Following the UK Budget, 22 April 2009, the UK Government announced the following measures to encourage CCS development within the UK:
“No new coal without CCS demonstration from day one.”
“Full scale retrofit of CCS within five years of the technology being independently judged as technically and commercially proven.”
The Government also uses the term 'clean coal' to denote carbon capture. 'Clean Coal' is a politically-loaded term. It implies that any other way of burning coal is undesirable.
This is very far from the truth.
Bearing in mind that a country's industry needs abundant, affordable energy, the government announcement is difficult to comprehend.
Carbon dioxide levels have been linked to global climate, without supporting evidence.
If carbon capture is implemented, it is likely to lead to a catastrophic increase in electricity price.
DOES THE TECHNOLOGY EXIST?
On a small scale, yes. There are a handful of carbon capture schemes associated with gas fields. For example:
The Lacq gas processing unit in S.W. France injects about 0.06M tonnes of carbon dioxide per year underground.
The Salah gas field in Algeria injects about 1.2M tonnes of carbon dioxide per year into the depleted gas reservoir.
The Snohvit offshore gas field, Norway, stores about 0.7M tonnes per year.
However, these are extremely small schemes compared with what would be needed if carbon capture and storage ever became widely practised in the UK.
HOW MUCH CARBON DIOXIDE WOULD BE INVOLVED?
The coal used in the UK to generate electricity is about a million tonnes per week.
If we assume coal is carbon, and use this equation, and the atomic weights:
C + O2 --> CO2 12 gms + 32 gms --> 44 gms
we see that 12 grams of coal forms 44 grams of carbon dioxide.
Each tonne of coal therefore produces 44/12 or about 3.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
So the carbon dioxide output of the UK, from coal, is 1,000,000 x 3.7
or 3.7 milliion tonnes per week.
Multiply by 52 - it comes to 192 million tonnes per year.
This is two orders of magnitude bigger than current commercial schemes. A hundred times larger.
No-one has done it before.
I have been unable to find any evidence for 'economy of scale'.
One of Norway’s flagship Carbon Capture and storage (CCS) projects is run by the state-owned gas company, Gassco. It has revealed that the estimated costs have tripled from £0.4 billion in 2007 to £1.2bn now.
“The CCS costs are big and higher than we initially thought,” said Sigve Apeland from Gassco.
The company is trying to capture, transport and store just 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the Naturkraft gas-fired power plant at Kårstø.
CALCULATING WHAT WE'LL HAVE TO PAY:
(1)AS A COUNTRY
If we take the figure from the last section, and scale it up to 192 milliion tonnes per year - the amount of carbon dioxide that the UK government actually wants to store - this gives an estimate of £1.2 x 192/1.1 billion.
-which is about £209 billion pounds, per year, every year.
If we take the UK population as 70 million, the price per person (not per household) would be
£209,000,000 / 70,000,000
-which comes to £2,980. That, incidentally, doesn't include the price of the energy itself. You'll have to pay energy bills on top.
Someone tell me that the policy formers are joking......
I suggest that politicians and policy-formers were allocating their own money to such a project, it would have been abandoned long ago.
However, adopting this unproven technology is government policy.
If you don't like it, make your feelings known to your elected representative.