Blow to Emissions Claims for Kingsnorth and Other Plants

A new report by Friends of the Earth (FOE) Denmark says that governments and institutions have greatly overstated the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to curb greenhouse gases and asserts that, even if widely deployed, it would only avoid a small fraction of global warming emissions from coal-fired power plants by mid-century.

The significance of this new report is that it considers the actual aggregate effect on the climate system: “It is important to look not only at a snapshot of “one facility” or of one year in the future (e.g. 2030, 2040 or 2050) but the whole film, i.e. the whole period from now and until 2050.  Viewing carbon capture and storage in relation to the available carbon budget will reveal the overall effect of applying the technology.”

The report mentions CCS will be so expensive that there will be a pressure to keep the plants running around the clock – in other words, they cannot play a balancing role in a system with a large part of renewables like sun and wind and the large base load will limit the room for renewables.

Kingsnorth

The Exisiting Kingsnorth Power Station

In addition, the report touches on the social, health and environmental problems that are connected with the use of fossil fuels, pointing out they will increase due to the extra energy consumption needed for CCS.  Another factor commented upon, but which has received little attention elsewhere, is the severe increase in water consumption and water withdrawal that makes CCS an unsuitable option in inland China, India, Australia, South Africa, USA and Spain where water shortages are already a serious problem.

The report’s conclusions are eye-opening, even for people who do not believe CCS is part of the solution:

  • The mitigation potential of CCS on coal is insignificant.  Only 11% of the cumulative emissions before 2050 will be avoided [my emphasis].
  • Emissions of 356 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 to the atmosphere despite a fast deployment of CCS will burst the 2 degree Celsius CO2 budget.
  • CCS cannot contribute to bring down the global emissions in time to avoid a 2 degree Celsius increase in global temperature.  In the next 20 years, only 7 Gt CO2 will be avoided despite deployment of CCS.
  • CCS has no place in a sustainable energy future because it relies on continued use of fossil fuels and has a negative interaction with the elements of a renewable low energy system.

Our May blog about Kingsnorth details some of the health issues associated with coal and mentions some of the other problems with CCS.

It is long overdue for governments and power companies around the world to stop pushing technologies such as CCS as part of the solution for climate change and, instead, embrace energy efficiency and renewables.

David M. Davison

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2 Responses to “Blow to Emissions Claims for Kingsnorth and Other Plants”

  1. According to an article on the Alibaba.com web site, who quote the source as Reuters, the world is failing to meet goals to develop carbon capture technology. At a summit in Japan two years ago, eight of the world’s leading economies backed a goal to launch 20 large-scale projects to demonstrate CCS by 2010 – in fact there were only five such projects in operation, all commissioned before the 2008 summit. None of those existing projects tested the full chain of CCS processes.

    The International Energy Agency estimates that about 100 CCS large-scale projects are needed worldwide by 2020, about half in developing countries.

    This is a link to the full article:
    http://news.alibaba.com/article/detail/energy/100329580-1-global-carbon-capture-plans-lag.html

    David M. Davison

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