Longannet Carbon Capture and Storage Funding Project Canceled by the British Government


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kinda long but informational

I would expect no one to know what the Longannet Carbon project was attempting to do because I didn't have a clue until about an hour ago. Although me not knowing anything about it holds no weight to anyone elses possible knowledge of the topic. I have never heard of it and didn't know anything about it until I heard it was canceled. What they were proposing to do is interesting if you are interested in the Global Warming argument though.

Carbon Capture and Storage Explanation

First, I'll try to explain, to the best of my comprehension, what carbon capture and storage, or CCS, does. The basic idea is that CCS is a technology that prevents large amounts of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels from power plants and other large industrial plants. Then, after the Co2 is captured, it is proposed that the Co2 is pumped through pipelines, either beneath a water body, such as the North Sea, or pumped deep into the rock of geological formations. The Co2 could also be stored in the form of mineral carbonates as well. This solution would put Co2 back to where it was originally trapped for millions of years. 

CCS Explanatioin Diagram.jpg
How Carbon Storage Works Diagram
click here for an easy to understand bulleted explanation from experts


Benefits

This sounds great doesn't it?! The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released some estimated statistics to the possible overall benefit of CCS. Plants that would use CCS would reduce their total Co2 emissions by about 80-90%. The IPCC also predicted that the total benefit of CCS could be between 10-55% of total carbon mitigation by the year 2100. A large gap for sure, but if it was toward the 55% end of the scale, that would be impressive. The IPCC believes that if stored appropriately that 99% of the stored Co2 would not leak back into the atmosphere over a 1,000 year period! The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) reported that North America alone has storage space  in geological formations, at current production rates, to store over 900 years worth of Co2.

Problems

This obviously sounds too good to be true and what do people say about things that are too good to be true again? They usually are too good to be true. CCS is expensive, to put it in one sentence. The technology is expected to use between 10-40% of the energy produced by a power station. Thus, if everyone adopted CCS, efficiency gains of the past 50 years could be wiped out and resource consumption could increase by 33%. More advancements in CCS technologies would have to be created to eliminate this problem. Another observed problem is that CCS plants use 25% more energy, meaning 25% more coal combustion. So, while CCS would reduce Co2 emissions coming from the coal power plant stacks, it would not affect Co2 release from the mining and transport of coal. Additionally, there are concerns of problems with the storage of the Co2. If they were to pump it deep beneath a large body of water, such as an ocean, it would greatly increase ocean acidification. This is already a problem in itself in oceans. More worry comes from the possible leakage of stored Co2 back into the atmosphere eliminating any previous reduction of Co2. While chances are low if stored properly, the possibility can never be eliminated. Last but not least, people opposed to CCS state that money spent on CCS divert money away from other solutions to climate change.

My Opinion

means nothing, but none the less, I will share it. The idea of carbon capture and storage is intriguing to me. If we could safely place Co2 back where it came from and reduce its presence in the atmosphere, that would be great. The problem is, at this point in time it is not cost worthy for plants to take the initiative to do so, and increasing acidification in oceans doesn't sound like a viable solution to me either. We have already decimated oceans enough, so I would hope to try not to cause any more problems in that department. I also think other environmental problems could crop up at any time with a project like this. For example, this sounds like it could produce problems in ecosystems. Although, the suggestions to pump Co2 deep into geological formations and convert it into mineral carbonates sounds like good possible solutions. With a high guarantee of no leakage if done correctly, it would be worth the risk in my opinion. If more cost effective ways for CCS could be found I think it could be a viable solution. Whether you believe in Global Warming or not, if we can cost effectively remove Co2 from our atmosphere, why wouldn't you support that.


 

Wikipedia was well cited and informative on the basics of Carbon Storage.
 Longannet CCS Project Explanation
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change CCS Report
How Carbon Storage Works Diagram

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