Why Carbon Capture
Doesn't Work

Recent news on energy

We’re told that there’s a problem with releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Let's think about a power station.

A large new power station, say 2000MW capacity, burning about 8 million tons of wood, 2.6 million tons of methane or 4.5 million tons of coal.

This will produce about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which, if you do the sums, comes to about 20 tons per minute.

The Carbon Capture process, according to current information, will use about 40% of the power produced by the plant. .

The carbon dioxide, a gas, must be collected from the high stack, separated from other gases, liquefied, (very low temperature needed) and then pumped somewhere to a hole in the ground. Such holes are very rare; you can only do it in areas where the geology is exactly right.

To do it they need, therefore, perhaps hundreds of miles of pipelines, with pumping stations and cooling stations all the way along the pipe.

At the hole in the ground, they need a huge pump to push the CO2 down, where it needs to be kept, forever, without leaking. If it leaks out, the whole exercise is futile. They really need an infinitely large leakproof container.

Unfortunately, when liquid CO2 sinks to depths where the surrounding ground is hotter than minus 78C, it turns back into a gas, expanding considerably.......

Assuming that a way can be found to keep the CO2 below its boiling point ....

The gas has to be pumped down the hole at the same rate at which it is being emitted from the plant... 13 million tons a year, 20 tons a minute.

The plant has an expected life span of 50 years, so now the hole in the ground has to contain 650 million tons of CO2.

This is just for one plant.

For any more plants, find more holes.

If the hole fills, then find more holes.

Then construct more pipelines, pumps, cooling stations, etc.


Now perhaps you will have some inkling of the scale of the problem.

A number of tiny CCS enterprises associated with gas fields are already working, and the costs, unsurprisingly, are much higher than planned. Those interested in the costs can google "carbon capture Norway".

Our own Government sanks millions into carbon capture some years ago, mainly on discussion committees and government-funded studies, in the hope of grabbing a few newspaper headlines.

In spite of its unfeasibility, those in charge of our energy policy still say that carbon capture has a future.

I don't know the cost, and nor does anyone else, since it's never been done before on the required scale - but when a project is entirely new, taking the anticipated cost and multiplying by 10 often gives a fair approximation.

Think of the reduction in efficiency (40%) of the power stations themselves, which means another 40% on the price of any electricity produced - and that's not including all those pipelines, pumping stations, cooling stations and almost certainly subsidies.

Then there's the question of leaks. If we ever get to the stage of pumping hundreds of millions of tons of liquid CO2 into the ground, how are we going to ensure that it stays there?

Lastly ... think of the enormous subsidies which will be made available for this unworkable technology. Climate-change energy schemes attract subsidies like hedgehogs attracts fleas.

ND/ habitat21

Back to top

Energy Policy
Nuclear Power
Wind -
big turbines
Wind -
small turbines
Diversity Website