New Report: Carbon Capture and Sequestration a Pipe Dream

New Report: Carbon Capture and Sequestration a Pipe Dream
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Have you been feeling a little cynical about the “clean coal” lobby’s claims that we can simply and neatly bury our greenhouse gas emissions and forget about them?

A comprehensive, in-depth report was released yesterday by Greenpeace International called “False Hope: Why Carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate.” The bottom line, as I’ve written here on DeSmog before, is that the timeline is just too long for Carbon Capture and Sequestration to have the desired affect on greenhouse gas emissions.

The likeliest year we will see any commercially viable CCS will be 2030. And that’s pie in the sky according to Oil-giant Shell who “doesn’t foresee CCS being in widespread use until 2050.”

Here’s some of the facts from the Greenpeace report, these make great crib notes sheet when you’re out and about in the “clean coal” blogosphere:

CCS cannot deliver in time to avoid dangerous climate change.
The earliest possibility for deployment of CCS at utility scale is not expected before 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not expect CCS to be commercially viable until at least 2050.

CCS wastes energy
The technology uses between 10 and 40% of the energy produced by a power station. Wide scale adoption of CCS is expected to erase the efficiency gains of the last 50 years and increase energy consumption by one-third.

CCS is expensive
It could lead to the doubling of plant costs, and an electricity price increase of 21-91%.

“Capture Ready” coal plants is greenwash
CCS is being used as an excuse by power companies and utilities to push ahead with plans to build new coal-fired power plants branding them as “capture ready.” Promises to retrofit are unlikely to be kept. Retrofits are very expensive and can carry such high efficiency losses that the plants become uneconomical.

Storing carbon underground can have unintended consequences
The world has no experience in the long term storage of anything, let alone CO2. A 2006 United State Geological Survey (USGS) filed experiment showed there is every chance that carbon dioxide will behave in ways that are totally unexpected. The researchers were surprised when the buried C02 dissolved large amounts of the surrounding minerals responsible for keeping it contained.

CCS is environmentally risky
Environmental risks include:

  • Reservoir leakage: the slow long-term release of C02 from storage sites
  • Sudden catastrophic leakage (remember when 1,700 were killed at Lake Nyos, Cameroon in 1986?)
  • Escape of C02 and associated substances into shallow groundwater

The full report and the executive summary are attached.

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New Report: Carbon Capture and Sequestration a Pipe Dream

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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