Carbon Capture and Storage: Economic Costs Revisited

This is an updated version of post by Rembrandt from 2007.-Gail

Capturing carbon dioxide from coal (and gas) fired electricity plants, and subsequently transporting 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.

When I looked at the situation in 2007, the European Union hoped to have 12 large CO2 capture and storage demonstration projects at coal plants of at least 250 MW of capacity in place by 2015, requiring an investment of 5 billion euro. Progress has been slow, however. At the end of 2009, after 13 months of discussion, the European Union finally made the decision to invest 1 billion euro in six demonstration projects. In February, 2010 another 300 million euro was made available, which would be sufficient for two more CO2 capture and storage demonstration projects. The expectation behind these investments are that they will lead to significant cost reductions, making the technology affordable by 2020.

Even as these projects get off the ground, there are two large drawbacks:

  • The process is quite energy intensive, and thus will use up coal supplies faster.
  • Because of the additional energy cost the process will remain quite expensive, it is not certain that costs can be reduced sufficiently

In this post, I will talk about the second item, the high economic cost. In my previous post, I quantified the impact the extra energy cost might be expected to have on coal depletion.

In 2007, I participated in an evening group discussion about possibilities for the Dutch economy relating to capturing and storing carbon dioxide. After two interesting talks, one outlining the technical possibilities for storage in the Netherlands and the other the commercial possibilities, one of the other participants made a remark that was spot on. No matter how wonderful the idea of capturing and storing carbon dioxide may sound, it will always be costly to do so relative to current electricity production costs.

The additional costs were estimated by the IPCC in a 2007 special report on carbon dioxide capture and storage at 1 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (with these cents computed in US$), with the difference depending on the type of power plant, the technology employed for capturing, the reservoir in which the CO2 is stored, the transporting distance and other variables. The largest share of the costs originate from the extra energy needed to capture a pure stream of carbon dioxide for storage. The IPCC estimates the costs using a broad range of publications for different power plants as follows:

“Application of CCS to electricity production, under 2002 conditions, is estimated to increase electricity generation costs by about 0.01–0.05 US dollars per kilowatt hour (US$/kWh), depending on the fuel, the specific technology, the location and the national circumstances. Inclusion of the benefits of EOR [enhanced oil recovery] would reduce additional electricity production costs due to CCS by around 0.01–0.02 US$/kWh”

More specifically:

“The application of capture technology would add about 1.8 to 3.4 dollar cents per kWh to the cost of electricity from a pulverized coal power plant, 0.9 to 2.2 dollar cents per kWh to the cost for electricity from an integrated gasification combined cycle coal power plant, and 1.2 to 2.4 dollar cents per kWh from a natural gas combined-cycle power plant. Transport and storage costs would add between –1 and 1 dollar cents per kWh to this range for coal plants, and about half as much for gas plants. The negative costs are associated with assumed offsetting revenues from CO2 storage in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or enhanced coal bed methane (ECBM) projects. Typical costs for transportation and geological storage from coal plants would range from 0.05–0.06 dollar cents per kWh.”

Figure 1 - Costs of Carbon Capture and Storage in dollars per kWh from the IPCC report

Figure 2 - Costs of Carbon Capture and Storage in dollars per ton of CO2 avoided from the IPCC report

When I did my analysis in 2007, the industrial base price of electricity in the Netherlands was about 7 eurocents per kWh or 9.6 dollar cents per kWh. This was in the high range relative to other European countries. For the most likely application--a pulverized coal power plant--the additional cost of capture and storage would amount to 20% to 30% over and above the industrial base price. This is confirmed by a recent study to published in Energy Policy, volume 35, Issue 9, September 2007, pages 4444-4454: “Cost and performance of fossil fuel power plants with CO2 capture and storage“. The authors, E. Rubin et al, estimate a cost increase of 15% to 30%. They base this on a wide range of previous publications.

To cover these costs in the long run in a market environment, companies are looking at two distinct options. First, there is the hope that carbon capture and storage can be paid by the pricing of carbon dioxide through the European emissions trading scheme. Second, the possibility of enhanced oil recovery by carbon dioxide injection in oil fields could offset some of the costs incurred.

The European emission trading scheme is an initiative under the Kyoto protocol. It provides Europe with a market to trade greenhouse gas emission allowances or emission reduction units. Each individual company is given an assigned amount of Kyoto Protocol Units or Carbon Credits which can be increased or decreased through several mechanisms. Every carbon credit is equivalent to a reduction of one ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Within the trading scheme, a party is allowed to transfer their carbon credits to or from another party. An unlimited number of units may be acquired by emissions trading while only a limited number may be transferred to another party. At the moment, carbon capture and storage is not incorporated as a possibility for mitigation under the emissions trading scheme.

The European carbon credit market passed its test phase and became effective in 2008. During the test stage before 2008, it did not function very well because too many credits were handed out, thereby putting a downward pressure on the price of a ton of carbon. We can see this in Figure 3 below. In April 2006, when news came out that countries had a surplus of credits, their value began dropping significantly. During 2008 when more players entered the market and the market became effective, the cost of a ton of CO2 rose significantly, up towards 40 euro, but from June onwards the price dropped significantly due to investor expectations being adjusted by developing events in the economy. As the economy has only slowly picked up somewhat, and energy consumption is still low relative to early 2008 levels, the price of CO2 is still very low as shown in Figure 4 below.

Figure 3 - Price development per ton of Carbon dioxide under the European emission trading scheme, source:

Figure 4 - Price development per ton of Carbon dioxide under the European emission trading scheme from November 2007 to March 2010, source:

Now, in 2010, the price for a carbon credit lies between 12 and 18 euros per ton CO2. In relation to the costs of carbon capture and storage this is much too low. In Table 2, the cost estimates from the IPCC for a pulverized coal power plant are shown to be between 30 to 70 dollars per ton CO2 or 20 to 50 euros. The present price makes the technology an economic disaster at any location. It is difficult to predict whether the price of carbon will increase because the development of the market is heavily dependent on economic developments and political negotiations. For instance, will more countries outside the European Union join in the trading in the future? Will the amount of carbon credits handed out be adjusted to the new economic situation?

Next to emissions trading, there are high hopes for enhanced oil recovery. In my opinion, these hopes are overblown, given that the technique can only be applied commercially at very few oil fields. This was recently highlighted by Statoil and Shell. The companies dropped plans to store CO2 at the Draugen oilfield in Norway because economic analysis showed that it was uneconomical to do so. Nonetheless, enhanced oil recovery is often considered as a possible option as explained in the case study below.

Pioneering Carbon Capture and Storage: Rotterdam Harbour

One of the 12 large CO2 capture and storage demonstration projects that the European Commission wants to develop by 2015 could very well be located in the Dutch harbour of Rotterdam. In 2007, the environmental agency of the Rijnmond Region, in which Rotterdam Harbour lies, calculated that it would be possible to capture and store up to 20 million tons of carbon emissions from the Rotterdam region annually for only 24 euro per ton of CO2 (PDF in Dutch, 3.6 MB, 56 pages), a price that is much lower than normal thanks to efficient usage of energy. A significant amount of heat created by local industry is wasted which can be applied for usage in the capture process. The environmental agency has assumed that this waste heat can be utilised for free as input in the capture process, hence the huge reduction in costs for capture and storage. However, it still remains to be seen whether the local companies will comply with giving away their waste heat for free--no one has asked the companies formally thus far.

In the analysis of the agency, if a price of 24 euros per ton of CO2 can be realized (which is much higher than the current trading range of 12 to 18 euros), then this project would be viable under the European emission trading scheme. Additional funding could be gained by the application of enhanced oil recovery according to the environmental agency of Rijnmond. In the agency's analysis, they assume that two additional barrels of crude oil will be produced for every ton of injected CO2. They also assume an oil price of 30 dollars per barrel. However, this income flow is very variable. When applicable at an oil field, the injection of carbon dioxide will only be maintained for a few years. Beyond that period, it is not expected to not deliver additional production benefits, so the income flow can be expected to slow down and then come to a halt. Furthermore, time is running out, because many fields that appear to be suitable for carbon dioxide injection for enhanced oil recovery will be closed down in the period of 2008 to 2012. By 2018, very few oil fields will be available for injection purposes.


While the idea of carbon dioxide capture and storage seems excellent, the costs are a large hurdle that might cancel this option altogether. Only with continued political support will this technological mitigation option for climate change become viable. The best option in pursuing this technology is full support of carbon dioxide capture and storage in the European emissions trading scheme, to make pioneering projects such as the one proposed at Rotterdam harbour viable. For larger application beyond a few projects, the price of a ton of carbon needs to increase, or the costs of capture and storage will need to come down significantly. Whether this will happen in the long term future is doubtful.

Interesting. It was rather depressing last year in the UK during a Labour Party fringe meeting to hear Joan Ruddock put so much faith in CCS. When asked several times by audience members what would happen if it didn't work she replied "Then we'll have to think again". Given the timescales we're talking about with decommissioning existing nuclear and coal plants and the CO2 reductions required for the UK, that sounds a fairly casual approach to me ...

And to throw a little more coal on the fire:

Know your enemy.

That report is by the infamous Peak Oil/ Climate Change denier Michael Economides.
In 2007, Economides said peak oil was decades away and he is #99 on Inhofe's List of 400 scientists.
He is the Mouth of Big Oil, which is furiously fighting against having to put in pollution controls for CO2(oil refineries in the US are #3 CO2 emitters after power plants and cement mills).

I know my enemy!!! It is those who wish to spend my money on projects that have little social, economic, or ecological value and the corrupt "Hide the decline" scientists that enable them to do so.

If you research Economides, aside from he not agreeing with you (and me too) on peak oil and being a CC skeptic, You will find the following:

"Dr. Michael Economides’ research efforts involve the optimization of the overall hydrocarbon production system from the reservoir, the wellbore and to the market. He has done major contributions on reservoir stimulation theory, advanced reservoir exploitation strategies and complex well architecture design features. He is currently conducting industry efforts for driving deep offshore technology development, world energy scenario forecast and natural gas development. Next generation technology of oil and gas industry involves the development of advanced computer-aided tools."

Link :

Reservoir characteristics are a big part of what he is talking about in his paper linked in the start of this thread. He is an expert on the subject. Think about it for a minute, if you would. Essentially, he is saying that as you compress CO2, it becomes a liquid at 870 PSI(at sea level), according to Wiki. You do not get much further compression after that. As a result, you need, if you are going to inject CO2 into a productive reservoir, one which has enough other gas content to be compressed beyound that point. After that, it becomes a hydraulic pressure problem. Beyond that, you begin to reach a point where no compression means that the materials surrounding the particular reservoir begin taking the gas.

A complete aside here. My understanding is that subsurface formations generally derive their pressures from the overburden, and as oil and gas are produced, they actually begin to lose volume - shrinking. So if you are at 5000 feet below ground level, you have less pressure than if you are at 10,000 feet. Therefor, the only ideal way to utilize the old reservoirs is when they are first completed. Well, good luck on that. CO2 injected in oil and gas wells is more famous for corrosion than for increasing production. It is the next to the last phase in the life of an oil field. The last, of course, is plugging, the final solution.

I do expect the usual amount of flaming comments for agreeing with Economides - and I certainly do not agree with him on everything. It is not a situation where I have to love or hate the man to understand what he has to say. So have at it - I am pretty thick skinned from some earlier exposure to the flame throwers.

The DOE and IPCC have endorse CCS and you have Michael Economides (and Sen. Imhofe has his List of 400 and Big Tobacco had its friends, like Fred Singer who switched to CC).
You seem to be pretending that CO2-EOR doesn't work.
Good luck with that!

The rock pressure is typically 1 psi per foot and the hydrostatic pressure is about .45 psi per foot. So you are well above 1000 psi when you are 1000 feet down
and at Weyburn CO2 is injected 1500 meters down. When you pressurize CO2 above it's triple point of 1100 psi you get not a gas or liquid but a superfluid of supercritical CO2.

You seem to think that it is only big business that is against Carbon Capture and that they are supplying huge amounts of money to end the threat of that and Cap and Trade.

Well the amount that the private sector spends to protect itself from these inane ideas is minuscule in comparison to the monies spent by BIG GOVERNMENT!!!

If the politicians think that everyone can support themselves by clicking a mouse on some icons they have another think coming.

A healthy economy needs manufacturing jobs and they rely on reasonably priced energy.

Carbon Capture and Cap and Trade will only send all of the remaining manufacturing jobs to China.

I suggest that you give the motives of your government and politicians the same scrutiny that you give "Big Business" for it is big business that enables the people to earn a living not the government.

Big Business shipped millions of manufacturing US jobs to China--unenabling people to earn a living, not the Gummit(pointy headed DOE scientists?) and without Cap and Trade.

How on earth can can you mix the two?

(I'm sure you watch FOX.)

The Chinese worker simply outperforms the US worker in the key qualities of obedience(at the point of a gun), frugality in not needing a decent salary,
in numbers(hundreds of millions of workers) and in having an eager partner in the Chinese Capitalist Party(CCC).

This is the receipe for a healthy (Chinese) economy.

Face it, this has been going on since 1980 under the suck-up-to-business theory of economics(loving nicknamed, Disaster Capitalism).

Insanity is doing something over and over and a expecting different result.

US corporation lobbyists 'petition' our government with probably $1 billion dollars in information/bribes(the oil biz gave $168 million last year). The SCOTUS has determined this to be a VERY GOOD THING.

SCOTUS believes that big business and the government are one.

I guess you didn't get the memo.

I prefer a carbon tax but I have argued for Cap and Trade versus nothing because we have to do something about Global Warming now.

If the economic system we have today is the result of healthy intelligent economic thinking, then we need to try a really sick, deranged system.

(I'm sure you watch FOX.)

I am sure that it is your opinion that any news outlet that is to the right of CNN is run by Right Wing Gun Toting Antichrists.

So Big Business only supports the Republicans eh. Tell that to Goldman Sachs. Our whole political system left and right is funded by corporations. It is up to us to not fall for the BS from either side.

Big business "supports" both patries in the US. You guys arguing that you like one party better than the other are just hilarious. Until you impose absolute bans on political funding donations from anyone without a social insurance number, and limit the maximum donation from any individual to a very low number, nothing will change.

It is pretty easy to prevent the job export: tariffs. Jeff Rubin (and others) argues for tariffs based on each exporting country's carbon intensity of production. But one could use tariffs just set to balance trade.

Since I first read about CCS in a "Scientific American" article over ten years ago, it struck me as fundamentally wrong headed.

Besides the point you cover, I think moral hazard is one of the greatest threats of CCS--it is a handy way to think that we can go on with BAU and just pump some CCS into the ground. Who will be keeping track of the companies that claim that they are doing this? Will they have a better track record than the rating agencies that gave Lehman Brothers AAA up to the point that it collapsed?

It is in general symptomatic of a basically wrong-headed, linear view of reality. There is no "away" to put anything--CO2, plastic, toxics...

Even more basically, squirreling away comparatively tiny quantities of CO2 while at the same time UNsequestering massive quantities of carbon--8 some BILLION tons per year(=~30 billion tons CO2)--and claiming that this is in any way solving anything is just beyond delusional.

We can't even begin to talk about intentionally reducing even by a tiny bit 'production' (really extraction--un-sequestration) of any kind of fossil fuel (much less the total ban on further extraction we desperately need--or needED forty or so years ago before it was too late), yet we rush to spend lots of time talking about how to (pretend to) solve a problem we are busily making much, much worse every day.

PURE INSANITY! (as usual)

((writer's head explodes from frustration))


Besides the point you cover, I think moral hazard is one of the greatest threats of CCS--it is a handy way to think that we can go on with BAU and just pump some CCS into the ground. Who will be keeping track of the companies that claim that they are doing this?

This is a rather illogical objection.
Who is going to the trouble of compressing a large amount of CO2 at considerable cost putting it into a large expensive pipeline, sending it to a well-monitored EPA site for the purpose of hiding what he is doing?
The easiest thing is simply to emit it to atmosphere as we do now.

Phony enviromentalists decry CCS as a 'pretend' solution while they propose no
practical solutions whatever. 70% of US electricity comes from fossil fuels, 41% of all CO2 comes from power generation.

If your head wants to explode it is because it is because you can't face reality.

"they propose no practical solutions whatever"

Thank you for a truly hysterically funny response. It really lightened my morning to have a good belly laugh at that.

As for reality, I do wonder what reality you (and most others) live in.

The one I'm living in is now well into feed backs (death spirals) that are sending us straight to a fundamentally different planetary life (or rather death) system.

I could go on, but if you haven't been paying attention yet, you won't hear anything I am going to say since I have already been relegated in your mind to the category of "illogical, phony, pretend, can't face reality" nuts. And if you did get the slightest glimmer of our true predicament, it would just spoil your day. So please continue living in your dream world; I am sure it is a much nicer place than the planet I find myself inhabiting.

Just for further laughs, you presumably don't count yourself as a "phony environmentalist," so what are you?

I suspect a large part of the problem is that we don't agree on what the problem is in the first place. Define the problem as you see it and then we will argue about the solution. Otherwise, we are just blowing smoke in the wind.

Fully agree with dohboi, CCS = BAU easter island statue

Dohboi is in the ten ring, the bullseye today.

I for on ehave no doubt whatsover that buried CO2 will escape with catastrophic consequences on a regular basis, just as ships run aground and oil wells blow out.

At any rate, it seems obvoius that a carbon tax is a far better method of limiting emissions and eventually driving them down.

This would be easy to monitor, and a great deal more efficient, not reqiuring an army of new bueracrats.It would also be a heck of a lot less resource intensive, and ultimately cheaper.

We are already suffering from a near terminal case of bueracratitis as it is.

I fear that anyone who supports CCAS has not spent sufficient time contemplating the banking crisis;do we really want to throw the super banks another opportunity to rip us all offf again?

I strongly suspect anyone who opposes virtually every thing else as silly, misguided, or ignorant, or worse, but supports CCS has a personal stake in the ccs game.

I haven't had time to chase them down and check the facts out, but there are lots of rumors-perhaps true rumors- floating around to the effect that a heck of a lot of people are already invested big time in this likely boondoogle, and some of them are supposedly already rich as a result..

A straight carbon tax is not such a bad thing. What is bad is the idea of carbon credits which will lead to a mass fleecing of the public by those who control the political system. The big problem with the carbon tax is that it will be used as a vehicle to redistribute wealth via tax credits and further promote the left wing agenda.

At any rate, it seems obvoius that a carbon tax is a far better method of limiting emissions and eventually driving them down.

You hit that one out of the park. Dead on. Co2 "credits" trading is simply a scheme for making traders rich. A flat carbon tax on fossil fuels at source is simpler, easier, cheaper to administer, penalizes everyone equally, and does the best job of dis-incentivizing CO2 emissions for the lowest overall cost.

And for the paranoids worried about letting government have any more taxes, man, check out your national debt. An ode to a grecian problem. Simply pass a law making it mandatory that all taxes collected go to paying down the debt. Of course it appears that republican strategy is to eliminate deficit budgeting by running up the debt load so high that no more borrowing can happen, so Faux News would probably denounce this strategy as well.

I'm with you on the carbon tax, and we already have on of those here in BC. But it has been set so low that it does not make any difference to anyone's, or any business' behaviour.

And there is the problem - it only works when it makes carbon so expensive that it is painful, and then you start taking steps to avoid it. In the US context, that means $5+ gasoline, probably 6 or 7 to be really effective. And as we have seen, anyone who runs with that policy, is an easy target for the opposing party to run against it.

It certainly is the right solution - easy to track, incorruptible, no traders or speculation involved, etc. The thing I like most compared to cap and trade is that it puts a lot of the "decision making" in the hands of consumers - that is why big business and big gov don;t like it.

AS usual, the Swedes are on the right track, from;

Sweden enacted a tax on carbon emissions in 1991. Currently, the tax is $150 per ton of carbon, but no tax is applied to fuels used for electricity generation, and industries are required to pay only 50% of the tax (Johansson 2000). However, non-industrial consumers pay a separate tax on electricity. Fuels from renewable sources such as ethanol, methane, biofuels, peat, and waste are exempted (Osborn). As a result the tax led to heavy expansion of the use of biomass for heating and industry.

Sweden also accompanied this with a specific policy of eliminating all heating oil use, and they are almost there, thanks mainly to CHP district heating, wood pellet heating, and electric heat pumps. All off the shelf technology.

They have 600 diesel engined buses running on ethanol, and 180,000 flex fuel vehicles, Europe's largest fleet (though only 5% of their 4 million vehicles).

This shows that replacing oil as the transport fuel is clearly the hardest nut to crack, and that biofuel has a huge hill to climb. Unfortunately for Sweden,most of their ethanol comes from Brazil or Italy, so they have merely replaced one imported fuel for another. If anyone gets a cellulosic process going, expect to see sweden jump all over it.

Sweden is by far the farthest down the biofuel/low carbon road, they still have a long way to go, but at least they are moving.
Their oil consumption, per capita is just 51% of the US and Canada, and is less than Finland and Norway, so it shows what can be done, with some effort.

Sweden was cut off from all oil in WW2 and had to rely on wood gasifiers for vehicle fuel - the memories linger and they don;t want to get caught like that again.

Lots of toxics are stored safely. Lots of pollutants are captured before emission. Look at how much emissions have gone down from generating electricity. It is certainly within the realm of competency of government to regulate CO2 emissions. The reason it doesn't happen is that people want cheap stuff now and damn the future. The problem isn't primarily government or even industry. Most people have high discount rates about the future.

We could sequester most of the CO2 we now emit. There's a price for doing so. The price is just higher than most people are willing to pay.

My fundamental problem with CSS is that the cost of CSS is likely to raise electricity costs above the costs of generating electricity from nukes and likely above the costs of wind and geothermal as well.

given the price of alternatives such as photovoltaic solar, the economic cost of CCS doesn't seem like much of a barrier. I wonder whether this includes the pipeline system to get CO2 to where it can be reinjected.
CCS could still (potentially) be a wedge. When oil starts to get scarce, I can't imagine the US having the political will to leave an abundant energy resource in the ground. We will drown all the polar bears before we let a poor widow in the northeast freeze in winter.


My personal opinion is that CCS will simply be abandoned after investing many billions in it when the pain really kicks in.Coal iteslf will become very expensive in the not so distant future, and people will insist on cheap as possible energy in the short term.

I am all in favor of renewables but at the same time they cannot be rolled out fast enough,given current costs and technology, to abandon coal fired electricity or oil based transport anytime soon.

My fondest hope in this respect is that we can find the will to keep the pedal to the metal on renewables , both research and buildout.Combine this strategy with an equally seroiuos conservation and efficiency drive, and we might veery well be able to maintain some semblence of bau for another decade or two.

By then I believe the technology needed to bring the costs of wind,solar, and geothermal renewables down to a level we can live with as a society will be commercialized and commoditized,and we can thus avoid a REAL crash.

If we crash now, or in the next few years, I fear the renewables will be so long delayed in thier maturity that none of us will live to see a renewables based economy.The odds are not very good even in the best case scenario as i have outlined it just now.

Biofuels are a double edged blade;if we don't wean ourself off our automobiles and high energy lifestyles before the biofuels industries mature, we will probaby destroy the rest of the environment trying to maintain the automobile culture.

It's all over if Joe Sixpack ever comes to believe he can continue to drive his four by four on alcohol or biodiesel.

I find it hard to believe that the cost of CCS will be as little as 15% to 30% of current coal costs.

For one thing, the glitzy new technology that people think will save hugely on CCS costs is "Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)". These are still pretty much experimental--a couple of small units each in Europe and the US. The kinks need to be worked out of how these will be built, but until that happens (and perhaps even afterward) they are going to be quite expensive, compared to building a new conventional coal fired plant, and even more so, if no new plant was really needed--electricity producers could instead have used add-ons to the conventional plant, at much less cost. I doubt that the cost of building these new plants is really being fully considered.

There is also the cost of long distance transport of the CO2. I am willing to bet that costs will tend toward the higher end of the range, because there will not be huge amount of storage available locally. And, I, like Rembrandt, don't think EOR will be a big offset, in practice.

There are also all kinds of legal issues to be worked out. How do the rights transfers exactly work, and how is the liability funded? I expect that these issues, as they are explored further, will greatly add to the cost. This is a link to some presentations now being discussed by a California carbon capture review panel. They tend to focus more on legal aspects.

IGCC is proven technology with Tampa (1997)and Wabash(1995) both producing 300 MW each. The efficiency of these plants is about 40% versus 32% for most existing thermal coal plants so the energy required for carbon capture is recovered;
a IGCC plant needs .8 tons of coal for every ton a conventional PC plant needs.
Since a capture plant needs 25% more power than a non-capture plant then an IGCC plant with CCS would need 1 ton of coal rather than .8 tons.
So no net reduction which you are so concerned about.

Another advantage of IGCC is that the gasification process produces higher purity CO2 at higher pressure(30 psig rather than atmosphere with a retrofit)leaving less CO2 mass with less compressor energy.

On the transport energy again you must be reasonable. Natural gas transmission lines operate at the same pressure(100 bar) and they are everywhere. OTH, it may make more sense to locate IGCC-CCS in coal or oil/gas producing areas where the CCS burial sites are and transmitting eleciticy over power lines(which how also attach renewable wind/solar to the grid).

The DOE Carbon Sequestration Atlas shows locations all over the country.

Gail, you really need to give reasonable doubt to the DOE/EPA scientists who are backing this technology and not give into blind fears.

Another cost (or perhaps bottleneck) in this whole process is water availability. Because the process is more energy intensive more coal is burned, as Rembrandt indicated in his earlier post. In general, this means that the amount of water use for cooling will also need to go up. But in the US, we are pretty well maxed out on use of water by utilities for electrical production. Electrical utilities now account for something like half of all water withdrawals from water systems. (There is ongoing litigation between Georgia and neighboring states, because in time of drought, there is not enough water for all of the power plants. It almost became necessary to take one of the nuclear power plants off-line in the last drought.)

There are technologies for reducing water withdrawals and use, but these are expensive. I doubt that these costs have been considered in putting together the cost estimates either. This is a link to a presentation by Jeff Wright from FERC given at the April 2010 EIA Energy Conference in Washington DC mentioning the CCS/water issue.

Why is CCS even coming up for discussion on TOD? The concept is outlandish in so many ways and is only intended to allow coal interests to continue BAU.

Gail, I forgot to mention,

IGCC uses about half the water of pulverized coal plants.

According to studies recently conducted by DOE, IGCC power plants use 40 percent less water than do
pulverized-coal power plants (360 to 540 gallons/MWh versus 600 to 660 gallons/MWh). Additional studies
of the amount of water used by pulverized-coal power plants having advanced pollution controls and CO2
scrubbers suggest that they may have water usage of more than 1,000 gallons/MWh. Furthermore, a 1998
DOE study conducted by Parsons Engineering concluded that an IGCC plant’s water usage would be nearly
half that of a traditional power plant (357 gallons/MWh versus 612 gallons/MWh).

Coppicing plus charcoal making? You can bury the charcoal in fields to help improve soil quality. Each tonne of pure carbon buried represents 3.6 tonnes of CO2 "sequestered".

Each of the stages is economically viable and practised today. The charcoal production is energy positive.

Though I would be inclined to go through the coppiced wood -> wood product -> wood waste -> charcoal route instead.

I agree. There is about 1 billion tons of biomass grown in the US each year which could be pyrolyzed into charcoal. The global supply is much greater than that. The problem is it is still a small fraction of fossil carbon being released into the atmosphere. Its advantage is that charcoal does not degrade and samples several thousands of years old have been found and used to date archeological sites. Another advantage is it captures carbon released from all sources including mobile ones.

If CCS is pursued, then it should be mandated for all future, if any, coal plants. This should be combined with a cap and trade system or a tax intended to capture all the external costs of coals production and consumption. I don't see any point in debating the economics. If the utilities choose to build new coal plants and these constraints are in place, then they can figure out the economics and whether it is worthwhile to be in business. In addition, the utilities should be responsible for their own insurance that covers all potential costs of a massive release of CO2, the attendant deaths, and the impact on the atmosphere.

My concern would remain, however, that we may need a co2 sequestration priesthood to ensure no release for thousands of years. Kind of like the problem we have with nuclear wastes.

The problem is that we will screw around for a couple of more decades with pilot projects and debate while the planet is burning. Get off the pot now and phase out all existing coal plants and require that any new plants demonstrate viable CCS.

"The problem is that we will screw around for a couple of more decades with pilot projects and debate while the planet is burning."

I would be laughing if it were not for the fact that you are part of an educational system that my taxes paid for. It seems that the more money we spend on education the more ignorant the graduates become.

I did some simple calculations that proved that a simple 20% levy on Australia's retail electricity price was sufficient to fully fund the complete replacement of Australia's electricity infrastructure over a 30 year period. This approach had the advantage that the new infrastructure would be fully paid up and not carrying "mortgage" costs. If you accept a 15% to 30% increase in the cost of electricity as a straight charge to continue using coal you have not achieved any fundamental improvement in your position. You will run out of sites to store the Liquid CO2, you will run the risk of some of these sites leaking with the possibility of mass deaths(depending on where the sites are), you will eventually run out of coal, and you run the risk of steadily increasing coal prices as competition increases.

The alternative is to apply a levy on retail electricity prices (effectively another form of carbon tax) and apply those funds as a national share to the Desertec CSP programme, and thereafter start to draw on Solar generated electricity fed into the European grid across the Gibraltar Straits. This programme has the significant added advantage of improving economic performance of north Africa thereby reducing immigration pressure from that region. Netherlands win, the Atmosphere wins, Africa wins. Or you can keep using coal at a 30% increased rate. There is the other option of nuclear of course which would give you the opportunity to have radioactive waste material seeping into your ground water, as the US now has from 27 of its 65 reactor sites (tritium half life 12.3 years).

I did this calculation based on the then 13.5 cent price per unit bringing the price to 16.5 cents per unit. Now with no action the price is 19 cents per unit driven up by a proposed ETS called here a CPRS, and the Australian government has this week abandoned attempts to have its CPRS passed. So Australia now has higher electricity prices with nothing to show for it except much happier electricity distributors. Had the CPRS been passed our electricity prices were projected to rise to 25 cents per unit within the next 2.5 years. With the funding of new infrastructure being in the hands of the electricity generating companies, should they chose to do so.

Refer to Solarpaces for information on the Desertec Solar Energy for Europe programme.

If you would like to make a constructive comment based upon scientific evidence that apparently you are only privy to, then please do so.

I will be the first to admit that the press is left wing biased so it is very hard to find climate info that has not had the progressive seal of approval on it.

Read some of the articles linked here if you care to open your mind a tad.

If you want to make a science based argument about climate change, then make it. If your primary mode of making an argument against climate change is to assert that the science has a left wing bias and there is is some sort of conspiracy, then go elsewhere.

I wish you were right about climate change. I really do. It would simplify our way forward greatly.

For one it has been proven that climate change PRECEDES the change in CO2 levels by 200 years or so.

In a scale of 1 to 10 the earths CO2 levels are close to a 3. If the earth has not "tipped" into a giant cinder by now it never will tip do to CO2 levels.

Scientists that should know better have totally disregarded the Medieval Warming Period when claiming that the earth has never been warmer.

Bodies were found buried in the permafrost in Iceland just recently. Obviously there was no permafrost there when the bodies were buried.

The Arctic has not always been covered in ice so if it happens again it would not be unheard of.

A mere 11 thousand years ago parts of North America were covered by ice 1 mile thick. So yes the earth has warmed but it is all natural.

We are much more likely to enter a new Ice Age than we are to have man made global warming.

For one it has been proven that climate change PRECEDES the change in CO2 levels by 200 years or so.

Then why have temperatures been rising since begining of the industrial revolution?

Scientists that should know better have totally disregarded the Medieval Warming Period when claiming that the earth has never been warmer.

Despite substantial uncertainties, especially for the period prior to 1600 when data are scarce, the warmest period prior to the 20th century very likely occurred between 950 and 1100, but temperatures were probably between 0.1°C and 0.2°C below the 1961 to 1990 mean and significantly below the level shown by instrumental data after 1980. The heterogeneous nature of climate during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ is illustrated by the wide spread of values exhibited by the individual records.

A mere 11 thousand years ago parts of North America were covered by ice 1 mile thick. So yes the earth has warmed but it is all natural.

Other things besides CO2 cause climate changes like Ice Ages.

And these are the reasons you don't believe the climate scientists?

It all boils down to the half-life or residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere. A few days ago t finally dawned on me on how much scientists and sceptics differ in their estimates for the mean value of this residence time. I had always assumed that this number was fixed and that was the end of it.

Yet, I have learned that whenever you see an argument over the value of some physical constant, it usually means that some sort of disorder or entropy is involved. So this got me motivated enough to ask a question on Rembrandt's post a couple of days ago and Matt pointed me to a paper that described the IPCC heuristics. Heuristics! This means that no one understands what is actually going on!

So I spent about a day coming up with my own model, which includes entropy and diffusion and all sorts of good stuff.

IMO, this is the kind of finding that makes one into a believer of climate science. Like all engineers and scientists, we have a healthy dose of scepticism and by our nature we have to understand something before we actually believe in someone's assertion.

The key thing about CO2 retention in the atmosphere is that it has both a mean residence time of 5 to 6 years AND it has a persistence of 100's or even thousands of years. How to reconcile these two features is at the heart of fat-tailed statistics. The short residence times feeds the sceptics into thinking that GHG buildup is a fraud, while the long residence times tell us that this thing will pop in a major way.

I gain hope that providing a simple model for this phenomenon will spur some interest in how else we can mitigate CO2 buildup without resorting to underground sequestering.

For one it has been proven that climate change PRECEDES the change in CO2 levels by 200 years or so.

Sorry but this argument is really silly.

Take a system E (the earth) where, 1) when temp rises for some reason (sun or other), follows a CO2 rise due to change in climate, sea absorption, fauna, flora whatever.

Then take the same system with a species that has found a way to release plenty of burried CO2 : we know that the CO2 rises, and we know that it is due to fossile fuels burning, due to the isotopes.

Then 1) above isn't related at all to this new situation, at best you could infer from 1) that if the system moves to a similar "stable" position in temp/CO2 relationship, this new release of CO2 will indeed lead to a rise in temp.

Personnaly I am clearly against CCS, but not due to the fact that AGW would be bullshit, simply for the fact that burning 30% more of a precious material, and building a whole "exhaust pipe" infrastructure to push the smoke under the carpet is truly outrageous, not to mention also increasing mining polution and environment destruction by 30%, and of course all the money and work wasted there.(if it was 2 or 3 % maybe)

Again, CCS is completely in the BAU line of thought

Not that long until the fall when we will see if all the ice that formed last year (that brought arctic ice back 9 years to 2001 levels) and total world ice back to the same 20 year average as 2001... 1981 being when they started measuring it) melts or doesn't.

If it doesn't melt and/or more re-forms next winter we may not be hearing about global warming. If it all melts and doesn't re-form I will personally start becoming more concerned about the effects of global warming (but still question man's input). It will be Very Interesting to see and not that long to wait (as compared to world climate history).

I have no idea what will happen but then neither do any of us.
5 months to October.

The bottom line is that all of these dire forecasts are based on computer models that cannot even predict the past let alone the future.

They cannot predict the behavior of the greatest greenhouse gas of all, water vapor and the clouds that it creates.

The climate gate emails and data give anyone who is the least bit skeptical a real insight into the agenda of the scientists that are running the show.

Well, wouldn't you know that I don't use any computer models at all in my CO2 analysis.

You can analytically demonstrate that the impulse response to releasing a bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere has a time scale of 100's of years.

You know what the impulse response of water vapor is? Hint: Look outside to see if it is raining.

This is actually interesting chemistry and physics if you are curious.

You don't understand global warming.

It is a balance of positive and negative feedbacks.


If the balance is even a tiny bit to the positive, the earth will slowly warm.

You can see that the contribution of water vapor(in red) is small.

You may believe it is large but thousands of scientist say it is small.

Could you be wrong?

My 'gut' tells me you are wrong.

It's also not important if CO2(~1.5 W/m2) goes to zero (after 2100 AD?). Because the radiative forcings will be zero or close to it
and you won't see a net cooling effect.
Actually, the aerosols(sulfur) put into the atmosphere will also reduce as fossil fuels stop being produced.

The net effect is that the theoretical end of CO2 emissions by coal, etc. will only lock us into global temperatures at least 2-6 degrees C higher then they are today at least until the next orbital ice age occurs 20,000? years from now.
I think James Hansen said that he thinks that the elevated temperature could even eliminate the next ice age.

Interesting. Those high altitude cirrus clouds have some effect I see.

I just did a post on cloud ice crystal size distributions,

Not that I am a mad scientist, but perhaps some day we could figure out how to control the cloud crystals. Just a thought.

You are just plain boring (to say the truth)

Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Boring is better than being wrong, and that matters to me.

Sorry for this totally stupid (and false) message, not written under "normal conditions"
(guess I was trying to understand your blog posts being wasted, and got pissed off not following them ;) )

No problem, any feedback is better than no feedback.

Gee, there is a graph with pretty colors and all so I guess, based on the beautiful colors, the data that supports it must be 100% trust worthy.

As I said before, science cannot even predict the effects of water vapor in the atmosphere with any degree of accuracy let alone the effects of CO2 on the entire system.

If you come up with a plan that helps us use the little oil, gas and coal that we have left in a more efficient manner I will back you 1000%! Just don't expect me to be quite when the powers that be are picking my pocket by promoting snake oil at my expense.

So in your opinion, the pick-pockets are the CCS salesmen?
What agenda do the climate scientists have, and what snake-oil exactly are they trying to see?

The least pessimistic estimate of the costs of Cap and Trade/CO2 limits in the US is about a 3% permanent decline in the GDP and about $1 Trillion in costs over time. Well you know what, we had better be damn sure that the foundations that support this type of commitment are 99.9% sound.

Every dollar wasted on projects that are not cost effective and do not have a real benefit to mankind make us all poorer.

To top every thing off we move all of our sites that collect the temperature data away from uninhabited areas to urban heat islands. Of course some rocket scientist "corrects for the errors" that this induces. Oh gee wiz the weather station is located in the middle of a black top runway that is located hundreds on yards from the nearest tree. Well that should be good for a degree or two of "correction".

Garbage in equals garbage out. Oh yeah, make sure that you destroy all of the old temperature data since we are running out of space to store it.

What do you make of the CO2 data? That is more interesting than the temperature data. The CO2 is collected on Mauna Loa which is fairly remote.

Thanks for making my point. Mauna Loa is a volcano correct? What an inventive place to put a CO2 detector.

Look there is no doubt that CO2 levels are rising. The question is are the increasing levels as harmful as some are telling us. Quite frankly, humans have been better fed and have made much more progress during the warm periods than during the cold periods.

The ecosystem is much more durable than the warmists would have you believe. If the earth was going to reach the point of no return it had plenty of much better chances to do so in the past when CO2 levels were at least 3 times high than they are now.

1000 years ago Greenland was a farming community and they were growing citrus fruits in England if I am not mistaken. The climate that we are enjoying today is nothing new to the planet. If fact some years in the 1930s were warmer than than the late 1990s which were warmer than now.

No. There is absolutely no noise on the Mauna Loa data.

Seasonal variations clearly show up. Have you looked at the data?

No I have not and the fact that I am not a climate scientist pretty much insures that I would not be able to interpret it in any meaningful manner.

I do read lots of articles on global warming and the coming oil shortage. I try to find the truth in what is being said by both sides.

The hacked emails were very damaging to the "scientists" involved. Any time you try to squelch the peer review process you do untold harm to your credibility. I read some scalding reviews of the "fixes" that were applied to the very programs that processed the climate data.

OK, next time we can discuss the book that I haven't read.

In James Hansen's Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity he says there are 3 main sources of scientific information about climate change:

- Paleoclimatology. i.e. history of the planet's climate.
- Current era measurements.
- Climate models.

Out of the 3 he says climate models are the weakest and in his view they are pretty poor. His own forecasts are based much more on the results of paleoclimate research. See page 44 of his book.

In case you are wondering why I am so paranoid about Cap and Trade and CO2 legislation in the US!!!

"The Cap And Trade Bill Needs Attention

What this says is that 1 year after the enactment a home cannot be sold unless it complies with the energy and water standards that are provided in the bill. Along with this there is a record breaking tax increase, to the tune of around $6,800 per year for a family of four. This isn’t all it does either. It requires that you have a “Label” or license displayed on your property, like an auto tag. This tag will display the homes efficiency rating, like an Energy Star rating.
You’ll Need A License To Sell Your Home

In order to sell your house you’ll need an okay from the EPA administrator. In order to get this you have to have your house energy efficiency checked, and if the home doesn’t meet the criteria (that the administrator can raise every year if he desires) retrofitting and retesting will be required. The testing costs are estimated at around $200 per test, but once the law is in effect that cost is likely to increase, and all these measures include every type of building, even mobile homes."

OK it is not the law yet but the fact that it was proposed sends shiver up and down my spine.