Further CCS Blow to Kingsnorth and Other Plants

As mentioned in our blog Blow to Emissions Claims for Kingsnorth and Other Plants, a recent report by Friends of the Earth (FOE) Denmark concluded the mitigation potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) on coal is insignificant.

In a further blow for the claims of CCS, Emirates Business 24-7 reports that a new study by Gary Shaffer, a professor at the Danish Centre for Earth System Science (DCESS), concludes the technology will not stop global warming.

Professor Shaffer points out in the new study, published by Nature Geoscience, that storing CO2 in the ocean will contribute to acidification of the sea – with dangers that reverberate up the food chain – and it carries a higher risk of being returned to the atmosphere by ocean currents and storms.  (Our blog Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem is aimed at helping to raise the profile of the ocean acidification issue.)

Professor Gary Shaffer

Professor Gary Shaffer, DCESS Director - his new study shows the development of CCS should not be used to justify continued high fossil fuel emissions.

The paper acknowledges underground storage is a better option but only if the geological chamber does not have a significant leak or is breached by an earthquake or some other movement because the CO2 will have to be stored for tens of thousands of years to avoid becoming a threat to future generations.  This means less than 1% of the stored volume can be allowed to leak from the chamber per 1,000 years.  To offset any bigger leak, re-sequestration would be required  far into the future with the associated cost burden (re-sequestration appears to me to be a vicious circle).

Professor Shaffer said, “The dangers of carbon sequestration are real and the development of CCS should not [my emphasis] be used as a way of justifying continued high fossil fuel emissions.  On the contrary, we should greatly limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for massive carbon sequestration and thus reduce unwanted consequences and burdens over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2.”

To find out more about the lack of certainty with which we can assess leakage or guarantee permanent storage of CO2, please read the Greenpeace International report Reality Check on Carbon Storage.

For an alternative energy strategy to fossil fuels with CCS and nuclear, please visit the Zero Carbon Britain web site.

David M. Davison

PS An envrionmentalresearchweb article also reports on the study by Professor Gary Shaffer.

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