The European Energy Review has in the previous few monthspublished a plethora on the subject of carbon capture and storage. Theirviewpoint has been both positive and negative. For example, there are two articles showing the case for and against CCS.
Both of these are well written articles and well researched.Both points of view are valid and the question put simply comes down to whetheryou believe that fossil fuels are needed or not. Assuming that you agree with agoal of a low carbon future, CCS isthus the only way to provide for that while using our remaining reservesof fossil fuels. However the other side would argue against that as it adds tocomplacency and the CCS is too expensive so we run the risk of running with thestatus quo.
However my problem with carbon, capture and storage is moreto do with the name and thus the implications thereafter. Why? The name isincorrect. The process of CCS is described in many places but essentially,energy is expended to take carbondioxide out of flue gas streams and then inject this carbon into theground where it should stay. That is a disposal operation and not a storageoperation. Routes for using that amount of CO2 have not been identified andeven those proposed (i.e. solvents) are still in very early stages ofdevelopment and because of the harsh conditions, are a long shot at best. Inother words the technology should be called carbon capture and disposal or CCD.
Yet everyone seems to be missing this point. Obviously adisposal technology is at the bottom of the waste pyramid. Thus using thistechnology only promotes the excessive use of our resources and does not promptus to use alternatives and cut back. The flip side to this is that storagesounds better and disposal. Further fossil fuels will be necessary for at leastthe next 50 years (the Germans are projecting at least till 2030 though estimatesare broadly showing that half of the grid is based on intermittent sources. Using intermittent sources to power a grid is not feasible according to E.ON and I agree with E.ON; see the summary).
In that context we see a boarder fault. Efficiency in oursystem is never really brought tothe fore. Despite the large subsidies for alternative energy sources and CCS,standard efficiency saving measures are not funded very well. For example estimatesat the cost of CCS in the prototype stage suggest that to capture most of theCO2 from a power station, we would require that station to use approximately30% more fuel to keep its current output. Remember that is at the prototypestage and that is at the initial stages of injection when pressures undergroundare minimal. Thus we are already loosing an efficiency battle here before webegin.
From that point of view I have large reservations on CCS. I am not necessarily against CCS in total as I can see that fossil fuels will be requiredbut the emphasis should be on using less and not on making the system more inefficient.The CCS option should really be alast resort. That does not mean that renewable are the answer solelyeither. Extending the issue is very complex and I can only hope to havesprinkled a bit of light onto the issue regarding my position.