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Carbon Capture & Storage Viability Questioned

Now why doesn’t this surprise me?

The document from Houston University claims that governments wanting to use Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) have overestimated its value and says it would take a reservoir the size of a small US state to hold the CO2 produced by one power station.

Previous modelling has hugely underestimated the space needed to store CO2 because it was based on the “totally erroneous” premise that the pressure feeding the carbon into the rock structures would be constant, argues Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at Houston, and his co-author Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M University

US research paper questions viability of carbon capture and storage | Business | The Guardian.

But of course, the government of Alberta in its wisdom offered two billion dollars split between four organizations, including Shell to undertake CCS projects. These are for projects that have been proposed with defined storage volumes – for instance, Shell’s Quest project “will capture and store 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually beginning in 2015 from Shell’s Scotford upgrader and expansion, near Fort Saskatchewan”.

Interestingly, the report out of Houston which questions the whole viability of the industry as a means of combating climate change, (after all, these companies wouldn’t be doing it out of the goodness of their hearts!), comes just six weeks after this report from the University of Calgary, (funded by the Alberta Government and Industry).

A huge amount of carbon dioxide can be safely stored underground in central Alberta, says a study released by the University of Calgary Friday.

Researchers and industry consultants looked at the costs and risks of permanently storing 20 million tonnes annually of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants such as this TransAlta facility in eastern Alberta. The university described its research as the most comprehensive study of large-scale carbon dioxide storage to have all of its findings made fully available to the public.

The study was funded by the government of Alberta and by industry players, including power producer TransAlta. The company will use the information in developing its proposed storage project near Edmonton.

CBC News – Calgary – Alberta carbon storage safe: study.

They can’t both be right.

Who do you believe?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.