Here’s the latest sack of shit on the subject of carbon capture and storage (CCS) that has been around for a long time, but finally deserves some of my attention. In a reputable environmental publication this morning I read:

‘Renewables holding back CCS’: Government support for renewable technologies is to blame for the slow deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page has told the European Commission. In a September 21 speech in Brussels, Page said “CCS appears to be a victim” of distortionary govt support for expensive renewable energy technologies.

Unfortunately, it would appear that no one was available at the EC to say, “No, what is holding back CCS is that it is a Rube Goldberg scheme that will never work, so providing any money to support it in competition with any other viable technology is pissing that money down the drain.”

Here are the facts:

1. The second law of thermodynamics remains valid. Burning a solid or liquid hydrocarbon fuel is easy. However, capturing the resulting CO2 produced in hot gaseous form and turning it back into something cool and trapped in a liquid is both very complicated on the scale of a real power station and phenomenally costly on an energy and dollars basis.

2. CCS is not a permanent solution. By its very name, you know that what is intended is to store the CO2 in liquid, typically in underground reservoirs or liquid bearing formations. While pretty good at containing the high CO2 water, they are not perfect, and there is no long term guarantee that the CO2 stored in this fashion will not eventually leak out, reach the surface in one of several ways, and enter the atmosphere. So, CCS isn’t really a solution in the way that not generating CO2 is in the first place, such as through one of the other technologies that is being supported in the marketplace.

The people behind CCS are the fossil fuel power generators and fuel suppliers (like the coal industry). They say they are all about the market, except when the market (in this case the grants market) isn’t going their way.

Mark my words, there will never ever be a viable CCS process on the scale of an actual commercially operating power station, and even the overfunded pilot plants will never in my lifetime achieve results that warrant pursuing the chimera of CCS.