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G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan 'til ~1996


Fixation of CO2 as rock does not require the rock to be "transported to coal plants", and the comminution energy is not large -- 5 percent, if memory serves -- as a fraction of the energy that was earlier gained putting the CO2 into the air by burning coal. More at RealClimate's "Air Capture"
(http://preview.tinyurl.com/56eamb ).

Tony Wanless


Sorry, I'm having trouble following the logic of "the solution" here. You're saying, I believe, that the solution to the megatons of CO2 emanating from coal plants is to 1. regulate (read: control) the economies of tropical countries so they provide the biosphere that will naturally absorb the CO2 in the atmosphere 2. stop burning coal and 3.use more solar panels and windmills.?

So 1.who would do this regulating of tropical countries, and do we really want to get into keeping a country impoverished to maintain our lifestyles? 2. Ban coal plants? I don't think so - the world's economy revolves around the power produced by those plants, and that concept will go nowhere 3. solar panels are also very energy intensive (to manufacture) and would have to cover the entire landscape to produce enough power to equal a typical coal-fired power plant. Windmills? They work where there is wind -- and steady wind at that, but they could never equal the power production that comes from firing.
Surely this latter solution has been looked at by every coal-fired power plant operator who is faced with enormously rising costs in this new carbon economy. There are many reasons they have not been implemented -- high costs, unproven technology, intermittent supply, etc.
The most prominent one is that coal is readily available, so it continues to be the source of more than 70% of the world's power. So, perhaps developing technology that removes the problem resulting from this usage is in fact the best current option.
Is is perfect? Hardly,especially because it is early and somewhat wasteful technology, as you ably point out.
But is it do-able? Yes. Unlike these other "solutions."
No one solution is the cure. It will have to be a mixture of all of them: Sequestration where appropriate (i.e. close by); solar and wind where appropriate, and as supplements; other firing sources such as natural gas where appropriate.

Kris De Decker


I think you misunderstood my point on tropical forests. At the moment, we can not expect tropical countries to protect their forests. For them, destroying these forests is a way to make money, even if it is just by burning them down and using the land for agriculture (or to grow biofuels or harvest the trees, which they can sell to us).

They will only stop destroying these forests when it is financially interesting for them. Thus you should pay these countries an amount of money for every square mile of forest that is left intact. You should pay them *more* than what they could earn from it by selling the wood or cultivating the land.

That money should go to the people who now earn their living by destroying the forests (from small farmers to greedy corporations), and to the government who must use it to pay guards who protect the woods (there will always be people looking for a double profit).

These countries would get richer, because we would pay them enormous amounts of money (the money that we would otherwise spend on CCS). It will not be a cheap solution, but it will be very effective and without risks (again, a tropical forest can not burn down so there is no chance that the CO2 escapes).

You got the second point: stop burning coal. Or at least, what I wrote, as a first step: stop building *new* coal plants. This is the one and only solution if you want to stop global warming. You may call this unrealistic, but that does not change the fact that it is the one and only solution.

The solutions you give in the end, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, will not solve anything. That's business as usual.

I am not campaigning for more solar plants and wind mills, because they don't even make a difference as long as we are building more coal plants at the same time. My proposal is to stop building new *power* plants.

The next step could then be to change the ones we have by more clean sources, but this is of minor importance.

The world could do fine with the power plants we already have. We won't be left in the dark. There would still be room for economic growth and for new products and services because in this case all innovative effort would go into energy efficiency.

We would learn to do more with what we already have. It is a paradigm shift, but I don't see what's unrealistic about it.

Alison Wiley


I too think that sequestering carbon won't work, and is the wrong path to be going down. We need to rethink our baseline assumptions about energy and our lifestyles. I discuss this in my article Rethinking Our Entitlement To Travel http://www.diamondcutlife.org/rethinking-the-entitlement-of-travel/
Alison in Portland, OR

Well Quite


There are plenty of misleading arguments and misunderstandings in this article, but I'll bring out one in particular:

"If this energy were to be derived directly from fossil fuels the benefits of the CO2-savings by capture and storage will be offset by the very same energy intensive process"

This is not what happens. Think about it.

You have a 1000MW (1GW) coal power plant, and you're using 350MW as 'parasitic load' to enable carbon capture and storage (these are roughly realistic figures). All that means is that you're producing 650MW of clean(er) electricity. That 350MW of 'parasitic load' only comes from your own power generation! It would be one crazy power plant operator who would say "no, let's not use the heat generated in our own process, let's pay for electric heaters!"

'Clean coal' is less efficient than dirty coal, that is true. But in this situation, efficiency is not important. What's important is the CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity, and the price of that electricity.

If you were to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, then clean coal becomes economical at about the same carbon price as onshore wind power. And since clean coal is for baseload power, and wind is for intermittent power, we actually need both. That's what the environmental idealists and the fossil fuel dinosaurs don't understand - that we're going to need a mix, because none of the technologies are sufficient on their own.

kris de decker


I have read your comment several times, but I don't get your point.

Your power plant produces less electricity than it would when the CO2 would not be captured. You get 650 MW instead of 1,000 MW, for the same amount of coal. You still have to mine and transport coal for a 1,000 MW electricity generation, and you only get 650 MW. Mining and transporting causes CO2-emissions too, and lots of other problems, but you leave that part out of your argument.

Also, the figures you are criticizing, are not calculated by me. So what you are actually saying is that the IPCC has it wrong (not that this is impossible, of course).

David Le Page


I enjoyed this, probably for the probably bad reason that it confirmed my own prejudices: you make excellent points that are very rarely made elsewhere.



You missed the only carbon capture scheme that has been proven to work, proven to yield more energy (in the form of crops) than it takes to store the carbon and is totally low-tech to the point of requiring only stone age tools: biochar. (see:http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/)

Bury that atmospheric carbon as charcoal in a marginally producing corn field and production jumps. In some cases production can jump as much as 400% in multi-year trials over controls because the biochar amended soils produced a crop and the controls did not.

Biochar is a name for ground carbonized plant matter that is added to the active region of soils. It requires that the first crop planted be a legume or that some nitrogen is added to the initial application but after that the need for nitrogen rich soil amendments or fertilizers is reduced to get the same yields.

Very large regions of the Amazon basin have man made Terra Preta soils that include large amounts of charcoal. These soils can support crop production year after year where normal tropical soils require rotational crops or large amounts of fertilizer. As pre-columbian Amazonians had no metal tools it's pretty obvious that people can use biochar techniques to grow crops no matter how poor they are. All they need is land and some scrub brush.

kris de decker


Biochar? I suggest you read this first:


"None of this is to suggest that the idea has no virtues, simply that they are outweighed by hazards, which the promoters have overlooked or obscured. Nor does this mean that charcoal can't be made on a small scale, from material that would otherwise go to waste. But the idea that biochar is a universal solution that can be safely deployed on a vast scale is as misguided as Mao Zedong's Great Leap Backwards. We clutch at straws (and other biomass) in our desperation to believe there is an easy way out."

& here:


& here:


"Like many other postulated sustainable technologies, biochar too may fail the crucial "Scale Test" in the final feasibility analysis."

Kansan Doug


Often using CO2 for enhance petroleum production techniques is often mentioned in articles concerning sequestration. Ignoring the fact that the well bores of the producing well have to open to the atmosphere. No matter good the producers are plugged and how well the casing to bore seal is inspected, there are going to be avenues of communication not seen or imagined. Ask Hutchinson KS who was rock by explosions caused be natural gas stored in old salt mines that leaked out traveling a distance, before it ignited.

Ken Roberts


The one item that was and is ignored by the IPPC and our wonderful Government is pumping Co2 under ground constitutes a threat to existing and future generations . This can not be allowed to happen. 1,700 people lost their lives from a volcano that erupted Co2 and covered them in it, they died because there was nothing to breathe but death. But the elites have spoken and we will see many die because of their fruitless methods. 1,700 lost their lives in minutes so this can and will happen in congested areas if we allow this . The number one question is does Co2 cause warming , many scientist agree that it does not. I can provide a list but to what end would it be? It would die right here on this page . I think to do nothing would require courage but also believe it is the only way out.

Robert Ramsay


Soil is a large natural carbon sink; 2 to 3 times the size of the worlds vegetation. The carbon status of soil changes very slowly over time. The basic way it changes is crop residues add to soil carbon. The more crop there is the more carbon is added. To balance this soil carbon is oxidised and is lost to the atmosphere. The higher the concentration of soil carbon the more oxidisation. Other influences on the oxidisation are temperature, wetness, cultivation, fertilisation. There is significant soil carbon change with land use change and a smaller change with management practice. The issue is that it is hard to measure soil carbon accurately and land managers have little incentive to manage it. The benefit is that soils high in carbon are more resilient and have increased biodiversity. The worry is that climate change is predicted to have a negative impact on soil carbon. The solution should be to do the science to create improved and standardised soil carbon measurement systems and to move towards a solution for rewarding carbon capture and penalising carbon release.

nibor nosleinad


real simple idea why not save all the fall leaves grass clippings tree pruning all orqanic mater .prevent it from rotting in under ground storage no rot no co2. most communities collect this anyways so most of infrastructure is in place anyway.most places on the planet have underground holes manmade or natural. once filled with no air movement a small amount of decay creates a co2 blanket that well slow or prevent any further decay the way we are going this my be the bandaid that gets over this problem of warming its a grass roots idea.



What about growing a bunch of trees and then make houses out of them before they rot. Homeless people could live in them so you solve that problem too. Just don't let them burn down. Make sure the houses have a lot of lawns to help in the c02 breakdown. Golf courses might be of some use as long as they were cut using electric power and not fossil fuels. We could quit bombing other country's or helping to bomb other country's. Use cement that makes nanotubes it's carbon negative and rebuild our infrastructure.

Adam P


I would be interested in your take on Allan Savory's use and studies of specific livestock management for carbon sequestration. His numbers sound quite good, and it sounds like studies are confirming his findings.

Kent Brockman


"Why not channel the huge amounts of money needed for the development of CCS to countries with tropical rainforests, so that they have a very good reason to protect them fiercely?"

Because our corporations can't make a profit from saving rain forests like they can from CCS?

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