% for new (supercritical) conventional coal plants using the post combustion approach and by 14% to 25% for coal based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) systems using pre combustion. Nearly all coal plants today are conventional. IGCC plants are expected to be more efficient, but are more costly to build.

Chart 1 - Additional energy costs of carbon capture for different electricity plants, source: IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage.

To look at the expected impact of wide scale application of CO2 capture and storage, the additional energy costs of one “carbon wedge” is taken. The carbon wedge is a concept from the University of Princeton, telling us that if we want to stop the current growth path of CO2 emissions, we need to introduce technologies that can counter growth of annual emissions from 7 Gigatons now to 14 Gigatons by 2055. If CO2 capture and storage would count for 1 Giga ton of avoided annual emissions by 2055 or one “wedge,” this technology needs to be implemented at approximately 855 coal power plants of 1000 megawatts in the coming decades.

This figure of 855 coal plants was derived by the following calculation: A 1000 megawatt coal power plant emits 5.5 Megatons of carbon dioxide per year. Converting this to carbon emissions (from CO2 to C) results in 1.37 Megatons of carbon per year. CO2 capture and storage efficiency is approximately 85%, so per power plant around 1.17 Megatons of carbon emissions per year would be reduced. Dividing 1 Gigatons of emissions by 1.17 Megatons gives 855 coal power plants.

An average 1000 megawatt coal power plant consumes 2,000,000 tons of oil equivalent fuel per year. Assuming that 25% more fuel would be needed, the additional fuel would come down to 425 million tons of fuel in oil equivalents per year to implement CO2 storage and capture at 855 coal power plants of 1000 megawatts. In 2006 coal consumption was 3090 million tons of oil equivalent per year according to the BP Statistical Review.

The effects of increased energy costs on coal depletion

If we reflect the impact of the additional 425 million tons on coal production forecasts, the effects on available energy from coal become clearer. For this I have taken the coal production scenario from the German Energy Watch Group (pdf), released a few months ago. In this scenario peak coal production is expected around 2020-2030 with at slow declining slope. When carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is added the peak in energy provided shifts forward five years to 2015-2025. Furthermore the decline is much faster after the peak. The effect on more optimistic coal production scenarios would be different, because CCS would be introduced earlier before the peak that is expected later. That implies that the net energy peak would occur relatively earlier but the net energy slope after the peak will be less sharp.

Chart 2 - Coal Production Scenario with energy input costs for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS). Source of Production scenario: Energy Watch Group (PDF).

Thanks a lot for this post

CCS is really a typical "bad good idea", for each 3 moutain tops blown up, blowing up a fourth one in order to call the energy from the first three clean ? Really gross, and simply a scandal.

Moreover we are talking tons and heavy industry here, no Moore law to be expected.

If CCS gets implemented, it will be a perfect example of a "technological easter island statue"

And without going into GW controversy, CO2 isn't a polluant per se, and for sure the solution is in efficiency and burning less, consuming 25% more to maintain BAU ? Outrageous ...

I'll second the thanks for this post.

I quite like the idea for digging up every 12 tons of coal, burning it, and putting the 44 tons of carbon dioxide back in the hole.

I'm wondering how much cheaper it would be instead, since coal is so inexpensive, to just bury coal itself? If we used the holes and shafts that coal mining leaves in the ground, we'd save lots of costs there too.

I think you're on to something. In theory, it would even work if we pushed it one more step back. We could call it "in situ non-gasification" or something.

Just Leave it in the Effing Ground.


Hydrogen sulfide isn't a pollutant either, in fact it is essential to life (nice article in Scientific American, March 2010). But the problem is concentration. The debate about whether CO2 is or is not a pollutant is a ridiculous waste of time.

It is incredible what nuclear phobia has produced. These idiots will spend the price equivalent of a new nuclear plant on some pointless demonstration projects. Are coal power plants in need of saving like wales? Also, there is way too much optimism about being able to plug CO2 inside the old oil/gas reservoir formations. Ironic how the nuclear waste phobes and their concern about saddling future generations with this "horror" (which is actually fuel for fast neutron breeders) don't seem to mind saddling future generations with a CO2 climate bomb. Anyway, I don't see tens of thousands of kilometers of CO2 pipelines being built to carry the gas from urban center power plants to remote oil extraction sites.

"Are coal power plants in need of saving like wales?"

"Anyway, I don't see tens of thousands of kilometers of CO2 pipelines being built to carry the gas from urban center power plants to remote oil extraction sites."

Exactly, building a whole infrastructure to push the "waste" under the carpet instead of investing in real alternatives, nuclear included, and efficiency measures, is just plain irrational

Thanks for the post.

that 25% more fuel would be needed....

or each 3 moutain tops blown up, blowing up a fourth one......

I couldn't work it out - but I think these amounts need to be grossed up. ie if the process consumes 1/4 of the coal, then you need 1/3 more coal to produce the same output.

Also it looks more like 1/3 and not 1/4. Gasification plants are 15%-25%, whereas most plants are "conventional" where 25% - 40% more coal is needed. If that is the case and it is 1/3; then fully 1/2 as much more coal is needed just to stand still. 50% more coal means 50% more mines/mining, distribution networks, handling equipment etc etc. Add in the impact of volumes where the CO2 from just 60% of US coal plants is equal to the volume of gasoline used in the US and the whole thing is just a joke. Scale, as always, is the party crashing yob that spoils everything.

It is complete and utter BS and will never happen (at least not on any meaningful scale), especially when you factor in the economic impacts of PO. It is just politics.

Have the Chinese talked about the introduction of CCS? Concidering the amount of coal they use that would be a fairly large carbon wedge created if it was implimented nationwide.

Have the Chinese talked about the introduction of CCS?

I don't have numbers or links, but I think they have a pretty aggressive program.

Gao Guangsheng, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's department of climate change, said ahead of the Copenhagen talks in December last year that CCS's expensive installation and running costs represented a "fatal weakness".

Looks like a definite 'Use to'. If Reuters is correct, some Chinese officials have concerns that the increased infrastructure for CCS will in its self lead to more CO2 emissions. They have a point but nearly all political leaders, not just the Chinese, are all hell bent on creating more energy for a consumeristic beast that never satisfied.
Do I believe in Climate Change - yes. But CO2 is just symptom of a growth culture that can't be satiated?

CCS is a form of Hopium, a bit more crack to smoke rather they take a fundamental look at how humans function in this world.

"Fatal weakness" . . . that is what I worry about. The added cost of CCS seems to be too high for it to be practical at all. Perhaps it would be useful if you built the coal plant right next to an old oil field that could really use the CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery. But unless you find more win-win situations like that, I just can't see CCS catching on. :-/

Like a lot of other green ideas, CCS makes sense, only when it makes sense. In my opinion, that is where there is a beneficial use for the CO2, as in the enhanced oil recovery operations.

Doing large scale injection is risky - it can still work it's way to the surface.

But for the 25% increase in energy to do it (if there is no side benefit like EOR), we are simply better off to find 25% decrease in energy use, and then the coal will last 50% longer.
Of course, the 25% decrease in energy would make a lot of coal plants redundant, so the CO2 would decrease anyway.

Industrial type CCS may yet be a piece of engineering mastery, but that doesn't mean it is worth doing. The best way to sequester coal sourced carbon is to simply leave the coal in the ground!

the strict Norwegian carbon dioxide emission taxes of 45 euros per ton of emitted CO2

Good. We are on the way to a carbon tax and eventual Capital punishment for burning carbon..

For the more squeamish amongst us, the result of not taking extreme measure is to condemn millions to starvation. This is a fate we may not avoid, in any case.
The choice is between evil and worse evil.
Such a choice may be viewed as a good thing, in light of the alternative.

On a lighter note I see in the Scientific American (March 2010 pp 9) that basalt can be turned into calcium carbonate. The idea is to use the Decan Traps to store CO2.
Is there any merit in this idea, assuming we will have the spare wealth to accomplish this trifling task?
I did wonder what was the half-life of CO2.

Well, enough gaity.

Sorry but considering the investments involved, and the fact that it is nothing but a stop gap, the corresponding money would certainly better be put somewhere else (efficiency, insulation, public transport etc), with also less CO2 emission at the end for some lasting investment.

Again, for me CCS is really a technological (and technocratic) Easter Island statue : almost no trees ? Ok let's use the remaining ones to build bigger statues.
Here it is : We burn plenty of precious limited stuff and it gets messy ? Ok let's burn even more and more quickly by building a big machinery to push the smoke under the carpet ...

CO2 plus silicate rocks makes carbonate rocks plus silicon dioxide. Until the carbonates get sunducted deep underground and reach several hundred degrees C it will stay there. Then the process reverses. This is where the CO2 emitted by volcanoes comes from. The issue isn't one of scientific feasibility, but of scale. We would need to converts many cubic kilometers of rock per year.

Excuse me if I'm mistaken or if I have oversimplified, but:

The atomic mass of carbon in 12, and oxygen 16, which gives a molecular mass of CO2 of about 44. So to go from CO2 to C you would multiply the mass (5.5Mt here) by 12/44 = 0.27 which leads to 1.5 Mt of carbon (not 1.27 Mt).

This would lead to ~785 CCS equipped coal-fired power stations (same ballpark).

I was in the SPE conference in NOLA October 09, I listened a paper presentation very interesting about sequestration of CO2.
I take the “risk” to give you the reference and the abstract. The full paper is available e mailing me….or through the
SPE 124430 Sequestering Carbon Dioxide in a Closed Underground Volume
M.J. Economides/University of Houston, C.A. Ehlig-Economides/Texas A&M University
The capture and subsequent geologic sequestration of CO2 has been central to plans for managing CO2 produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. The magnitude of the task is overwhelming in both physical needs and cost, and it entails several components including capture, gathering and injection. The rate of injection per well and the cumulative volume of injection in a particular geologic formation are critical elements of the process.
Published reports on the potential for sequestration fail to address the necessity of storing CO2 in a closed system. Our calculations suggest that the volume of liquid or supercritical CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1% of pore space. This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions.
Material balance modeling shows that CO2 injection in the liquid stage (larger mass) obeys an analog of the single-phase, liquid material balance, long-established in the petroleum industry for forecasting undersaturated oil recovery. The total volume that can be stored is a function of the initial reservoir pressure, the fracturing pressure of the formation or an adjoining layer, and CO2 and water compressibility and mobility values.
Further, published injection rates, based on displacement mechanisms assuming open aquifer conditions are totally erroneous because they fail to reconcile the fundamental difference between steady state, where the injection rate is constant, and pseudo-steady state where the injection rate will undergo exponential decline if the injection pressure exceeds an allowable value. A limited aquifer indicates a far larger number of required injection wells for a given mass of CO2 to be sequestered and/or a far larger reservoir volume than the former.

I read the paper by Economides. The basis for his calculations is that no wells are drilled to remove the ground water displaced by the stored carbon dioxide "carbon dioxide sequestration is not generally envisioned to be associated with any production of underground fluids,"

His paper is proof if proof were needed that relief wells will be required for many geological structures. Others have discussed the issues that these relief wells might raise. See

When atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration stops rising the oceans will continue to absorb only 6% of today's emissions so no matter how much energy we save or how many windmills we build if we burn more carbon than that we need to capture it to stop global warming. Refer

It is only fair that all those (and only those) who burn fossil fuel should contribute to the cost of capturing the carbon dioxide produced. My proposal would be that fuel producers would place contracts for the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide equivalent to an increasing proportion of the carbon in the fuel they produce. Inevitably the cost would be passed on to the consumer but if capture cost say $75/tonne of carbon dioxide, this would add only $32/barrel of oil, which is modest compared to price movements in recent years.

Raising the cost of using fossil fuel would drive energy saving, renewables and nuclear in just the same way as a tax or a cap but without the intractable problems of agreeing emission limits for every sovereign nation. See my article at

Wouldn't using oxygen enhanced combustion generate additional emissions of NOx? The volume of pollutant is much smaller than the CO2 stream, sure, but I imagine if the idea is to generate little else besides CO2 and H2O, and removing or treating other contaminants is important (e.g. sulfur) then this could possibly cause some problems too, and even the most advanced and efficient selective catalytic reduction systems are only around 80% effective at NOx removal.

Of course there are still the larger concerns of how many suitable sites even exist for CCS or what it will take to transmit power from those sites to demand centers. Clearly the net energy from CCS coal is going to be much lower than coal today and the plants will be far more expensive than existing coal plants as well. Do these factors, combined with coal peaking/depletion of course, not negate the primary advantage of using coal today (i.e., low fuel cost)?

Let's say that we managed to permanently capture all of the CO2 produced by burning all of our remaining hydrocarbons. Remember we are also capturing O2 in the process and it will never be available to us in the future. The Greenies are already saying that the world has less oxygen and breathing will be more difficult in the future.

This climate change hoax is the new astrology and our schools have adopted it as the new state new religion.

PE Guy, you might want to check your maths there on the oxygen depletion thing.

It's not "my" math it's the Chicken Little crowd's math.

I have seen this wonderful straw man promoted by some other less numerate trolls.

Global CO2 concentration is measured in parts per million. Global oxygen is measured in parts per thousand. 3 orders of magnitude difference. Life on earth is and has been adaptable to a range of oxygen contents from zero in ancient pre history to about 22 percent.
Much higher than that and it gets dangerous.

I'm happy to be corrected by competent biologists.

Astro-turfer alert!!

Life on earth is and has been adaptable to a range of oxygen contents from zero in ancient pre history to about 22 percent.
Much higher than that and it gets dangerous.

Why, because the giant insects may re-evolve?

The Paleozoic period, about 300 million years ago, was a time of huge and abundant plant life and rather large insects -- dragonflies had two-and-a-half-foot wing spans, for example. The air’s oxygen content was 35% during this period, compared to the 21% we breathe now, Kaiser said.

This required less effort for respiration and allowed arthropods to grow larger with the up to 2.6 metres long centipede Arthropleura.

Wouldn't using oxygen enhanced combustion generate additional emissions of NOx?

Since the goal is easy separation post-combustion of the CO2 and other combustion products, the input needs to be nearly pure Oxygen, i.e. not adding Oxygen to air, but using nearly pure O2 as the oxydate. Then there wouldn't much N2 to produce the NOx. I don't know they intend to handle the high temperatures that would entail, perhaps some multistage combustion where the heat is removed before it can get too high? Nor, do I know the cost of getting the Oxygen.

Well, I'm not an expert, but according to Wikipedia at least, the primary source of nitrogen in NOx emissions from coal is the fuel itself rather than process air:

Thermal NOx formation, which is highly temperature dependent, is recognized as the most relevant source when combusting natural gas. Fuel NOx tends to dominate during the combustion of fuels, such as coal, which have a significant nitrogen content, particularly when burned in combustors designed to minimise thermal NOx.

The time honoured (and very effective) way to moderate the peak combustion temperatures is by adding steam to the process. This already exists in the form of Steam Injected Gas Turbines (STIG), which are a way to get half the benefits of combined cycle at a tenth of the cost. For oxy combustion, you would do the same - raise the steam from the exhaust waste heat, then inject into the combustion chamber.

STIG systems take the thermal efficiency of a simple GT from about 30% to 40%.



As I understand oxycombustion, the idea is to use nearly pure oxygen in PLACE of air. This eliminates or greatly decreases the NOx problem (little or no nitrogen to create the NOx). There is a big advantage to using Oxycombustion in addition to the reduction of NOx. It is that the combustion can be performed at higher temperatures and the process generally produces less carbon monoxide. Also, water and oxygen make an excellent combination since water greatly improves the heat capacity of the combustion gases which reduces temperature differentials in the flue gas. The bane of many combustion processes is too hot a centerline temperature (high NOx levels and component failure) and too low a "wall temperature" where CO levels and unburned carbon can build up. Many combustion zones have temperature differentials between walls and centerline of 600 deg. C or more. High levels of water injection (especially with O2) can reduce those differentials to 100 deg. C or less. That reduces the twin problems and allows a much higher average temperature without component failure. Oxygen makes that easier (even the oxygen can cost a fair bit). As always, it is a trade-off.

Wet combustion is a viable technology ("Combined Heat and Power") especially if the waste heat is used in an industrial process needing steam.


CSS appears to be a PR ploy. That's how I have viewed it after my initial investigation and this article confirms my opinion. CSS is not a serious solution, but a 'demonstration' project. What have they gotten out of it? A confused public who believe there is 'clean coal.' One of the industries that rivals the oil and gas empire is the media, a force that has turned into PR for BAU.

That "dirty coal" and all fossil fuels, in general, have allowed mankind to extend their lives by about 50% in the last 100 years. Our biggest problem is the lack of a future supply of these miraculous products not the burning of them.

If only we lived on an infinite planet.

I agree that it is hard to see that CCS makes much sense.

If nothing else, the cost aspect would be prohibitive. If we already have conventional coal plants built, building IGCC plants to replace them would be a huge expense. If we don't do that, the cost removing CO2 from existing plants would be quite expensive (24% - 40% add on to current costs)--would raise rates above natural gas rates (even with CCS) by some estimates.

The timeframe is a huge issue as well. We can in theory build IGCC plants, but in practice we don't have any company that really builds them -- a utility needs to get pieces from different manufacturers and put them together (at least according to one reference I found last night). Part of the timeframe is just to figure out how to build IGCC plants efficiently.

This 2009 document talks about possibly reducing European CO2 emissions by 10% by 2030. This is not exactly a big contribution--but even it is iffy for being attainable.

There are all kinds of questions about whether the CO2 that is pumped into the ground will stay under ground. If it doesn't, we are in big trouble. Gas that comes to the surface is heavier than air so tends to puddle on the ground, suffocating all those in the area. This aspect alone is likely to result in a lot of NIMBYism.

Edit: This is a link to a reference that talks about IGCC power plants. It says that there are currently two commercial-size, coal-based IGCC plants in the United States and two in Europe. The two whose size are listed seem to be small - 250MW and 262 MW. None of these sequester carbon, of course.

You assuming that carbon capture is a good thing. Even if we could do it for free there is no real proof that it would help the planet one iota.

The "scientists" who are promoting these climate catastrophe schemes are all being funded by those who want to redistribute the wealth of the major nations, their own wealth excluded of course. They are the only ones who will profit from this hoax.

Carbon Capture and Storage, for so many reasons, is an obvious technological dead end if I ever saw one.

The main purpose of promoting it is twofold: i) it allows various governments to show its people that it is doing something about global warming, and ii) it allows coal companies to continue with business as usual by holding out the prospect that 'clean coal' is just around the corner.

There is absolutely no truth to either, and the parties involved know that full well.

Academics and consulting firms love CCS because it represents another government teet to be suckled upon, in the form of endless studies and demonstration projects.The chief aim of academic R&D is not to so much to solve problems, but rather to colonize them.

"The chief aim of academic R&D is not to so much to solve problems, but rather to colonize them."

Great line - got to remember that one.

Unfortunately there is a considerable element of truth in Joule's remark.Any body who does not recognize this is niave at best.

If your local police department is opposed to the legalization of marijauna for instance, it might just be that there aren't enough robberies and breakins and murders taking place in your town to justify the size of the department and it's equipment budget.Busting kids for smoking a joint ( which anyone with even a bare minimum of real world experience knows is far safer than drinking a legal beer ) keeps the court schedule nicely backlogged,proving tho the public that the boys in blue are earning thier salariees and pensions. The criminal lawyers, the jailers, and the pushers are all happy.

I have known quite a few people over the years, and not even one person out of a hundred will put the general good of society ahead of his own paycheck.

Of course the people with brains who are actually capable of solving a serious problem want to get real results-they can capitalize on success.

But most research money does not go to such people-it goes to buying equipment, running departments, building new buildings and personal fiefdoms, secretaries and janitors salaries,staff meetings in conference centers conveniently located in interesting places to visit,health insurance policies and pensions,oh my I could go on for hours.

But even so, the occasional breakthrough pays the way, with a dividend too boot.

Right on. And I've got proof. Right here in my town the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) and their historical rivals, Communist Party of the People (Leninist-Marxist), are holding a joint study session and fundraiser with the money going directly to the "scientists" in question. It's the second year they've agreed to set aside their arguments over the rightful place of Trotsky in the International Revolutionary Struggle to raise money for the HOAX. Last year they netted $12.42 and are expecting to do better this year.

Not only that, but there's an unexplained 5 cent price increase for 'Workers Unite'. That money has got to be going somewhere...

So I assume toilforoil that you think the UN is correct and the West should be taxed by them so they can give our money to the governments of the underdeveloped nations.

No, I think the UN (which if readers aren't aware is a street gang in Vancouver, BC heavily involved in helping the DEA maintain the price of coke) should butt out. Americans already know how to transfer all their money to Chindia, AND get good plastic stuff in return. The rest of the developing world can just go on bended knee to Shanghai and ask for their own credit cards, as far as I'm concerned.

Nonetheless, keep it up. Your level of scholarship is rarely seen around here.

Toilforoil it appears that you already agree with me on some issues. The main one being that the US has squandered all of it's wealth on foreign trinkets and useless legislation.

Well, my point is that we cannot afford to throw our newly borrowed wealth away on unsubstantiated theories and snake oil.

Hey Guy, will you be my financial advisor? I've just filled in some forms, had my good credit rating confirmed, gone to the banks, cash-advanced my cards to the limit, and now I'm wealthy.

I'm trying to decide whether to invest in AbioticOil Inc or OceanAntacids Inc. What's your recommendation?

I can't tell you how lucky I feel having an advisor who really knows science as well as finance.

I suggest that you spend it all on an appendix transplant since that is one step more useful than CO2 sequestration.

Who is funding you?
I hope you are not doing this for free.

Your objections are silly.
The US pumps millions of tons of CO2 per year into the ground now without any of the disasters you fear.

The USGS has done surveys of the carbon sequestration capacity of the US and it is
vast. The US produces 5 billion tons of CO2 per year and at least 1500 billion tons of storage has been found, more than enough for the CO2 produced by an estimate 250 years of coal production (500 billion tons of CO2).

The costs are marginally are slightly higher than conventional coal and natural gas and lower than wind or solar and 10% higher than nuclear(with current low uranium prices).

EIA levelized cost of electricity

Really, you( and others) need to the recognize that we must reduce CO2 emissions while at the same time maintaining reasonable amounts of electricity, 75% of which comes from fossil fuels.

Thank you. CCS seems far out, and may never work at the scale necessary. However, I do believe people working at it are doing so in good faith, motivated by the knowledge that somehow we need to lower CO2 emissions in the face of great demand for electricity and even lower standing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

As an advocate of CCS I think the numbers used here are generally correct with the exception of the Energy Watch Group peak for coal which is doubly laughable because unfortunately the idea of thousands of coal fired CCS plants being all retrofited post-combustion in the next twenty years is just beyond belief.

I agree that post-combustion retrofit is the quickest fix to CCS but is the least efficient and given the quite ancient state of coal generating plants, I think that with some government proding IGCC-CCS would be the major replacement as IGCC-CCS have higher thermal efficency ~40% than conventional pulverized coal plants at 30%. They also can produce valuable by-products like methanol.

We also know that CCS will work with lignite as Dakota gasification uses straight lignite ore which other conventional plants require higher grade bituminous coal.

The 'penalty' of the energy inefficiency of CCS is no different than the penalty of using brown coal instead of black coal.
Germany uses lignite to make 49% of their electricity with an energy value of 60% of the US coal mix and haven't exactly collapsed.

As to the safety and practicality of carbon sequestration, it is proven for
smaller demonstartion plants. FutureGen was supposed to be a full demonstration plant but Bush delayed it in an effort to stop CC legislation of coal power plants.

The one single policy to meaningfully reduce CO2 that exists is CCS for coal plants.

CCS coal reduces CO2 emissions 85% from coal on a btu basis while switching from coal to clean natural gas in CCGT reduces emission by 66%. The amount of natural gas on earth ~7000 quads is far less than the proven coal reserves at 21000 quads.
If all the proven coal reserves were burnt to provide electricity without CCS it would be about 2400 billion tons of CO2 and the world produces 30 billion tons of CO2 per year now.

"The 'penalty' of the energy inefficiency of CCS is no different than the penalty of using brown coal instead of black coal.
Germany uses lignite to make 49% of their electricity with an energy value of 60% of the US coal mix and haven't exactly collapsed. "

This isn't really an argument, I bet the price of these coals are different too, the point is adding a system that decreases potential efficiency of a given finite input by around 25% on purpose.

A scenario could be :
1) huge money energy and material invested to build a "CCS infrastructure" up to 2020
2) by 2025 fossile fuel prices (absolute or relative) and energy cost get so high that some people say : Hey can't you just unplug this thing that is sucking up 25% efficiency ?
3) the thing gets unpluged and all the money material energy of the infrastructure totally wasted

And not to forget the additional mining related pollution going up 25% to get the process running ...

If it was 2 or 3% maybe, but there definitely is one zero or order of magnitude too many here.

This isn't really an argument, I bet the price of these coals are different too, the point is adding a system that decreases potential efficiency of a given finite input by around 25% on purpose.

The efficiency argument ignores depletion argument completely. In fact, higher efficiency increases depletion aka Jevon's paradox.

My argument shows that there is no difference in the amount of coal used for CCS and switching from bituminous to lignite as Germany had to do where the drop was not 25% but 40% in heating value.

Beyond that there's the cost issue but again we know what CCS implementation will cost; for CCS coal(2016) according to the EIA it's 129% that of coal.

Your argument seems to be shouting ,'But it can't work!'
You need to do some research to support your opinion(or better yet, get the facts).

"The efficiency argument ignores depletion argument completely."

Quite the contrary, it considers the finite aspect of these resources as essential, and the fact of burning 25% of them to paint the output green as highly questionable.

"In fact, higher efficiency increases depletion aka Jevon's paradox. "

This doesn't apply here, as Jevon's paradox is about increasing efficiency of an energy/resource use which in return ask for more energy/resource, here it does not relate to the efficiency of the output usage.

Plus for instance, I'm all in favor of a high carbon tax.
Again CCS is completely in the BAU line : "Ok the system is messy, let's add one to make it cleaner even if it consumes more in the end" (ie infinite ressources mindset)

" Your argument seems to be shouting ,'But it can't work!' "

No, I think that it could work (even if accelerating the crash), but that considering the figures it should indeed not be done, and deciding "not to do some stuff" might also be a key aspect of our time.

Quite the contrary, it considers the finite aspect of these ressources as essential, and the fact of burning 25% of them to paint the output green as highly questionable.

Electricity is produced from the most abundant and therefore cheapest fuel around,
not the most 'efficient' fuel like natural gas (or oil).

Nuclear fuel is about half as expensive as coal according to my source below but is not at all abundant. It's cheap because you can only burn it in very expensive plants, so demand is low.

What sense does it make to deplete finite 'efficient' fuel sources foe electricity?

The US uses 23 quads of natural gas of which 6 quads goes to generating electricity and 22 quads of coal almost all goes to electricity. If you switched from coal to natural gas than the US would use close to 40 quads of natural gas
but the US has gas reserves of 1200 quads including shale gas, so your way we run out of gas two decades sooner. The US has proven reserves of 4000 quads of coal.
Natural gas is 3-4 times more expensive than coal per btu.

Jevons said that as the mines were dug deeper the cost of coal would rise until
nobody would mine coal and that more efficient engines would cause people to dig more coal as a source of cheap power.

You folks taking about efficiency are causing depletion not preventing it.

“Plus for instance, I'm all in favor of a high carbon tax.
Again CCS is completely in the BAU line : "Ok the system is messy, let's add one to make it cleaner even if it consumes more in the end" (ie infinite ressources mindset)”

Remember who is controlling money collected. Politicians who seem to be a collection of liars and thieves regardless of which party they represent. Overpopulation is really the problem, so why not nip it in the bud. Enforced sterilization on a worldwide scale is the only solution. Otherwise any action is only pushing the problems down the road where they will be much worse. The human population will be much larger. The environment will be decimated. Starvation and war will be the end result. Stop the breeding of humans or just limit it as much as possible. Unfortunately we do not have a world government so there is not way to implement any uniform action worldwide………. We’re doomed.

Over population is a greater problem in the developed countries when it is looked in terms of impact.

Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology. According to this theory, in order to reduce the impact, or ecological footprint, of a growing population it is necessary either to, reduce its consumption or to increase efficiencies.

Are you serious about 'enforced sterilization'. Out of interest lineman, how has that gone down with friends, families and work colleages?

But yes, CCS is just a BAU line, that's what people will vote for.

Enforced population control is the only solution but it is not practical. I would not express myself in this regard to family or friends because I would like to keep both.

I wish Malthus was wrong. (Denial phase)
Perhaps I should read his work.
On the other hand, maybe not. I think I get the drift...

I ride a bicycle to work. Please can I stay? (bargaining phase)
What comes next?
Oh yes.

CCS can be viewed as a BAU line. But it also can be viewed as a strategy that may work moderate the worst effects of global warming even if we don't transition to carbon-free power.

The dog represents human society. The biscuits represent the additional energy and costs required to sequester CO2.

You can't do this trick easily or for long with a hungry dog.

CCS will not be done long-term. It is a semi-plausible rationalization now, but environmental concerns will go out the window as people start worrying about their own families in the near-term.

a pity, but there it is.

I agree completely.

Before too long, the pain is going to begin being felt a little farther up the socioeconomic ladder, and as time goes by, the pain is going to climb faster than the typical comfortable middle class citizen.

More and more of the middle class will find itself in lower class straits,and as that long environmental consensus.

Most of the regular commenters here apparently earn thier livings in some fashion that is at least fairly well protected from the results of economic downturns and the low earnings or unemployment that are part and parcel of such downturns.

An empty belly trumps principles.

They will sing a different tune when they are earning a few thousand less than they need to get thier teeth fixed and pay thier kids tuition and someone proposes a ten percent increase in thier electric bill even as India and China continue to increase thier coal consumption.

Whups, I see the image went away. That's the trouble with linking to the ephemera on the 'net. It was a picture of a golden retriever with 4 dog bisquits balanced on its nose. Use your imagination.

And to further support the premise, here's an excerpt from a drumbeat as of 4/25/10:

ISLAMABAD: The President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari advised the government on Saturday to use all possible power generation resources to overcome the current energy crisis in the country.

Speaking to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Presidency, Zardari said that the government must eliminate public suffering.

If they could reclaim 20% more energy by shutting down CCS, wouldn't they do it? Yes they would.


You don't necessarily need to store CO2 produced in a coal power plant.
One can also consider using wind power to produce O2 and H2 and then use pure O2 to burn coal and subsequently turn CO2 into CH4 using H2.

After all, natural gas distribution is already in place. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants are efficient and run well on natural gas and so do cars, trucks, tractors and if necessary even aircrafts:

And CO2 produced in a CHP plant can be used to boost crop production:

The plant is equipped with GE’s Jenbacher cogeneration-rich exhaust (the CO2 fertilisation process treats the engines’ CO2), allowing the gas to be recycled in the greenhouse as a special fertiliser to help boost crop production instead of venting the gas into the atmosphere.

Hmm. Well, I suppose that gets rid of the rif raf in the back of the plane.

Besides that LNG has almost the same energy density by mass as Jet fuel and an insulated LNG tank doesn't necessarily need to be pressurized since fuel is consumed at a rapid rate at relatively low temperatures:

Even if there was 1/3 less space: This will make air travel more expensive and people won't travel far distances for unimportant reasons anymore and this will further reduce unnecessary fuel use.


Somehow I doubt you ever bother to consider the costs and inefficiencies of the stuff you are posting.

If you have ever seen one of the old cartoons that used to run on saturday mornings, such as the one where a huge log goes into a Rube Goldbery sawmill and a single useful toothpick emerges from the far end out of that whole big log....well, you should get my drift.

Schemes of this sort are referred to by country people as as going around your AXX to get to your elbow.Possible , but not practical.

For instance, while CO2 IS a known plant growth accelerator,the growth increases are modest and not adequate to pay for even a minute fraction of the costs of applying it to the plants-doing so requires capture, purification, compression, transport, storage, controlled release from tanks, etc-all this AND a greenhouse-releasing the co2 out in my orchard for instance after transporting it there would be an utter waste of time and energy.

It would be dispersed by natural processes of air circulation and chemistry within a few minutes.

There are not enough greenhouses in the country, or probably even in the world, to use the co2 output of even an ordinary sized coal fired plant.

Chemical reactions that go forward spontaneously, such as hydrogen and oxygen combining into water release energy.Forcing these reactions to run backwards requires theoritically exactly the same amount of energy- on paper.

In the real world, there are huge and unavoidable inefficiencies.The actual amount of fuel that can recreated by schemes such as the ones you are posting is and always will be MUCH LESS than the energy required to drive the processes of recreation.

These kinds of schemes are never going to be a useful part of the solution, but I do fear that given the typical citizen's lack of scientific literacy,they may well become a large part of the problem.

Some would argue that such boondoogles are already a large part of the problem.

Somehow I doubt you ever bother to consider the costs and inefficiencies of the stuff you are posting.

Somehow I doubt that you are capable to read facts.

Besides the fact that a CHP plant has almost triple the efficiency of a conventional coal plant:

If CHP plants were not cost effective, the world would not have installed 100 GW of CHP power units in 2008 alone:

There are not enough greenhouses in the country, or probably even in the world, to use the co2 output of even an ordinary sized coal fired plant.

That's why it does make sense to use and produce more natural gas instead, where renewable electricity from wind, hydro, CSP, PV, geothermal etc. is not a practical option.

In the real world, there are huge and unavoidable inefficiencies.

No kidding. You are indeed not the only one who has noticed the waste going through these cooling towers in this real world:

Gladly we need less than 0.01% of the sun's energy to run our world and can afford some inefficiencies.

Oh btw aren't you the one who wants to grow crops to run cars, trucks and tractors:
If you believe this is more practical than electrifying our economy where possible and producing natural gas from coal and organic waste where electricity is not a practical option, you better start to read and believe your own quotes:

These kinds of schemes are never going to be a useful part of the solution, but I do fear that given the typical citizen's lack of scientific literacy, they may well become a large part of the problem.

Exactly this is what happens when scientific illiterates like you believe liquid fuel from crop is more effective than electrifying our economy and produce methane where electricity is not an option. And this same scientific illiteracy is also why more subsidies go into ethanol and biodiesel production than in efficiency measures etc....

"...Somehow I doubt that you are capable to read facts.

Besides the fact that a CHP plant has almost triple the efficiency of a conventional coal plant..."

this all sounds great on paper but here in the US most power plants are not located where the low grade heat can be readily used. If new power plants are built near cities that can use the heat for large buildings (does not work in suburbia as the infrastructure costs are too high) then the NIMBY's come out of the woodwork to stop them. Who wants a 1000 MW plant shadowing their house or apartment.

Yes a few process plants that can use low grade heat (meaning low temperature of 100 deg C or less) can be built next to the power plant. But most chemical processes and idustrial processes that normally use huge amounts of natural gas need much higher temperatures. The low grade heat can be converted to higher temps with a heat pump, but then you have huge infrastructure costs and higher operating expenses.

So the simple idea of CHP is not so simple after all.

Who wants a 1000 MW plant shadowing their house or apartment.

Actually CHP plants have typically less than 50 MW and some cases can even be smaller than 0.1 MW.

And the world installed almost 100 GW CHP power units in one single year, so apparently some people can live from it and others can live with it:

I have never made a comment to the best of my recollection having anything to say in the negative about combined heat and power plants in principle-quite the contrary in fact.

Day to day realities are a different matter.There is simply no concievable way to apply this technology to the existing centrally located, giant sized generating plants already in existence.But I actually didn't say anything about chp at all in my comment.Why are you bringing chp up as if I am a dimwit who knows nothing about it?

The potential customers for the low grade heat currently wasted by existing plants are too far away, and the infrastructure necessary to get the heat to them cannot be built for reasons of economics AND/OR physics.Take your pick, or take both.

Now if you happen to think that it is feasible in the present day political and economic climate to build a small electrical generating plant every couple of miles maximum where the houses and businesses are, and dig up everybodys yard to run the pipes,and have the coal trucks on the local streets every day, are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine.

I do believe that large scale chp is a coming thing here in the states,but it is coming to new construction in newly developed areas and it will serve industry, not the fickle public, for the forseeable future.

Home sized systems probably will be practical within a decade or so, at least for people who live in colder climates.

Your reply in respect to my criticism of YOUR COMMENT is respect to using CO2 as a fertilizer is a classic case of saying something totally unrelated and off the wall and pretending it is a refutation.

Pray tell, just what does "using more natural not practical" have to do with using CO2 as a fertilizer?

Yes, I AM well aware that the technologies in use today such as cooling towers waste a lot of energy.

My point is that you are advocating schemes that will waste EVEN MORE ENERGY.

A picture of a cooling tower does not refute my point in any way whatsoever.

Now as to my WANTING to raise crops to fuel farm machinery, LET US CLARIFY A LITTLE BIT.

If we DO NOT HAVE (for some reason such as WWIII, a sudden collapse in production, etc) petrodiesel and gasoline and (some natural gas fired) farm equipment and trucks, we have essentially three basic choices avialable to us, in the real world, in real time, since the electrical equipment to which you refer does not yet exist in a practical form.The battery in a new Chevy volt would run my tractor for about fifteen minutes, max,doing very light duty work.There is no such thing as a long distance over the road electric truck, and there probably will not be such a truck within the next decade or two, if ever..

We can all sing koomby ya while we starve by the tens of millions,and while the refugees from places like Chicago are met at the state lines in places like Mississippi by troops with live ammo-troops who mean business.Very nasty scenario, is it not?

Or we could try to revert to the animal and human powered agriculture that my parents still practiced when I was a kid.Ain't gonna happen without a few tens of millions of people dying and the rest of us getting herded around like the peasants in Stalin era Russia.I have spent a hundred degree August day in a corn field in the South with a goose neck hoe,and I lived the first ten years of my life in a two room board and batten green oak shack without running water. I know what I am talking about.......

Or we could bite the bullet really hard, do everthing possible to save , conserve, reorganize, throttle down, call it what you like-and grow enough biofuels to run the food production and distribution system, until such a time as we could make the transition to a better system as the technology becomes available and can be scaled up...Any one who reads this forum as a regular thing and has a good memory will know that this is my basic position.

I have remarked here several times that I can farm more efficiently with twenty dollar PER GALLON diesel than I can with a horse.Incidentally I have a degree in ag from Virginia Tech, and close to a hundred credit hours total in the physical and biological sciences as all ag claases are essentially science classes.About half of these credits were earned in the same classrooms , at the same hour, with the students majoring in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering..the rest are specialized.

If it becomes necessary, we CAN grow enough crops for use as biofuels to keep the current agricultural infrastructure running , and we CAN PROBABLY do this in real time,avoiding a descent into a third world situation here in the US.

We need not starve, biofuels can save our fat butts, if doing so becomes necessary on short notice.

Horses can't, and transition movements can't; there will not be enough time to scale these things up in the event of a sudden ff supply crash.

I have posted many times here that I am all in favor of the fastest possible buildout of the renewables industries.MANY TIMES!

I have frequently posted comments to the effect that if the biofuels industry becomes large enough and successful enough to convince the public that a continuation of the automobile and auto centered bau culture is possible, that the consequences will be catastrophic,that the final result will be the utter ruin of what is left of the countryside as more and more land gets converted to biofuel production.A total ecological collapse could concievably follow.

I am reasonably well informed as to what is possible and practical in the real world, within real world time restraints.

I have read this forum with great care for a year, and probably have posted over a thousand technically oriented comments by now.

I have been called some rather amusing things in this forum by a couple of characters I personally think of as idiots, but never until now, so far as I can recall, have I been called scientifically illiterate.

I suggest that YOU actually take a couple of chemistry and physics courses-not the ones for lit and poly sci majors, the real ones , the kind that require a lot of midnight oil for a whole year, and a full day or so in the lab every week.

Thereafter you will understand just how asinine an idea it is to even contemplate using wind power to electrolyze water to obtain O2 and H2 to in order to burn coal and manufacture methane.

Oxygen can be seperated from the air in a conventional industrial plant designed for the purpose of purifying atmospheric gases at a very small fraction of the costs of electrolysis, and there are such plants within easy delivery distance of every major city already.

Incidentally, they run mostly on electricity- which is mostly generated by burning coal.If we ever burn coal in pure O2, it will almost certainly be sourced from such a plant.

This idea is right up there with the farming in a skyscraper concept.Sure it could be MADE to work, BUT only at an enormous loss of BOTH ENERGY AND MONEY.

There are a number of engineers with aviation credentials who post here..I will not post for a month, so help me, if a single one of them believes an aircraft of the sort you advocate will ever be built and sold for actual commercial use.It would probably use two or three times as much fuel per passenger mile as a comparable conventional state of the art model and cost several times as much.

Fact is that electricity can be used to produce H2 where electricity cannot be used directly (e.g. trucks or because storing energy in CH4 is cheaper than storing it in a battery) and fact is that H2 can be turned into CH4 using CO2.
Fact is that there is neither a shortage of wind and solar energy to draw from and the sun WON'T actually cool down just because more windfarms are being built.

The EEA estimates the technical potential of offshore wind in 2020 at 25,000 TWh, between six and seven times greater than projected electricity demand, rising to 30,000 TWh in 2030, seven times greater than projected electricity demand.

Fact is that CH4 can be produced at centralized stations and transported with very little energy to decentralized locations to run CHP plants, cars, trucks, tractors etc.

It may be more economical to produce ammonia from H2 than CH4 from H2 and CO2, but besides that CH4 has a higher energy density than ammonia and a distribution network for CH4 is already in place, artificially producing CH4 from O2 and H2 is still a better concept than purifying CO2 and than just pump vast amounts into the ground.

The potential customers for the low grade heat currently wasted by existing plants are too far away

That's why according to the facts and AGAIN CHP power units grow at a rapid rate (100 GW in 2008) and are installed where low grade heat energy is needed:

Pray tell, just what does "using more natural not practical"

Actually you don't need more natural gas, because the economy will be more fuel-efficient as artificially produced CH4 is more costly than CH4 pumped out of the ground and natural gas which is currently wasted in heating and hot water systems around the world can be substituted by heat pumps which run on electricity and heat energy can actually be stored inexpensively (a concept one would easily understand if that person wasn't scientifically illiterate..) and households do require lots of low grade heat energy:

if a single one of them believes an aircraft of the sort you advocate will ever be built and sold for actual commercial use

Actually besides that I don't advocate this sort of aircraft (not using oil heaters and not driving F-150s would be more effective in saving state of the art fuel for aircrafts), this aircraft was built and flew over 20 years ago if you ever care to read:

Upon flight testing and development 18 January, 1989 TU-155 a/c performed its first flight on liquefied natural gas. Large flight testing Program was fulfilled, several international flight demonstrations were made including those to Bratislava (Czhekoslovakia), Nice (France), Berlin and Ganover (Germany).

It would probably use two or three times as much fuel per passenger mile

Actually it won't:

Fuel efficiency of flight using LNG can make 10 g/pass, km.
When using LNG potential emission of toxic agents will be decreased as follows: carbon monoxide – 1 – 10 times, hydrocarbons – 2.5 – 3 times, nitrogen oxides – 1.5 – 2 times, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including benzapyrene – 10 times.

I suggest that YOU actually take a couple of chemistry and physics courses-not the ones for lit and poly sci majors, the real ones , the kind that require a lot of midnight oil for a whole year, and a full day or so in the lab every week.

I suggest to YOU not only to take or repeat basic math, physics and chemistry courses but more importantly to take a reading and memory course as well.
After all, you are the one who believes growing crops to produce liquid fuel and run the world economy is more practical than electrifying our economy where possible and producing natural gas from coal and organic waste where electricity is not a practical option.

Thank you,

Anyone for reminding me that one should never engage a fool in a discussion in a public place; for the casual passerby will not be able to discern who is who.

I stand corrected, and hereafter I will follow your example of believing every happy hour juvenile scheme I see on the web, and I will run right down to the social services agency, first thing in the morning, and get signed up for GED classes.

Any regular reader will underestand instantly that you are either lying or ignorant of the facts when you accuse me of WANTING to run the world on biofuels.

Given the fact that I spent a few minutes summarizing my many comments here concerning biofuels;and that you immediate response is too accuse me of advocating the opposite position,immediately afterword,it is obvious that you are not a regular reader of this forum.

Otherwise you would realize that you are ...well... making yourself look like a spoiled little girl, something of that nature.Even a dimestore lawyer would have checked my comments and read more than one of them before accusing me of believing in and advocating " growing run the world economy.

What is even more amusing-actually rather astonishing, given that alomost everybody here acts like an adult nearly all the time- is that you paint me as a supporter of the ethanol industry.

I very seriously doubt if any other reader has made more , or more acid , negative comments than I have in relation to the ethanol industry, within the last year.

Actually, you are obviously an ignorant, prevaricating, defiant fool, who is just trying to squirm free of your previous comments and notions in addition to not being capable to deliver any facts at all - as always.

I rest my case.
Any rebuttal is an obvious waste of time.

I'd like to see some real world cost estimates for synthetic or Sabatier methane to see if it can get anywhere close to current natural gas prices. The H2 needs to be cheap and the CO2 should be free of SOx and NOx. When it is burned the combustion products H20 and CO2 go back into natural cycles and can be re-harvested indefinitely. The critical variable is the cost of hydrogen.

It looks like we will see soon use natural gas (~80% CH4) for everything from car fuel to replacing baseload coal fired power stations. Therefore natural gas won't last that long as the Brits found out with their North Sea reserves. However the gas grid remains a sunk cost so we should find ways of keeping it in use. A great advantage of mainly-methane gas fuel is that we can blend several sources including digester gas, catalytically converted wood gas, natural gas and synthetic.

I'd like to see some real world cost estimates for synthetic or Sabatier methane to see if it can get anywhere close to current natural gas prices.

Of course it cannot compete with current natural gas prices and H2 is not cheap either. But where electricity is not a power/energy storage option - CH4 is.

It looks like we will see soon use natural gas (~80% CH4) for everything from car fuel to replacing baseload coal fired power stations. Therefore natural gas won't last that long as the Brits found out with their North Sea reserves.

Exactly, which is one reason why it does make sense to produce methane from coal and organic waste.

As I see it CCS faces a triple whammy
1) the energy penalty
2) the storage volume requirement
3) killer carbon carbon tax rates.

The waste volume requirement will be different for liquefied CO2 as opposed to saline absorbed CO2. If I recall Richard Heinberg discussed a case where liquid CO2 required double the volume of the original coal. The planet just doesn't have enough empty spaces underground.

I've also seen estimates that carbon taxes or spot permit prices would need to be $100 per tonne of CO2. It would be hard to live with that on the present energy mix as it would add 25c per litre of petrol and 10c per kilowatt hour of conventional black coal fired electricity. Those price increases might be too big an economic shock to undertake on a voluntary basis.

What a great thread!!!!

We are all discussing the most economical way to perform a function that has absolutely no ecological, social or economic value.

It has been proven that the earth has had much higher CO2 levels many times in the past and no "tipping point" was ever reached. CO2 makes our forests and crops more drought resistant and results in higher yields. I vote that we spend our $$$ and energy supplies on something that will benefit mankind and not just those who hold the real power in the world.

double post deleted - satellite signal glitch

You left out another method namely extracting the CO2 directly from the atmosphere. Nature has provided us with a device which can be cheaply produced in large numbers that extract carbon from the atmosphere. These devices run on solar energy and can be used for multiple purposes such as building materials, food production, and heating buildings. By producing charcoal from devices which can no longer do the job of extracting CO2 the future production of these devices can be done more efficiently. The charcoal stores carbon in a solid state which has been shown to not degrade for thousands of years. The charcoal manufacturing process produces gaseous fuels which can be used instead of coal in electricity generation. Therefore there is a way to do CCS which could actually reduce the amount of coal being mined.

How is this for a solution to coal-fired power plant emissions?:

Clean the coal of its impurities BEFORE you burn it.

Burn clean, high-purity carbon solids from the cleaned coal.

No ash; no sulfur -- just CO2 emissions as a result of oxidation.

C02 emissions for each coal fired power plant could be reduced by >30% since you need less higher purity coal to burn.

Ash impoundment would be reduced signficantly, because the coal would burn cleanly without ash waste.

So the future of clean coal is Cleaned Coal -- clean the coal of its impurities before it is burned.

You don't understand that CO2 is a pollutant.
Crazy denier.

You don't understand that CO2 is a pollutant.
Crazy denier.

Now, now, Majorian. Play nice.

CO2 is not per se a pollutant. It is a necessary atmospheric gas for plants. They need CO2 to grow. If you removed all the CO2 from the atmosphere, not only would all the plants die, it would trigger an ice age worse than any seen to date and the planet would freeze all the way to the equator.

The real issue is that there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, and this will trigger global warming, or so many people believe. I'm not entirely sure this is true. I would say there is about a 20% probability that it will forestall another ice age, which has been predicted by other theories.

My own guess? Based on completely insufficient data compiled from many unreliable sources (the only kind): 60% chance of global warming, 20% chance of global cooling, 20% chance things will stay the same. I don't know for sure, and having read a great deal of the literature, I don't believe anybody else does, either. We'll know in 100 years or so, by which time I will be dead, but most of the trees I planted will still be alive regardless of global warming. They do fine 1000 miles south of here.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.