Opinion – Carbon capture and storage: Hasn’t Alberta learned its lesson?

Posted: November 29, 2019 by oldbrew in Emissions, opinion

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) [credit: cnet.com]

The author points to a recent report on CCS in a science journal which found “that it reduces only a small fraction of carbon emissions, and it usually increases air pollution.” Or in layman’s terms, it’s a waste of time and money even for greenhouse gas theory devotees.

Politicians tend to use CCS as a distraction when they don’t have a workable plan, says Graham Thomson @ CBC News.
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

An Alberta cabinet minister walks into a news conference and praises the merits of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way to significantly reduce the province’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

Not much of a joke, I know.

It wasn’t funny when on October 8, 2009 Alberta Energy Minister Mel Knight declared of CCS, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is action, action that will have immediate results locally as it markedly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

And it wasn’t funny when this week Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon declared, “CCS is a technology that can capture and store up to 90 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions produced from using fossil fuels and electricity in industrial processes.”

It’s not funny because Alberta politicians seem to be looking once again to CCS as a magic bullet in the war against human-made climate change.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from a large industrial source (such as a coal-fired power plant or, in the case of this week’s news conference, a cement plant), compressing the gas into a fluid, transporting it by pipeline to a site and injecting it more than a kilometre underground.
. . .
In 2008, the Alberta government had such high hopes for CCS that it committed to spend $2 billion over 15 years for an anticipated five experimental projects to refine the technology.

The government predicted that by 2050, the province would be capturing and storing 140 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year — 70 per cent of its 200-million-tonne-a-year goal.

Alberta hoped not only to get credit for reducing its emissions locally, but also to receive praise for refining the technology that would help other countries reduce their emissions. Take that, Greenpeace.

High cost

However, company after company pulled out because of the costs involved. In 2014, Alberta’s auditor general Merwan Saher concluded that CCS would not solve Alberta’s greenhouse gas problem.

“We’ve learned in this period between 2008 and now that carbon capture and storage isn’t going to produce anything like 70 per cent. The best estimates of the moment, I think, are carbon capture and storage might produce 10 per cent of what was originally thought.”

Full article here.

  1. stpaulchuck says:

    “The problem is politicians who look to unproven technology in general and CCS in particular as simple solutions to a massively complex problem.”

    There is no problem to start with. The “complexity” only comes from the tap dancing, spinning, and obfuscation of that actual fact. Politicians are famous for ringing in bafflegab and duckspeak when the people begin to notice the emperor has no clothes.

  2. tom0mason says:

    “An Alberta cabinet minister walks into a news conference and praises the merits of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way to significantly reduce the province’s emissions of greenhouse gases. “

    Dear Alberta cabinet minister,
    Nature determines the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, not weak and ineffectual humans.
    The oceans, and the SST along with the pCO2 differential pressure will and has always determined how much CO2 will reside in the atmosphere.
    CCS and attempts at sequestering away such a tiny amount of CO2, considering how much nature commands, is evidence of the magnitude of hubris and stupidity infecting some Canadian minds.

    It is and always will be, a distraction and waste of tax-payers money.

  3. oldbrew says:

    tom – yes, but one must signal one’s climate virtue to appease the voters, or so they must think.

  4. Russ Wood says:

    I would like every politician and climate charlatan who promotes CCS to have a big sign on their wall: