In a recent post I discussed the problems that the EU flagship programme to demonstrate CCS (carbon capture and storage) is having. With an allowance surplus building up in the ETS and a resulting low carbon price, the urgent need for commercial deployment of CCS has diminished. Furthermore, with natural gas availability growing and renewable energy becoming a sizable factor in the EU electricity mix, it may be well into the 2020s before large scale deployment of CCS is actually needed.
These developments might instill a false sense of security, in that we imagine there is no need to do anything now with regards large scale CCS commercialization. While it is clear that there is no immediate need for rapid rollout, every low carbon energy scenario still shows CCS as an essential component of energy delivery. In a posting late last year, I argued that global emissions are unlikely to be reduced at all without CCS.
Even with widespread deployment starting as late as 2030, action in this decade is still important. Early demonstration and commercialization of new technologies can be a long process. Take for example Shell’s own experience with Gas to Liquids technology. A very large scale plant is now operating successfully in Qatar, but the advanced catalysts used in the process started development in the 1980s and the small commercial scale demonstration plant in Malaysia was an early 1990s development. A final investment decision for the first full commercial deployment was made in 2006 and even then construction and startup took five years. A 10-20 year timeline for first commercial deployment is not unusual, which is one of the reasons why it takes 25+ years for new energy technologies to become globally material (>1% of the energy mix). I discussed this in a post back in late 2009.
All this still points to the need for some CCS activity in Europe this decade and for project development to proceed next decade for startup around 2030 (at the very latest). It may also be the case that a need for deeper cuts in emissions brings CCS forward.
The question of how to promote CCS activity today, in the midst of difficult economic times and carbon markets that are clearly not calling for it, is discussed in a new report issued today by the European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP).The ZEP report, Creating a Secure Environment for Investment in Europe, looks comprehensively at short (through to 2020), medium (the 2020s) and long term (post 2030) measures. In the short term the focus must be on recalibrating the ETS, but the report also calls for a number of the measures similar (but not necessarily identical) to those being implemented in the UK as part of the Electricity Market Reform. CCS Feed-In Tariffs, CCS Purchase Contracts and CCS Capacity Payments are all discussed. These measures could also continue in some form into the 2020s, but securing early clarity on 2030 and 2040 EU carbon targets is seen as the key priority for the medium term. For the longer term, the 2050 emissions target is the key driver, but the introduction of an auction reserve price for ETS allowances post 2030 would provide investment certainty for large scale project decisions made in the 2020s. Such investments would be exposed to the prevailing carbon price in the 2030s and beyond.
The EU has put considerable effort into stimulating CCS, but the goal of early demonstration has proved to be intractable. The ZEP report provides some further thinking on the issue and because of the ZEP constituency, is backed by industry, academia and NGOs.
GTL is actually commercial programme. It converts nearly worthless gas to valuable liquid hydrocarbons. Once the price of oil was right the development was inevitable. And there is more to come in unconventional oil&gas. CCS converts worthless inert gas into stored worthless inert gas using valuable energy. That’s why nobody is interested without government subsidy. I think that most knowledgeable people know that UK government is broke. How you can expect that somebody pays for CCS? Shell has some money to spare for research but CCS is so bad that it can never be commercial. Any government can change their mind quickly (due elections). We don’t even know whether EU survives next few years.
There can be no CO2-AGW because by ~200 ppmV, this GHG is in ‘IR self-absorption’. It’s basic physics the IPCC has failed to consider. Also the GHE is fixed for a water planet by the first few 100 ppmV of water vapour. The mechanism is subtle and probably involves switching off band emission at the Earth’s surface.
So, the great IPCC ‘consensus’ is total bunkum because the IPCC made 5 mistakes in the science. However, there is still the issue of the effect of extra CO2 on the oceans, and it’s not just pH. Once you get past the CO2 – T issue, which does not exist, you explain the end of ice ages by biofeedback via clouds.
Since we could have a CO2 effect on the selection of phytoplankton, we might well have to sequester CO2 on an emergency basis to stop us heading rapidly into a new ice age. Please thank retired real scientists now taking over from the amateurs in climate pseudo-science.
In other words you have realised that terrifying the population into incorrectly believing that oxidizing fossil fuels for energy alters the climate was an albatross.
OK, I’m going to be offtopic again. I’m not quite sure what turnedoutnice means by “IR self-absorption”. I hope it is not “saturation effect”. Regarding water vapour effect I agree that IPCC models can’t model it properly so that they over predict climate sensitivity. My opinion is that CO2 has warming effect on the climate but it is likely much smaller than IPCC predicts.
End of ice ages can’t be explained only by (whatever) feedback. Something must have caused it. What it was? What is your basis to say that phytoplankton can cause a new ice age? How this can happen? The most common theory is that quaternary glacial cycles are tied to astronomical cycles as is the case with all other climate cycles (daily, monthly, annual, 22y solar, interholocene cycles etc.). If you detect a cyclic behaviour in climate it certainly is of astronomical origin. Current climate science is not advanced enough to understand basic behaviour of the Earth climate. Even ENSO is still a mystery. How on Earth somebody wants to predict climate for hundreds of years when we have such big holes in our understanding? IPCC is making it worse with their political agenda skewing the science. They attempt to suppress IPCC opponents. They still cite alternative hypothesis in the body of IPCC but it won’t ever make it in to the summary. Unfortunately, politicians and people like David never go beyond the summary.
Not sure what you mean by “people like David”, but I can assure you that I have read more than my fair share of papers and research work on these issues. The fact that I have arrived at a different view of the issue to you is perhaps what is troubling you.
With regards the end of the ice age, I recently read an interesting paper which highlighted the important role of CO2 and feedback mechanisms. Yes, the turning point was the orbital behaviour of our planet, but after that warming was (according to this paper) accelerated by a growing level of CO2 in the atmosphere, released from the oceans as they warmed.
Thanks for the article, David. It’s a shame (if not unexpected) that the first commenters are so often keen to debate the wrong topic…
Anyway, back to CCS. Is there any broader scheme to link up efforts in Europe with those in other countries/regions that are also interested? For example, China has engineering muscle, a fleet of new coal power stations on the books, and healthier outlook for economic growth. Last time I heard they were trying out CCS. Given the scale and importance of the technology (and the different variants of CCS technology likely to be required for different coal & gas plants) surely there’s an argument for a global-level ZEP?
There are a number of multi-lateral processes underway to try to achieve linkage, the two most important being the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (funded by Australia by international by design) and the CCS workstream which operates within the Clean Energy Ministerial process. The UK based Carbon Capture and Storage Institute also has international outreach.
The fact that you have different opinion doesn’t trouble me. That’s quite normal. Vast majority of people have quite different opinion. The normal way is to discuss these differences. Also in science it is common to have different opinion with highest arbiter being an experiment. IPCC has changed that. First – they try to suppress different opinions to arrive to artificial consensus. Second – they replaced experiments with climate models. This is justified with political agenda to “save the Earth” and to “protect environment”.
Your comment about ice age demonstrates your (lack of) understanding quite well. I agree that CO2 concentration has some effect on warming the planet. However, this effect is quite small and certainly can’t cause any runaway global warming. IPCC acknowledges this fact and they add water vapour feedback on surface temperature which allegedly causes runaway warming. This feedback works on any warming regardless of what caused it.
However, there is a problem with this logic. The climate shows much stronger forces in play on all time scales. On scale of months the Earth climate is able to cool down quickly regardless of amount of CO2 and water vapour feedback. This happens after every El Nino event. On scale of decades we have seen clear cooling events around 1970. On multi century scale this happened in 16th century called little ice age and it is repeated over the whole Holocene with many periods similarly warm to our present climate optimum. Also every interglacial ends followed by another glacial regardless of
CO2 concentration and amount of water vapour feedback. Although CO2 is distributed evenly around the globe many parts have completely different temperature trends. Why the North Hemisphere is warming faster than the South one? Even north oceans were warming faster. But, where is the runaway warming? There is no sign of acceleration in any climate related trend. There are no easy answers to above questions and you certainly won’t find them in IPCC or their models.
If the runaway warming exists than limiting CO2 won’t help anyway. If it doesn’t exist than mankind will run out of cheap fossil fuel before any significant damage to the Earth can be done. Actually, increased CO2 has also some benefits which could overweight any potential negatives which are hard to see anyway.
Climate extremes are bound to stay with us regardless whether we pay twice as much for the power using CCS or from wind turbines. E.g the place where I live is plagued with cold and wet weather all this year while we enjoyed several great summers years before. However, the worst of all is worsening economic situation due to the rise of energy cost (due to the green energy mandates), rise of public debt and excessive regulation. Climate has very little to do with this. But, CO2 production might be the culprit. It used to be an indicator of economic strength and the CO2 production is dropping in the developed countries. Maybe it is not a good idea to strain the economy even further with more CO2 taxes.
Regarding the feedbacks I forgot to mention that there are other major feedbacks -mainly those changing albedo. High albedo glaciers left mid latitudes in Holocene and were replaced with tundra or forests with lower albedo. Recently, there are also anthropogenic climate forcing beyond GHG as land use changes and production/deposition of black carbon. This further marginalizes CO2 effect on climate. Changing CO2 concetration probably has far lower effect than ETS proponents advertise. Money on ETS or carbon tax is just wasted money.
Steve, regarding situation in China the black carbon, fine particles, SOX and NOX have much stronger environment impact than CO2. Therefore, building modern and proven more efficient and less polluting coal plants is much more cost efficient and environment friendly than investing in unproven, inefficient and uneconomical CCS. The nuclear power can’t be simply build quickly enough even in China and domestic gas production is still too small.
Regarding situation in US the natural gas seems to be the energy of choice. It is cheap and available in short term. In EU the choice is dominated by ideology. The remaining reserves of coal and gas are unpopular to explore and exploit not talking about PR war against nuclear power. Wind and solar energy is not economical while imported fossil fuel is expensive and economically damaging. The solution for industry is to flee to more energy friendly countries. CCS can just produce more expensive and inefficient energy. I don’t think this is sustainable and everybody knows that. Even lobbyists and bureaucrats know that but they just have to carry on. It is their job. Remember the biofuel fiasco? It is sort of subsidy for farmers but I fail to see whom do you want to subsidy with CCS. Carbon traders and energy industry? CCS is perfectly possible from engineering point of view. It just doesn’t give any sense. If I’m against it I just want to protect humanity from making another step in wrong direction. But, you seem to be behind this decision gate aren’t you?
Jiri: climate science has been hobbled by 6 mistakes in physics [yup- found another!]. Sagan’s aerosol optical physics is wrong because it fails to include a second optical effect: if cloud droplets coarsen more quickly, albedo increases.
This is switched off by CCN hence the surge in phytoplankton when at the end of ice ages [fe distribution iin oceans] stabilizes the interglacial by ~3.5% fall in albedo. the IPCC thinks this is from the GHGs, but they’re wrong because there can be no GHG-(A)GW because self absorption [standard spectroscopy] turns off absorption in a circuitous manner.