Tuesday 3 April 2012

Right On Cue ! CCS: Here We Go Again

With uncanny timing, just as we have been debating the failure of subsidised nukes to get off the ground, HMG tries to revive that other wingless wonder the Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) scheme.

Having already been jilted at the CCS altar by BP, then by SSE, the government has once again wheeled out its billion-£ dowry in the hope of finding another suitor.

Let's remember the issue here. The CCS chain is comprised of links, each one of which can be described as proven. The CO2 can be extracted from the power generation process (though the technology is newish) - check. The CO2, even though corrosive, can certainly be transported by pipeline (it happens on a huge scale in the USA, for oilfield usage) - check. It can be pumped into the ground (happens all the time for enhancing oil-field production) - check. It will probably stay there ... errrr ... check ?

But no-one has stitched this all together on anything like 'industrial' scale, still less economically. So here we go again - another would-be industry and extensive supply-chain salivating at the prospects of gigantic, ahem, subsidies. There's already a trade body, the CCS Association; and a Professor of CCS !
In the past there was ill-advised official talk of profitability, no less, and politicians dream of an enormous industry developing organically in the same way as did the North Sea oil & gas sector (only in reverse, if you see what I mean). But there are good economic reasons why this doesn't work as a parallel, which we may go into another time.

When Li'l Ed Miliband had a crack at this last time around I highlighted a commendable degree of cynical pragmatism: he set the bar very low for qualification. The same advisers have been drafting for Ed Davey:

"In order to qualify for the competition, projects must be CCS Full Chain, or part chain capable of demonstrating the prospect of being part of a Full Chain Project in the future" (my emphasis) - ha ha !

Some of the sharkiest investors I have ever met have their eyes on this little honey-pot
. On the other hand, leftie-greenies hate CCS, because any hydrocarbon is a hydrocarbon, guilty as charged. So let's see how this all pans out - and hope that not too many British businesses get royally marched up and down the hill again.



Anonymous said...

The bellwether for this one will again be Drax power station - that iconic monstrosity off the M62.

It has had a subsidy to install CO2 scrubbers to remove the gases before they are emitted to the environment. It's now looking of subsidy to burn more wood (eco-friendly gases!) and given that the scrubbers have "the prospect of being part of a Full Chain Project" it must be a shoe-in for more of our cash.

Why Drax though? It generates 5-7% of our electricity needs and emits more CO2 than Sweden - which is ironic considering with a westerly wind, the Swedes get it anyway.

Budgie said...

The only "reason" for CCS is if CAGW is true.

Since global temperatures have been broadly flat for the last 14 years whilst CO2 has continued to increase as before, the central premise of CAGW has already demonstrably failed.

Therefore CCS is a waste of effort and money.

Graeme said...

The Guardian shows that HMG has been hosing money to Canada for CCS.

alan said...

Shame they cant see the game being played out between the USA / China / Russia.

The UK is a lowly pawn in a much larger game of energy chess. Camer-loon (and the EU) doesn't even know the game is afoot.