GAO: No Clean Coal Technology Without Price on Carbon Pollution

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"GAO: No Clean Coal Technology Without Price on Carbon Pollution"

Another blow to the “breakthroughs will save us” bunch

CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss reports on the new GAO report on CCS.  For background, see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?

The Senate clean energy and global warming debate should begin the week of July 26th.   As it looms closer, Senators John Rockefeller (D-WV) and George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced comprehensive legislation to invest in “carbon capture and sequestration” technology (often called “clean coal”) that would capture and permanently store 80 percent or more carbon pollution from coal fired power plants.  Yet they oppose legislation to shrink carbon pollution, which would create a market for CCS technology.  On Friday July 16th, the Government Accountability Office unmasked the inconsistency of this approach when it determined that CCS remains an “immature” technology, and a price on carbon is essential to its development and deployment.

GAO found that many barriers remain before widespread adoption of CCS:

DOE does not systematically assess the maturity of key coal technologies, but GAO found consensus among stakeholders that CCS is less mature than efficiency technologies.

Commercial deployment of CCS is possible within 10 to 15 years.”¦  [Problems include] the large costs to install and operate current CCS technologies, the fact that large scale demonstration of CCS is needed in coal plants, and the lack of a national carbon policy to reduce CO2 emissions.

GAO concluded that a mandatory reduction in carbon pollution was essential for CCS to blossom.

Without a tax or a sufficiently restrictive limit on CO2 emissions, plant operators lack an economic incentive to use CCS technologies. Reports by IPCC, NAS, and the Global CCS Institute have all highlighted the importance of a carbon policy to incentivize the use of CCS.

Three days before, Senators Rockefeller and Voinovich introduced the “Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Act,” S. 3591.  George Peridas of NRDC provides a helpful summary.

* Devotes up to $0.85 billion to research and development programs for CCS;

* Funds early CCS projects through a wires charge on fossil-based electricity generation, by collecting around $2 billion/yr for up to 10 years. This is along the lines of the Waxman-Markey provisions passed last year by the House, which survived in the Kerry-Boxer and Kerry-Lieberman proposals in the Senate.

* Extends existing loan guarantees of up to $20 billion for projects related to CCS infrastructure”¦as well as tax credits, for up to 10 gigawatts “¦of CCS deployment;

* Creates an incentive program for up to 62 gigawatts of CCS capacity, through tax credits and bond interest payment assistance;

* Creates a new emissions performance standard for new coal-fired powered plants initially permitted between 2010-2020;

Aside from lacking a limit on carbon pollution, there are other important concerns about this bill.

The bill’s $850 million for research and development is unpaid for.  The tax credits to employ 62 gigawatts of power plants with CCS could cost billions of dollars. It too lacks funding.  If these provisions were part of a bill to limit carbon pollution, they could be paid for with revenue from the auction of pollution allowances.  Without such a program, these measures would require deficit spending.

The bill requires that power plants eventually reduce their carbon pollution by fifty percent, but not until at least “January 1, 2030″ — twenty years from now.  We cannot wait that long to act.   NASA reported that the 2000’s was the hottest decade on record, and the last six months were the hottest on record too.  In contrast, the American Power Act requires compliance with a pollution limit for power plants ten years earlier.

Senators Voinovich and Rockefeller have yet to support global warming pollution reduction legislation.   Both voted for Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding, which would have blocked President Obama’s clean car standards that even had the auto companies’ support.

Senator Voinovich and all other Republican members skipped the Senate Environment Committee vote on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733, last fall.

Senator Rockefeller introduced the “Stationary Sources Regulatory Delay Act, S. 3072, which would block EPA from taking any steps to reduce global warming for two years, which would delay progress for double that time.  Upon its introduction, he said that the bill would

Safeguard jobs, the coal industry, and the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology”¦Congress, not the EPA, must be the ideal decision-maker on such a challenging issue.

As Senate floor debate is about to occur so that Congress can be the decision-maker, Politico reports that:

West Virginia Sen. John Rockefeller (D) has also spoken up more aggressively in recent weeks about his opposition to such [global warming] measures.

On Friday July 16, Carte Goodwin was appointed to replace the late Senator Robert Byrd.  At his first press conference the new appointee joined Senator Rockefeller in opposition to global warming pollution reduction legislation.

From what I’ve seen, they are simply not right for West Virginia”¦I will not support any piece of legislation that threatens any West Virginia job or any West Virginia family.

GAO determined that CCS technology – essential for West Virginia families and jobs in a carbon limited future – can not succeed without such legislation.

Seven months before the GAO report, Senator Byrd knew that the best hope for West Virginia was to include CCS incentives with a limit on carbon pollution.  These measures were included in S. 1733.

I have spent the past six months working with a group of coal state Democrats in the Senate”¦drafting provisions to assist the coal industry in more easily transitioning to a lower-carbon economy”¦These are among the achievable ways coal can continue its major role in our national energy portfolio. It is the best way to step up to the challenge and help lead change.

As one of his final votes, Senator Byrd opposed Senator Murkowski’s amendment.  He said:

I believe that the measure that we are being asked to vote upon today is extreme”¦.

Finally, mark my words, the regulation of greenhouse gasses is approaching, whether done by Congress or by regulation.

Senator Byrd knew that the future of coal depends on investments in carbon capture and storage technology combined with declining limits on carbon pollution.  GAO just confirmed his wisdom.   It’s now up to Senators Rockefeller, Voinovich, and Goodwin to get serious about CCS by supporting Senator Reid’s legislation to limit carbon pollution from utilities.

— Daniel J. Weiss

JR:  This analysis is yet more evidence that an R&D-only approach can’t avert catastrophic global warming (see The breakthrough technology illusion and Bill Gates is wrong about “energy miracles”).  CCS in particular simply is too implausible without a shrinking cap and rising price (see Harvard stunner: “Realistic” first-generation CCS costs a whopping $150 per ton of CO2 “” 20 cents per kWh! and here).  To make CCS viable, you’d need a massive injection of demonstration funding (which could realistically only come from a bill that is paid for by making polluters pay) and the certain knowledge of a serious CO2 price in the foreseeable future.

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43 Responses to GAO: No Clean Coal Technology Without Price on Carbon Pollution

  1. pete best says:

    Yes it gonna require massive investment and cultural change to boot so forget it to be fair. People aint gonna drive smaller cars unless petrol and diesel costs a lot and eats into their wages. Put simply CCS, CSP (expensive electricity relative to coal, biofuel from algae, energy from wind etc can do a lot for us and reduce out carbon emissions but its never going to be the entire story.

    electric cars, energy efficiency and simply using less through pricing being too high are some of the issues we face but its all a real mess at the monment for batteries can offer the benefit of oil in terms of MPG, power and the cool factor, aitcraft dont fly on anything but oil, coal is still cheapest and available in countries that use it and that means energy secuirty. Tar sand sit on the doorstep, offshore although nasty means more and more is required.

    The simplest solution is for all cars to do 60 MPG. Its already here and totally achieveable but its a slow generational process over many decades. Any takers?

  2. fj2 says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/opinion/18kristof.html

    “Our Beaker Is Starting to Boil”
    — Excellent OP-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristoff, NY Times, July 18, 2010

    “I was just incredulous,” he told me. “We took measurements with laser rangefinders to measure the loss of height of the glaciers. The drop was often equivalent of a 35- or 40-story building.”

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    These politicians will do everything to protect ‘King Coal’
    even if it means frying the planet- which they are doing exceedingly well.

    I watched a film from 1993 the other nite- ‘The Fire Next Time’ about the world in 2017 =the world is being overcome by global warming

    funny how little has changed in 17 years…………

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Shocked and Disappointed

    I am shocked and disappointed that (as it seems from the public discourse) most economists seem to have forgotten some very foundational things about markets.

    If it is free to dump CO2 in large quantities into the atmosphere, and if there is no cost assigned to those energy sources that do so, and thus if those sources can be sold to us at much less than their total true cost to us, then “markets” won’t care about the CO2 problem and will certainly not be highly motivated to effectively address it. A “price on carbon” is essential. Without one, we can’t even consider that we have a healthy and informed marketplace. Aren’t excellent markets supposed to be well-informed markets, able to consider all factors, costs, prices, and so forth? Or, are we trying to fool ourselves? Or, are large players in the market trying to fool the public?

    I am disappointed — DEEPLY — in most of the economics community. The next time I see an economist or hear one trying to inform me of something, the first thing I’ll ask is, “What have you done to clarify some of these things to the public, in order that the public can make sensible and informed decisions with respect to climate change and energy?”. If the person says “nothing”, or if his/her actions amount to nothing on this front, that will be the end of the conversation for me, and so much for credibility.

    Economists should be pointing out the poor thinking taking place these days, and correcting it. If someone says “markets will address the problem” and then says “we don’t want or need a price for carbon”, challenge them, clearly and fast.

    This whole thing will be a matter of credibility for the economics profession and for individual economists.

    Sigh,

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Myths and facts of “clean coal” technologies

    CCS is cost intensive. It increases the costs of power generation by 40 to 80% compared with conventional power plants, depending on the location of the plant and the storage site, and the transport and capture technology used.

    CCS produces additional long-term costs. Monitoring and verification over decades is necessary to guarantee the retention of the stored carbon dioxide. Even then, opportunities to intervene in order to prevent or control unexpected leakage events are likely to be limited.

    CCS is not a technology of today nor of the immediate future because of technical uncertainties as to whether it will work or not. Focusing on renewables is still the best way to go.
    http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/asia-energy-revolution/dirty-energy/clean-coal-myth/clean-coal-myths-and-facts

  6. Esop says:

    #2: Nice NYT OP-Ed there, it mentions and links to CP as well!
    Good to see the changes in the coverage by the MSM. The tide is definitely turning now. I guess that the journalists have been less than impressed by the old and tired global cooling forecast of the deniers and are slowly realizing that the climate scientists knew what they were talking about after all.

  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    Jeff:

    I’m an economist and I’ve been sounding the alarm on peak oil and climate change for nearly seven years.

    Where are these economists who don’t think we need a price on carbon? I’m not talking about bought-and-paid-for industry shills; their willingness to sell their souls to the highest bidder is far more relevant than their educational background, IMO. Every economist of any standing I’ve heard talk on the issue has said we need a price on carbon at a bare minimum. Some are now saying we need a carbon price plus other, specific regulations and/or taxes to curtail carbon emissions in line with the current scientific understanding. (This is mostly in terms of a reasonable carbon price not pushing up the price of gasoline enough to trigger the needed CO2 reductions in the transportation sector.)

    We’re not all econo-vampires looking to sell your children on eBay as part of some grand experiment to determine the demand elasticity for toddlers. Really. Lots of us are on the right side of these issues (meaning climate change and peak oil, not the toddler thing).

    But if you hear anyone making absurd claims, economist or otherwise, feel free to berate him/her. I certainly will.

    Lou

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    What would John Davison Rockefeller do today?

    A hint from John D. Rockefeller Junior.

    in 1928 is estimated to have been the equivalent of $6.5 billion in 1988 dollars. But rather than a career in business, Rockefeller devoted his life primarily to philanthropic and civic activities, particularly to those designed to advance human welfare and to further international, interfaith and interracial concepts. Among his gifts were large sums to educational organizations, religious causes, hospitals, scientific projects, conservation and parklands, and historic preservation.

    Perhaps most outstanding in this field was his gift of $8,515,000 in December, 1946, for the purchase of the land for the permanent home of the United Nations in New York. “It is my belief that this City affords an environment uniquely fitted to the task of the United Nations and that the people of New York would like to have the United Nations here permanently,” he said in making this gift. “If this property can be useful to you in meeting the great responsibility entrusted to you by the people of the world, it will be a source of infinite satisfaction to me and my family.”
    http://www.rockarch.org/bio/jdrjr.php

  9. Dan says:

    To be fair, one other way to encourage CCS deployment is to mandate it on all new coal plants, as the UK has done.

    Not that the Senators from OH and WV would favor that, though.

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    Great Smoky Mountains

    Founded in 1940, the park owes its creation, in part, to some of the biggest names in American conservation: John D. Rockefeller Jr., who donated $5 million to the effort, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was in the White House when the park was dedicated.

    Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/national-parks-47111101#ixzz0u9AJxuVG

    Climate Change in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    “Drought, forest fires, loss of sensitive organisms like salamanders and brook trout, more severe floods (possibly leading to the relocation of mountain communities) worsening air pollution and more mobile and far-ranging forest pests and pathogens-those are some of the
    impacts suggested by the past decade of extreme weather” (Impacts for the Southeast, EPA)
    http://www.macalester.edu/environmentalstudies/students/projects/natlparkgreatsmokymtns.pdf

  11. Raul M. says:

    Tough question Prokaryotes,
    he would listen and stay alert to the information
    that the beneficiaries of his gifts would relay.
    Supposedly when individuals begin to know that
    their own time is running short they allow their
    more authentic self to emerge.
    That may come with the obvious knowledge that they
    aren’t able to do so many things that they could
    when they were younger, you know being physically
    able. As many of the others mentioned supply knowledge
    to the UN, my guess he would listen to the UN.
    Of course it would be inside info as the reality is
    too involving for the average too busy guy and doll.

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    I’m pretty sure he would have had by now a monopoly on clean energy.

  13. Raul M. says:

    one of the sad points in American history is that the
    servant class of the period just before the WW1 was very
    impoverished. Many only knew comfort from the master’s
    home. And because of the servant’s odor many knew not
    to approach the master’s. Such was life.
    A industrialists’ daughter from England was reputed to
    have joined the group that became the Red Cross.
    Trying to think of the English author who novelized her
    transition to doing something about it.

  14. mike roddy says:

    Dan, #8:

    Good idea. Why not make CCS for coal plants an international requirement? That would probably do more to enable clean power generation than anything we can think of.

    Certain countries won’t agree to it now, of course, but that could change.

  15. Jim Edelson says:

    Joe

    You forgot to add Andy Revkin to your list of “breakthrough illusionists”. His newest solution is “education to create the intellectual capacity”.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/senate-eyes-bush-plan-on-co2/

    Boy, Andy certainly must be having a bold day to propose that!!

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Deep Down a story from the heart of coal country

    Deep in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, where coal is king, Beverly May and Terry Ratliff find themselves at the center of a contentious community battle over a proposed mountaintop removal coal mine.
    http://deepdownfilm.org/

  17. Freddy Smith says:

    Stephen Schneider just died.

  18. Bob Wallace says:

    pete #1 – Will 60MPG cars be larger/faster than EVs? Will they be less effort to fuel and cheaper to operate?

    EVs using average-priced US electricity cost about $0.03 per mile to fuel. Time of use metering could very well drive that cost down to half or less.

    Filling their tanks does not require standing outside in broiling sun or rain/snow storms.

    A 60MPG car burning $3/gallon fuel costs about $0.05 per mile to fuel. And, as you say, it will take increased fuel costs to move people from their current low mileage vehicles that transition to 60MPG might not start to seriously happen until fuel hits $6/gallon. That’s $0.10 per mile.

    I’m guessing that fueling at 1/3rd the cost or less, ease of filling, less maintenance/repairs, roughly same size vehicles will drive the market to EVs.

  19. Ben Lieberman says:

    Very sad news about Stephen Schneider.
    On the posting what will it take to stop the fossil fuel hostage crisis whereby the American people and the world are held hostage to the economic interests of dirty energy producers?
    Is it time for a coal ban campaign–a binding treaty under which coal would be phased out and eventually banned. A sinking fee would provide a fund for legacy costs and reinvestment for affected areas. Countries that did not take part and sign on would be subjected to a dirty energy tariff.

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    pete #1 – Will 60MPG cars be larger/faster than EVs? Will they be less effort to fuel and cheaper to operate?

    The world has changed.

    Japan’s Yamaha Motor unveiled on Wednesday a zero-emission electric motor scooter for city use that it said could travel five times farther than a gasoline model for the same cost.
    http://www.physorg.com/news198329471.html

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    When the Brammo Empulse, successor to last year’s Enertia, goes on sale early next year it’ll be capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph with an average range of up to 100 miles.

    The Empulse puts out 55 HP and 59 Lb-Ft of torque while weighing just 390 Lbs. That should give it performance on par with a 650cc Suzuki Internal Combustion Engine motorcycle, which is to say it’ll accelerate faster than most sports cars.

    The big technology breakthrough here is the price-to-energy density ratio of the battery packs. While Brammo doesn’t plan to say much about the proprietary technology before the Empulse goes on sale early next year, expect some sort of Lithium Polymer chemistry.
    http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2010-07/brammo-empulse-new-100-mph-king-consumer-electric-motorcycles-sold-best-buy

  22. Freddy Smith says:

    America consumes 1,350 tons of coal in a bessimer process furnace to create one 850 ton large wind turbine steel tower.

  23. Ryan T says:

    I saw an industry group TV ad this weekend, touting that new plants can be built with carbon capture “in mind”. Of course, they did’t mention that we need cap & trade to give it any hope of being commercially feasible. I just hope the average American hasn’t been dumbed-down enough to take any old spin at face value, and that they come to realize that there’s an urgent need to push for a well-designed cap & trade system.

  24. Ryan T says:

    Freddy, I thought the U.S. pretty much stopped using the Bessemer process in the late 60’s? Regardless, what percentage of our total CO2 emissions come from steel production? I suspect it would still represent a good investment (vs., say, burning huge amounts of coal for the inefficient generation, distribution, and consumption of electricity) with a large net savings of CO2 over the life of that turbine.

  25. catman306 says:

    Dr. Schneider’s papers in Science alerted me to our predicament more than 20 years ago. Climate change predictions from that time are occurring right on schedule.. I’m sorry that Dr. Schneider died not knowing how this will work out for our civilization. We’ve lost a leader and a great scientist.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Freddy Smith,
    The Danish wind turbine industry is the world’s largest. Around 90 percent of the national output is exported, and Danish companies accounted for 38% of the world turbine market in 2003, when the industry employed some 20,000 people and had a turnover of around 3 billion euro
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Denmark

    At the end of 2009, wind power in China accounted for 25.1 gigawatts (GW) of electricity generating capacity, and China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country’s economy.

    Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_China

    On the bottom line part of the electricity used in manufacturing wind turbines is already from renewable energy – dependent on a nations energy portfolio.

  27. I doubt CCS will happen any time soon. Besides having to overcome the huge operating costs of collecting the CO2 from the products of combustion, recycling the ammonia used to collect the CO2, purifying and pressurizing the CO2 stream, piping it deep underground, and finally monitoring forever leakage from the CO2’s underground reservoir, a CCS scheme must overcome the public’s aversion to the permanent storage of billions of tons of a deadly gas! CO2 leakage in quantity onto the earth’s surface in a populated area can kill the exposed population in a couple of minutes. We have never built or operated a complete CCS plant. Pushing CCS is a desperate, doomed effort by a coal industry itself doomed to failure. Nuclear, solar thermal, hydro-power, and wind turbines will and must replace all coal burning because the exogenous environmental costs of coal power are too great; taking those costs into account makes coal power far more expensive than renewable power.

    I know this will cost an enormous industry its livelihood, but coal ming and coal burning cannot continue for the good of the planet and its inhabitants. The railroads and barges will survive hauling other commodities.

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Is Wind Power Green?
    alternatives holds marked environmental advantages over dirty oil and coal, none match wind power’s squeaky clean performance.

    “You can power the entire U.S. vehicle fleet if you converted it to electric with about 100,000 5-megawatt wind turbines,” Jacobson told Discovery News.

    The actual ground space required for such a project? According to Jacobson’s calculation, less than 2 square kilometers.
    http://news.discovery.com/tech/is-wind-power-green.html

  29. pete best says:

    Re #19 – do those vehicles exists NOW and in sufficient quantities to SCALE. No and No is the answer. As yet no zero emission vehicles exist (the source of the energy included) and thats that at present. 60 MPG, then 100 MPG hybrid and then electric oneday perhaps but not now. Batteries are just not of the suffcient quality to work as needed as yet.

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    Pete, 500.000 units is not that bad and Yamaha had started back in 2002 with EV-bikes. Than stopped because of battery problems – seems they fixed it. Beside this there are other companies with zero-emission vehicle-bikes (Post 20# covers one such “100 mpg bikes”, but in moderation cue).

    The source of energy has to be transitioned into a clean energy source, which you can have “now”, if you produce/buy energy from renewables.

    From the link post #19
    It will start exports to Taiwan and Europe in 2011, and forecasts total demand to reach 300,000 to 500,000 units by the mid-2010s as it expands into other markets, such as China.

  31. Raul M. says:

    An interesting idea from Think Progress is about-
    to often dealing with the problems of the system
    we have is often not done and the power of decision
    goes to the successor, but it would still be the
    same problem and the same choice to study for
    resolve or no.

  32. James Newberry says:

    CCS is an economic (20 cents more per kWh) and ecologic disaster in waiting, just what fossil and fission plutocrats in the USA enjoy. Obama simply regurgitates the agenda of his select corporate and investment bank advisers and apparently knows nothing of “energy.”

  33. Raul M. says:

    I was thinking about having an electric bike that
    is fast enough to keep up with traffic and enough
    solar and wind power to keep it powerful on occasion.

  34. Raul M. says:

    You know not being able to clean up after
    coal and gas sure get in the way of cleaning
    up after myself or having someone else do so
    for that matter.

  35. Leland Palmer says:

    I think that CCS technology is very good, and practical. It already exists, and is being done routinely for secondary oil recovery. The U.S. already has a network of supercritical CO2 pipelines, stretching mostly from natural sources of CO2 to oil fields.

    It’s coal itself that is very bad.

    We need a price on carbon to make CCS economic for coal plant operators to implement. We need to start planting biomass plantations, and transition from coal to biomass. Then we need to deep inject the CO2. We also need to collect every scrap of waste biomass and woody waste we can find, and deep inject the CO2 from that, too. This combination of biomass energy with CCS is known as BECCS. The wikipedia article on BECCS is very good, and the references quoted in it are terrific.

    Most CO2 avoidance efforts including all alternative energy projects now being implemented are slightly carbon positive. Coal is massively carbon positive.

    BECCS would be massively carbon negative.

    If we want to get to 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 within our lifetimes, we need to sequester carbon in one form or another. This could be carbon from biochar used as a soil ammendment, or supercritical CO2 from BECCS. Without a carbon negative technology, though, costs to get back to 350 ppm rise asymptotically to astronomical and impractical levels of spending. So, like it or not, if we want to solve this problem BECCS is inevitable, IMO.

    Global warming itself is the ultimate environmental disaster, IMO. At the high end, it could result in runaway global warming leading to a methane catastrophe, and extinction of most or all life on earth. So, if leaking CO2 acidifies some groundwater, well, at least we will be around to clean it up if we can turn the corner on runaway global warming.

    We should nationalize all of the coal fired power plants, and convert them to BECCS power plants. We should obtain the biomass or cellulosic waste from biomass plantations, dead trees in the forests, beetle killed trees, agricultural waste, sawmill waste, paper plant waste, urban woody waste and cellulosic trash, and human and animal manure.

    We should transport the biomass mostly by river transport, IMO. Most coal fired power plants are located on rivers and lakes for cooling water. Some of them are on navigable rivers like the Ohio and Mississippi river systems. Coal fired power plants located on rivers and lakes could accept biomass or compressed charcoal pellets from anywhere on the watershed upstream of their location.

    Most of our CO2 prevention efforts are like trying to drain a bathtub by running water into it more slowly. BECCS drains the tub, and could get us back to 350 ppm for a reasonable price, on the order of 6 to 10 trillion dollars, according to the references at the end of the wikipedia article on BECCS. This is far cheaper than other alternatives.

    To do all of this, a price on carbon is absolutely critical.

  36. Ryan T says:

    Leland, I hold out some hope that advances could be made, but it doesn’t look quite the same as pumping CO2 into an oilfield. That’s an enhancement of production/a net gain. And the cost itself is lower than trying to separate, transport, and permanently store many megatons of CO2 from a significant percentage coal-fired generators. So C&T is indeed vital. Of course, that would also give a leg up to other energy sources that don’t have the extra cost of CCS permanently attached.

  37. Raul M. says:

    That the mining of fuels in recent history distinguishes
    modern civilization from past time periods has become
    even more noticeable. But to the amount of co2 that needs
    to be returned to the depths, does it equal the tons of
    coal plus the barrels of petroleum mined during the modern
    minus the amount that has already fallen to the oceans.
    In looking at many of the natural forests, why don’t they
    just change the name to national pine groves. And yes they
    are way behind in planting pine or oak.

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2010/07/20/schneider-is-the-science-settled/

    Stephen Schneider talks about (nearly everything) and starting at minute 1:14:00 about Lovelock’s ECD Electron Capture Detector for Molecules – to observe CCS leaks.

  39. Raul M. says:

    Of yen and yang
    If mother earth manifests with father time and
    says “we don’t know how you all expect things to work
    when you have changed everything, put it all back if
    you want things to be fair weather.” Maybe our leaders
    of industry and government can just say ” but we can’t
    we burned it all and spilled some.”

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Albert Einstein : Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size. #Leaders and Leadership

  41. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Ryan T:

    Leland, I hold out some hope that advances could be made, but it doesn’t look quite the same as pumping CO2 into an oilfield. That’s an enhancement of production/a net gain. And the cost itself is lower than trying to separate, transport, and permanently store many megatons of CO2 from a significant percentage coal-fired generators. So C&T is indeed vital. Of course, that would also give a leg up to other energy sources that don’t have the extra cost of CCS permanently attached.

    Guy walks into the doctor’s office and says “Doc, it hurts when I move my arm like this”. The doctor says “Well, don’t move your arm like that!”.

    So, enhance the efficiency of the coal fired power plants, by going to a gas turbine combined cycle or biomass gassification technology when the retrofitting to BECCS is done. The good news is that can easily be done and can increase the thermal efficiency of the BECCS power plant from about 30 percent to roughly 50 percent.

    If there is a concern about cost, boost the efficiency of the combustion process, using oxyfuel combustion, combined cycles, or topping cycles and use the enhanced efficiency to pay for the conversion process.

    If there is a concern about leaking CO2, inject the CO2 differently, for example inject it into fractured basalt strata for in situ mineral carbonation, or into deep saline aquifers for very long term storage.

    If there is a concern about transportation of biomass, use river transport, and reduce the tonnage needed to be transported by carbonizing the biomass into compressed charcoal pellets before transport.

    If there is a concern about disturbing the forests when biomass is collected, well, change the way biomass is collected to disturb the forests less, or go to biomass plantations and agricultural waste, primarily.

    If there is a concern about the amount of pipeline or number of deep injection wells needed, well, that’s a silly concern, IMO. It’s just pipe. We already have deep injection wells that deep inject two billion gallons of brine per day, and most people have never heard of them:

    What is a Class II well?
    Class II wells inject fluids associated with oil and natural gas production. Most of the injected fluid is salt water (brine), which is brought to the surface in the process of producing (extracting) oil and gas. In addition, brine and other fluids are injected to enhance (improve) oil and gas production. The approximately 144,000 Class II wells in operation in the United States inject over 2 billion gallons of brine every day. Most oil and gas injection wells are in Texas, California, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

    According to my rough, back of the envelope spreadsheet calculations, that’s about one third of the volume of CO2 that would have to be injected per year by CO2 deep injection if we convert every coal fired power plant in the U.S. to BECCS- and most of us have never heard of these wells.

    When the fossil fuel industries want to do something, such as enhanced oil recovery, then it’s easy and routine, and we never hear about it. When they don’t want to do something, then according to them it is astronomically expensive, impractical, and so on. The coal industry doesn’t want to be regulated, so they exaggerate the costs and technological difficulties of CCS, and do so through a network of covertly funded studies which make assumptions that inevitably give the result they want to get- that the technology is too expensive.

    Yes, we need a price on carbon, primarily to get the industry moving toward BECCS, IMO.

    Or we just need to stop putting up with these greedy lying corporations, and seize the coal fired power plants and force their conversion to BECCS.

  42. JeandeBegles says:

    The tittle of this post recalls a basic statement. Without a carbon price, there will be no low carbon investments, such as CCS (if it ever could work).
    Without a carbon price, every new technical solution is wishfull thinking.