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CCS technology

The Four Corner’s show ‘The Coal Nightmare” screened last night. Most future GGEs come from burning coal and coal production will rise by at least 40% by 2030.  It would be desirable from Australia’s viewpoint to find an economically feasible technology to effect carbon capture and storage (CCS) in order to secure longer-term markets for our coal and to limit global heating.  The Four Corners show suggested that, whatever the ultimate prospects for CCS, commercial viability seems a long way off.

A key issue is whether pursuing this option is a bad bet for addressing climate change issues.  The cost estimates are rough but  they suggest that a carbon price of US$60 per US-ton is required to make CCS competitive. This would involve an increase in US electricity prices of 6c per kWh which would double the typical US industrial electricity price and increase retail residential electricity prices by 50% Similar price increases wouldbe expected in coal dependent countries such as Australia.

In the US a major project to create clean coal is FutureGen although this has a questionable future (Robert Merkel has a link at LP to this issue). In China a similar project is GreenGen.  Australia has demonstration programs – with a notable plant in the Otways – although this is nothing near a commercial application.

Indeed after a decade of talking there is no large-scale shovel-ready project in existence anywhere.  FutureGen will not become a reality before 2040.  China believes it will have a fully operating ‘clean coal’ fired power plant by the middle of the next decade but it doesn’t know how to store the captured CO2.

As the Garnaut Review pointed out, for a coal exporting country like Australia, this is grim news. The Labor government has given $2.4 billion dollars for research into clean coal but there is no project shovel-ready.

CCS is a potentially viable technology – it works but the issue is, as always, the cost. The wikipedia entry is a good start on this.

Update: This is interesting. Queensland to go ahead with CCS.

12 comments to CCS technology

  • […] to secure longer-term markets for our coal and to limit global heating. … Original post: Harry Clarke » CCS technology Share and […]

  • MAGB

    CCS too expensive and a long way off, the big solar project in Victoria gone broke, no nuclear power – just how will Australia reduce emissions?

    Perhaps Four Corners should have asked Minister Wong?

  • hc

    I don’t think you should write CCS off yet – the payoffs to Australia would be huge as pointed out in Garnaut. But yes it does look difficult. We must entertain other options.

  • hc: here is yet another post to which I sadly anticipate no response from you, but one lives in hope!

    1. CCS is a grotesque concept, involving as it does burning 30% more of a precious resource (coal) to achieve a pointless (CO2 is a benefice, not a pollutant), dangerous (CO2 at the 100% level you propose is deadly, check Mt Nyos on Google) and costly (CCS energy costs at least 30% more than coal fired energy).

    2. Your love of CCS derives from your failure to undertake minimal due diligence of the following issues;

    2.1 There has been no statistically proven “global” warming since 1900, even of the 0.7 oC claimed by Gistemp (most MET thermometers do not display more than changes of 1 oC in temps).

    2.2. Even the NOAA admits that before 1910 there was virtually NO coverage of 80% of the globe, with 99% of Africa wholly absent, Central America and SE Asia not much better. So you have no baseline data for your faith driven belief there has been any warming since 1850 (as claimed by the jackals of the IPCC like Matthew England of UNSW et al). Have YOU ever verified the statistical basis of the IPCC’s claims (2007, WG1, SPM) of “warming since 1850”? If not, why not? No doubt foolishly I thought your golf prowess indicated some decorum in accepting data claims – your acceptance of such dogma is no better than signing for a par 5 when you actually shot 8!

    2.3. As I have shown at Jen Marohasy’s blog, there is NO statistically significant evidence of ANY rise in temperature at Mauna Loa since 1958 despite the 24% rise in atmospheric CO2 [CO2] as measured there since 1958. Again, dear Harry, you are in danger of signing a false scorecard!

    2.4 The corollary of my (2.3) is that such “global” warming as may be detectable at any given place has NOTHING to do with [CO2] and is almost wholly attributable to human energy usage. That is obviously true of temps at Honolulu Airport or Hilo (a town at the bottom of Mauna Loa), whereas ML itself has no economic activity (with all due respect to Piet Tans) and thus no temperature rise.

    2.5 When I arrived at LSE in 1961 I was immediately directed by Lionel Robbins (my first supervisor) to read Popper’s “The Poverty of Historicism” with its Black Swan analogy. Why is it that Australian economists almost without exception have never read Popper, or if they have, failed to understand him? The absence of any detectable warming at Mauna Loa Observatory since its CO2 measurements began in 1958 is The Black Swan of AGW.

    2.6 However there may be some AGW, but where it exists it results exclusively from energy usage WHATEVER THE SOURCE of that energy (whether wind, solar, hydro, gas, nuclear, or coal is IMMATERIAL).

    2.7 The IPCC’s AR4 WG1 is the most delinquent report ever foisted on the world. Not only does it commit all the errors listed above, at no point does its Chap.9 (Climate Change Attribution) even mention energy usage. Whatever happened to the First Law of Thermal Dynamics, or the Second, with its corollary of entropy implying death for the planet if energy production is not sustained, as you propose?

    2.8 Just check your own electricity bill – here in Canberra ACTEW kindly tells me how much CO2 I am to be blamed for

    Apparently we used 20274 KWh of electricity in 2006-07 (we don’t use gas).

    ACTEW also says that generating my electricity produced 20.245 tonnes of CO2 or 5.5 tonnes of carbon, equal to


    parts per million of CO2 at Mauna Loa.

    Using the data in AR4 WG1 p.141, I find that accounts for Radiative Forcing (in watts per metre^2) of:


    So for our house of 266 sq.metres, we have a total RF of


    in watts per annum

    Now SJT and IPCC would have us believe that our RF of 1.01534E-08 watts p.a. has a larger warming effect than our annual electricity usage of

    20,274,000 Watt-hours

    Please check my sums, they are back of the envelope, but they seem plausible.

    2.9 If they right, when are Garnaut, Stern Hansen and hangers on like Quiggin et al going to wake up to the fact that as much as 70% of gross emissions is taken up every year by the global biota? The EPA estimates human CO2 emissions at c 2 GtC p.a. growing at over 1% p.a., with livestock fish etc good for another 2 GtC growing at quite a bit more than 1% p.a. (FAO). With fossil fuel and LUC emissions of over 10 GtC in 2008, and with Mauna Loa recording only an extra 3.3-3.4 GtC since 2008, the biota is taking up perhaps as much as 7 GtC p.a., or 70% of gross incremental human, livestock, fossil fuel, and LUC emissions.

    2.10 So as the above worthies call for nil or even negative emissions what then will happen to the incremental biotic uptakes of c 7 GtC p.a. when emissions are reduced to zero, with all that entails for world food production? Ah, I forgot, that will only affect the Wretched of the Earth, who as non-whites deserve what the energy cuts we plan to offer them at Copenhagen, unlike the Garnauts, Quiggins et al et al. with their comfortable lifestyles (and airtickets etc to Copenhagen) funded by us wretched taxpayers (eg Garnaut, Quiggin, Karoly et al have all received as much as A$2 million each for producing their unending drivel in recent years).

    Dear Harry, I realise that even allowing this post to stand reduces your chances of ever getting on that gravy train – and Turnbull’s prospects are not good while he acts like Rudd’s tea boy.

    But it would be nice to see just one Australian economist doing some basic homework along the lines suggested here.



  • hc

    The reason that you don’t get responses to your claims Tim is that they are contradicted by all mainstream science. 2.1 and 2.3, 2.4, 2.6 are strong claims that all climate science rejects.

    You raise point 2.9 repeatedly but the carbon cycle is a standard part of the mainstream science.

    The AMS state that waste heat contributes 1% of the anthropogenic heating effect of GGEs. Waste heat does create heat island effects in urban settings.

  • conrad

    “There has been no statistically proven “global” warming since 1900”
    How does one statistically prove something?

  • hc: My 2.1 claim is supported by the data I showed in 2.2: “Even the NOAA admits that before 1910 there was virtually NO coverage of 80% of the globe, with 99% of Africa wholly absent, Central America and SE Asia not much better. So you have no baseline data for your faith driven belief there has been any warming since 1850 (as claimed by the jackals of the IPCC like Matthew England of UNSW et al).” YOU have NEVER verified the statistical basis of the IPCC’s claims (2007, WG1, SPM) of “warming since 1850″. Your gullible acceptance of GISTEMP & HADLEY data is worse than signing for a par 5 when you actually shot 8!

    Then you offer no evidence to rebut my claim that there has been no discernible rising temperature trend at Mauna Loa Observatory since records began in 1955; I will email my graphs showing that to be the case, you can get the data for yourself from

    Use the scroll bar on the left and scroll down about half way, find the header Temperature (or Precipitation). Under that, find
    Monthly Temperature (Precipitation) Listing and click on “monthly totals”. This will give you a table of monthly and annual values for that station’s entire period of record.

    Then let me know your R2 and t stats for the correlation between the annual changes in [CO2] and temperature at Mauna Loa from 1958 to now; using absolute values fails the Durbin-Watson test, using changes passes.

    Saying “the science rejects” my 2.4 and 2.6 is armwaving given my data in 2.8.

    Likewise you have nothing but armwaving to contest my demonstration in 2.9 that reducing emissions to as little as 20% of the 2000 level, or less than 2 GtC, must reduce the 57% average take-up of CO2 emissions since 1958 by global sinks, mainly via photosynthesis (currently around 7 GtC p.a. as only 3.3 GtC is staying aloft at Mauna Loa). Do the sums ypourself, do not appeal to authority or “the science” as enshrined in Wiki, where you will also find this:
    “The electrical efficiency of thermal power plants, defined as the ratio between the input and output energy, is typically only 30%” So what happens to the 70%? How big is that relative to the warming from the trifling CO2 emissions from such power plants?

  • hc

    Tim, Warming since 1850 has been verified by many with statistical inclinations – here is a recent effort. These guys are top Australian econometricians.

    Quote on temperatures: “Our analysis shows that the upward movement over the last 130-160 years is persistent and not explained by the high correlation, so it is best described as a trend.”

    160 years back takes us back to 1850.

    You can disagree with this analysis but to ignore it (and numerous other studies) which make the same point and then to assert the contrary leaves me wondering.

    The Observatory at Mauna Loa measures CO2 trends and these vhave continued to rise. Global mean average surface temperatures are related to global CO2 emmission concentrations and the first link shows categorically that these have continued to rise too.

    Adding CO2 to the atmosphere is adding a stock of greenhouse gases that has ongoing effects on temperature. Waste heat effects are transitory.

    I could go but I am tiring of responding to what seem to be crank claims that are inconsistent with mainstream science. I believe the IPCC synthesises the findings of serious climate scientists who are respectful of the uncertainties and who are not communist greenies just eager to gain research grants.

  • Harry – I am gobsmacked! Do you really think that David Livingstone found the natives living along the Zambezi in 1860 sending daily temperatures to NOAA or its foreunner, by tom toms or what? If your “competenht” Australian statisticians (an oxymoron if what you say is correct) believe they have instrumental global coverage since 1850, you and they are certifiable. The NOAA unlike Hadley does provide maps (see examples in my Emeritus lecture last year at my website) of global instrumental surface temperature coverage since 1880, and by 1900 it was still only 20%. Where did your ‘competents’ (sic) source their data for central Africa in 1850? The South Pacific only came on board after 1910. When your competents’ baseline data excludes the world’s hottest areas until 1910 what basis do they have for the claim you and they make?

    I do not contest that Mauna Loa shows persistently rising CO2, at the “rapid” (?) rate of 0.4% p.a. since 1958. But I have just accessed that link I gave you, and by email I will attach my Excel file with regression results for changes in T and CO2 from 1960 to 1992, and 1960 to 2008, and 2 Figs. The Temp trend at ML to 2008 is DOWN, albeit not statistically significant. ML was chose as being pristine for CO2, and is equally so for temps. Truly that data set is a very Black Swan.

    You again appeal to “mainstream science” and add you doubt that they are just out to get research grants. I have noticed recent ARC grants to some of the leading local authors like Karoly with no visible output as yet. I have also observed at close quarters the avid and successful scrabbles of Will Steffen et al of the ANU here to provide whatever Ms Wong wants to hear. By its very name the IPCC proclaims a political agenda. Its failure even to mention energy production and consumption, let alone provide regression results quantifying the respective contributions of energy production (and/or usage)with CO2 to observed warming at specified locations is telling.

    Once again, if [CO2] has no discernible impact on temperatures at the very place that the [CO2] is measured, there is a lot wrong with the theory. Mine, that observed global warming is most closely identified with energy usage, has far more compelling statistical evidence to support it. But would you publish it?

  • hc

    Tim, You have evaded addressing the key issues. How do you reach contrary insights about trends since 1850 and about waste heat. The temp trend at a particular location is irrelevant to determining global temp changes.

    I don’t agree with youtr characterisation of IPCC. I have been reading the 3 reports. They seem impressively dispassionate.

  • hc: talk about evasion! how do you justify baseline “global” temperature in 1850 when there were then no Met. stations anywhere in Africa other than Cape Town (hardly representative of the Congo), and only a few more by 1900, while the whole of Central Africa was innocent of such until 1910 at earliest (I once worked with the East African Met Research Station in Nairobi). So what kind of statistician are you that the provenance of baseline data is no concern of yours?

    Re IPCC Reports, “seem” is not due dligence, have you personally checked any of their data sources? Clearly not those for their “Hottest since 1850” claims.

    I await your expert evaluation of the Mauna Loa temp. data I sent you by email. If that is not a huge Black Swan what would be? I already have support for my “CO2 is irrelevant” theorem from 2 recent papers in Geophysical Research Letters:

    1. Decadal to multidecadal variability and the climate
    change background
    David Parker,1 Chris Folland,1 Adam Scaife,1 Jeff Knight,1 Andrew Colman,1
    Peter Baines,2,3 and Buwen Dong4,5
    Received 12 January 2007; revised 22 May 2007; accepted 29 June 2007; published 28 September 2007.

    2. Secular temperature changes in Hawai‘i
    Thomas W. Giambelluca,1 Henry F. Diaz,1,2 and Mark S. A. Luke1
    Received 22 April 2008; accepted 7 May 2008; published 18 June 2008.

    Neither mentions atmospheric CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa (or anywhere else) as playing any role in the trends they analyse, as those are clearly the result of PDO and ENSO, which have nothing to do with CO2.

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