Cameron says CCS technology ‘not working’ 

Posted: January 13, 2016 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, government, News

No CCS please we're British [image credit: BBC]

No CCS please we’re British [image credit: BBC]

So the much-vaunted carbon capture idea for thermal power stations is an economic and technological dud – who knew? PEI reports from Westminster.

British Prime Minister David Cameron clarified the government’s position on carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) when appearing before a House of Commons Liaison Committee on Tuesday evening.

He denied that the Treasury had tied his hands on climate policy and also took issue when questioned why the UK had slipped down the rankings in terms of renewable energy, calling it ‘total and utter nonsense.’

The government had been accused of creating confusion on the subject of CCS as a result of mixed messages in recent weeks from the Prime Minister and energy secretary Amber Rudd. Mr Cameron had previously said CCS was “absolutely crucial” for the UK, so the decision to scrap a £1bn competition for a large-scale trial CCS plant is being criticised by MPs.

Meanwhile Rudd had spoken of the technology’s ‘important future.’ In response to the question ‘Why did you scrap carbon capture and storage investment despite promising to put £1bn into it?’ put forward by the Scottish Nationalist Party’s Angus MacNeil, the Conservative leader dismissed his suggestion that with the government ‘one hand did not know what the other hand is doing.’

Mr Cameron said the last two governments had ‘poured money into these new technologies.’ “At the moment, it seems to me that with carbon capture and storage, while I completely believe in the idea, the technology is not working. CCS is £1bn of capital expenditure, £1bn that we could spend on flood defences, schools or the health service. Even after you’ve spent that £1bn, that doesn’t give you CCS that is competitive in the market. The government hoped the costs would come down. But they did not.”

Full report: Cameron says CCS technology ‘not working’ – Power Engineering International

  1. oldbrew says:

    Cameron: “CCS would still cost £170 per megawatt hour. That compares with nuclear energy costing £90, or onshore wind costing £70…. we are confident that the mix we have committed to in gas nuclear and renewables.”

    No sign of expensive offshore wind, or solar power, in those numbers :/

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    I would guess, if you don’t have coal fired power plants, you don’t need CCS.
    1 billion saved! Something even a politician can grasp.
    Really? Well at least he hinted nuclear might have future acceptable value…pg

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    One Nuclear Power Plant could provide more power then all the windmills built and do it for less total cost. A real solution! Ecoloons won’t like that…pg

  4. AlecM says:

    CCS is a busted flush; firstly because amine absorption or the CaCO3 cycle foe existing power plant is just 40% efficient, secondly because the pumping cost for the 105 Bar liquid CO2 to the depleted oil reservoirs is prohibitive and thirdly because you must considerably increase the number of ‘wells’ into those reservoirs to minimise those pumping costs. That would be at much higher cost (~5 x higher, new investment) than the present N Sea installations.

    Building new liquid O2 fed coal power stations would make the separation irrelevant, but there is still the enormous pumping cost and the EU would stop their construction. You could however retrofit CCGTs with liquid O2 plants, but it’s still Big Engineering and £1 billion is the 1% down payment, so I imagine that CMD would rather have HS2!

    Declaration: I worked on two major international CCS programmes, one of which was developing the IGCC concept, so have a certain ‘feel’ for the nature of the engineering problem; we were developing membrane processes; much more efficient.

  5. ralph ellis says:

    And nobody in the fantasy Greenery world has addressed the Lake Neos problem with CCS. One large blowout in a North Sea CCS well, would extinguish all life along the British east coast (or in Holland). Is anyone out there thinking??

  6. AleM says:

    There is no ‘blowout problem’. At 3,000 ft below sea level, = 105 Bar, CO2 is a liquid.

    The problem is pumping costs!

  7. ralph ellis says:

    >>There is no ‘blowout problem’. At 3,000 ft below
    >>sea level, = 105 Bar, CO2 is a liquid.

    The oil below the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was also a liquid 1,000m below sea level, but it still came to the surface under great pressure. And when the CO2 arrives at the surface (even when below the sea) it will gassify and spread out across the North Sea as an invisible, deadly, ground-hugging miasma, that extinguishes everything in its path.

    Everything this cloud touched, would die, including millions of people in coastal communities. So what have the Greens done to address this problem, bar bury the information and cover it up? Do they want everyone to die in the name of being Green?


  8. tallbloke says:

    It has happened to many communities living near volcanically active regions.

  9. ralph ellis says:

    And here is the Lake Nyos disaster, which killed nearly 2,000 people. Is this what the Greens want to happen to coastal communities up and down the North Sea? Remember that CO2 does not dispurse very easily, it merely creeps along the ground until it hits the next town.

    So why will the BBC not tell us about the dangers, eh? We all know that the BBC is deeply biased in Green matters, but what is their real agenda?


  10. ralph ellis says:

    Roger Harrabin, the BBC energy correspondent, is so deeply Green outside and Red inside, he is a true watermellon believer. And yet he refuses to answer any of the climate/energy questions put to him. He too praised Carbon Capture (CCS) but refuses to say how costal communities will be kept safe.

    Roger Harrabin


  11. AlecM says:

    @Ralf Ellis: Oil contains dissolved alkanes, mostly methane, which gasify as the pressure is reduced. The Deepwater Horizon well had penetrated a reservoir whose pressure was higher than that of sea water at the seabed. So, when the wellhead failed, the alkanes outgassed violently.

    The cure for the problem was to reinject bentonite clay into the well to a depth which, with the seawater pressure, stopped the outgassing, then add concrete to form a solid, permanent plug.

    CO2 injected into a depleted oil reservoir displaces seawater. The pressure of the liquid CO2 is equal to the pressure of the upper level of the liquid CO2. So long as that is below the ~100 Bar level, the CO2 remains liquid. This would change if the temperature was much higher than ambient, e.g. very deep Brazilian well.

  12. ralfellis says:

    >>So, when the wellhead failed, the alkanes outgassed violently.

    And you think liquid CO2 will not do the same? Tell me – what happens when you open a bottle of Coke?


  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    Any deaths do to a CO2 blowout would be a feature to an Ecoloon. There are, after all, far too many people around anyway…pg

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    The financial object to CCS is down hole injection into old oil fields to improve further recovery and get paid for it. Just one more suck at the public teat…pg

  15. AlecM says:

    @ralfllis: you need to study Physical Chemistry. The pressure in an oil reservoir is high because it has formed from closed geological processes. Tap a hole into it, and the alkanes bubble out. I knew the guy who invented the way to flare off that gas in a short flame from the N Sea.

    Empty the reservoir, pump in liquid CO2 and its pressure is set by the depth of water to the upper level of the liquid CO2. This has to exceed about 3000 feet to keep the CO2 liquid.

    If you were to stop pumping in more CO2 and cut off the entry tube, there would be no change of state of the single component liquid. Your comparison with a bottle of Coke is wrong.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Hi Alec. The North sea is on average around 300 feet deep, not 3000. So the CO2 would have to be kept under a higher pressure than the head of water can supply. How well can we plug the entry tube, and how impermeable is the substrate?