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Dead and Buried: The demise of carbon capture and storage

Dead and Buried: The demise of carbon capture and storage

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Dead and Buried: The demise of carbon capture and storage
Dead and Buried: The demise of carbon capture and storage

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Greenpeace Australia Pacific on May 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/15/2012

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 April 2012
1
 
DeaD anD burieD: 
The demise of carboncapture and storage
© Greenpeace
 
2 The Demise of Carbon Capture and Storage
Time’s up for CarbonCapTure anD sTorage
However, the reality is that CCS hasbeen an abject failure. Every attemptto construct a large-scale projecthas fallen over, revealing numeroustechnical, economic, social andregulatory risks that should soundalarm bells for potential investors. As the risks mount, the timeframefor when commercial-scale CCSpower stations arrive slips furtherover the horizon.Even one-time advocates of CCShave begun to dismiss the technology.Former Energy and Resources MinisterIan Macfarlane had supportedCCS as a member of the HowardGovernment, but said in 2009:“The reality is, you are not going to see
another coal-red power station built
in Australia. … You can talk all the stuff you like about carbon capture storage,that concept will not materialise for20 years, and probably never”. This report describes the numerousrisks that are preventing commercial-scale CCS power stations from everbecoming a realistic energy option.It shows how these risks have beenborne out as the coal industry hasattempted to make CCS happen. The report then draws on researchconducted for Greenpeace by theInstitute of Sustainable Futures,University of Sydney
4
, demonstratingthe immense economic and technicalundertaking that would be required if government aspirations for CCS werebased in reality. Australia is one of many countriesfaced with the challenge of reducingcarbon pollution while replacing
an aging eet of power stations.
Decisions will be made in thecoming years that determine ourenergy future for decades to come.CCS has proven itself to be a usefulpublic relations exercise for the coalindustry, buying a few more preciousyears of social acceptance andallowing new dirty power stations tocontinue to be built. But the charadecannot be allowed to continue. This report makes is clear that thegame is up. The CCS myth wasalways a dangerous distractionfrom real, clean, renewable energysolutions. It needs to be laid torest once and for all. And, havingpronounced it dead and buried,we need to accept that there is nosuch thing as “clean coal” and theonly safe energy future requires arapid shift from coal to renewables– nationally and internationally.
 A few years ago you could beexcused for thinking that a new erawas beginning for coal technology. As awareness grew of the impactof carbon pollution on the world’s
climate, coal-red power faced
an “adapt or die” moment. What
followed was a urry of activity:
announcements of pilot projects,
impressive websites and slick marketing gave the impression
that the coal industry was hard at
work developing Carbon Captureand Storage (CCS) technology.
Some bold claims were made
about the potential of CCS. One
prediction stated that “by 2030,
CCS could be one of the most
important carbon abatementtechnologies
1
”. The InternationalEnergy Agency projected the
construction of 3,400 CCS projects
across the globe (i.e. 90 per year 
on average) by 2050 in order tohalve global carbon pollution
2
.
Images from www.newgencoal.com.au/carbon-capture-and-storage.aspx and www.globalccsinstitute.com/ccs/what-is-ccs
   ©    G  r  e  e  n  p  e  a  c  e
“The reality is, you are not going to see another coal-red power station
built in Australia. … You can talk all the stuff you like about carboncapture storage, that concept will not materialise for 20 years, and
probably never 
3
 
– Former Energy and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane, 9th November 2009
 
 
 April 2012
3
Developing CCS at commercialscale would require overcomingnumerous major challenges.
Costs are prohibitively expensive.
Coal power with CCS would be oneof the most expensive options forgenerating electricity. Power stationcapital costs would be 2½ timesthat of concentrating solar powerand more than 4 times that of windpower (see chart below).
Too risky forserious invesTmenT
Coal industry investment in CCS
has been scant, reecting a lack of condence in the technology
overcoming the many risks and hurdlesit faces. Instead of investing heavilyin CCS, the coal industry has largelyrelied on public funding to supportprograms and projects. The carbon price is too low to drivecommercial investment towardsCCS. Dick Wells, Chairman of theNational Low Emissions Coal Council,recently remarked that the carbonprice is not high enough to driveinvestment towards Carbon Captureand Storage and that in the absenceof a carbon price signal, “companieswith shareholders – I mean, peoplehave their superannuation with thesecompanies – aren’t going to do thingswhich aren’t sensible economically
11
”.However, other technologies that willnot be driven by a carbon price suchas wind and solar attracted over $5billion in investment in Australia during
the 2010-11 nancial year
12
. Privateinvestment in renewable energy is atleast one order of magnitude greaterthan in CCS.In Australia, the coal industryhas committed $1 billion to CCSover 10 years, equivalent to only1% of the black coal mining
industry’s pre-tax prot from
2002 – 2010
13
(see graphic toright) and less than thefederal government’s CCSFlagships program. TheEuropean Union’s NER 300policy, the main vehicle forsupporting CCS projects,is expected to generate€4.5 billion, matched bya combination of memberstates and industry funding
14
.In the United States, projects supportedby funds from the American Recoveryand Reinvestment Act have beenallocated nearly twice as much publicfunding as industry is providing
15
. Thisreveals a lack of belief from the coalindustry that CCS is a genuine optionfor generating power at commercialscale with low carbon pollution.
Black Coal mining pre-tax
prots from 2002 - 2010
($ billions)Coal Industry committmentto CCS investment over10 years ($ billions)
CCS is highly energy intensive.
Capture and compression technologywould consume up to a third of apower station’s output, meaning that forevery three power stations operatingwith CCS, another would have to beconstructed just to maintain overallelectrical supply
6
.
Safe storage cannot be guaranteed.
Geological formations must at a minimumbe perfectly sealed with a cap rock andbehave as expected by modelling.However, several established fuel recoveryprojects have revealed that very little isunderstood of actual CO
2
movementsonce injected underground
7
.
Climate change action to outstripthe need for CCS.
CCS is not expected to becomeavailable at commercial scale until atleast 2020, by which point alternativesto polluting power will already need tobe in mass production.
Limitations to storage capacity.
Early estimates of CO
2
storage
capacity were grossly oversimplied
and likely to have produced unreliabledata
8
. One study suggests storagecapacities have been out by a factor of between 5 and 20, rendering “geologicsequestration of CO
2
a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO
2
emissions
9
.” The Kwinana project in Western Australia was cancelled after it wasfound that the proposed CO
2
storagelocation could not be relied upon
10
.
Wind Solar Thermal IGCC plantwith CCS IDGCC plantwith CCS
0200040006000800010000
Capital Cost in 2015 ($/Kw)
5
IDGCC – Integrated Drying Gasication and Combined Cycle
 
IGCC – Integrated Gasication and Combined Cycle

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