Kerry Lieberman’s Clean Coal Hole In The Ground – Just Throw In Money

Posted on Mon 05/17/2010 by


The American Power Act mentioned in the second paragraph is now (thankfully) a failed Bill of Legislation. The Legislation’s sponsor, Senator John Kerry has removed the Bill from his site, and if you do take the link, you will not be taken to the text for the Act, but to John Kerry’s home page with a message that the Bill has been removed…..TonyfromOz. (November 2010).

Just how stupid are these people?

This Legislation, artfully called ‘The American Power Act‘, (careful it’s a pdf document 987 pages long) further indicates just how totally out of touch some of our legislators are. They are either monumentally arrogant to think that only they can save us from Climate Change with something like this, or they are so stupid as to not even research what they propose before setting it out there before us. It has to be one or the other.

Forget the earlier post I made on the iniquitous new tax on electrical power, aimed specifically at lowering Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, something it cannot do, while instead raising enormous amounts of money in the form of a huge new tax.

Forget that they are sinking Billions into renewable power, which patently and obviously will never supply the power needed on the scale needed and for the time when it is needed.

This legislation specifically aims at pouring Billions of dollars into the Phantom of what they call Clean Coal. They don’t even bother to give it its correct title, but think up a diversionary catchphrase that they think the public will latch on to, making it sound something so simple that people might actually believe it is achievable.

The allocation in this legislation is for $2 Billion each year for the next ten years. $20 Billion. $20 Billion.

Clean Coal!

Geosequestration. Carbon Capture and Sequestration. Carbon Capture and Storage. (CCS)

So, what is it?

Simple. Get the CO2 out of the plant, and then bury it underground. How easy is that? That’s how it is explained to you. However, the process is more than that, as you might expect, but just how complex is it really?

Coal fired power plants burn coal, and almost one billion tons of it in the U.S. alone to generate around 45% of all the electrical power consumed in the U.S. Each ton of coal produces 2.86 tons of CO2.

This is the process for one large plant of say, 2000MW Nameplate Capacity, a plant which burns on average 6.5 Million tons of coal each year, or around 18,000 tons of coal a day. This 18,000 tons of coal each day produces 52,000 tons of CO2 a day, around 2150 tons an hour or nearly 36 tons a minute.

That’s 36 tons of CO2 being emitted each and every minute, and just from one large scale coal fired power plant.

That CO2 comes out the top of the long thin stacks at those coal fired power plants, mixed in with the other exhaust gases and smoke.

All the exhaust then has to be captured, all of it prior to coming out the top of the stack. This has to be achieved at the same rate as it is being emitted.

The CO2 content of that exhaust then has to be separated from the exhaust, at the same rate it is being emitted. This may be achieved by a process similar to converting salt water to fresh, a form of reverse osmosis, which of itself is a highly complex process.

This captured CO2 then has to be liquified at the same rate it is being emitted. This process is again complex and also unstable, as it has to be achieved at a very low temperature, and to keep it in that liquid state, it has to be kept at that incredibly low temperature. Liquifying the gas reduces the volume it takes up considerably.

This liquified CO2 now has to transported, so before we do that there has to be somewhere for it to go to, so let’s look at that first.

Oil and Natural gas exist in areas below the surface, between stable rock formations.

The Geosequestration (Storage) process will put that CO2 into similar stable rock formations underground. Still sounds simple? This has to be done so that the CO2 will never, ever, leak back to the surface in any way. Some processes have already canvassed the idea of sequestering the CO2 in existing oil and natural gas fields. I mean, the oil and Gas have already been removed from these stable formations between rock where it has been as oil and gas for up to millions of years. This injection of CO2 in fact might actually aid in forcing the remainder of oil and gas to be extracted. However, this legislation specifically precludes this from happening at all. In fact, new formations will need to be found to house this CO2. Now consider the scale of this new operation.

If one, just one coal fired plant was to store its CO2 in this newly found hole in the ground, and the plant burns 6.5 million tons of coal each year, then it has to store 19 million tons of CO2 each year. The average life of the plant is between 50 and maybe 75 years, but let’s just go with that lower time frame of 50 years. That means the plant now has to store, and to store forever, an amount of almost 1 Billion tons of CO2.

That is just for one plant. One Billion tons of CO2. One Plant.

Let’s then go back to that one plant then where we have extracted the exhaust, separated the CO2, and now liquified the CO2. This now has to be transported to the place where this new hole in the ground is. The liquid can be pumped down a pipeline, so now they have to construct a pipeline from the plant to the hole in the ground. Keep in mind it has to stay in that liquid state, so it needs to have cooling mechanisms along the way to keep it in that liquid state. This liquid CO2 needs to be pumped down the pipeline at the same rate it is being emitted.

Meanwhile, at the hole in the ground, a whole new plant has to be constructed to further cool the liquid and then pump it into that stable rock formation. It has to pumped into the ground at the same rate it is being emitted.

Now comes a hitch. The deeper you go into the ground, the hotter it gets. Because of this the liquified CO2 now reverts back to a gas, and its volume increases considerably.

Now, having read what is above, you might think that surely, any problems are not really insurmountable.

Consider this then.

This is just for one large scale coal fired power plant of 2000MW Nameplate Capacity. The process of capturing and storing the CO2 consumes 40%, (and that’s conservative) of the total power being produced by the plant. So now, only 1200MW is available for the grid and consumers. This process has used up what amounts to more than 7 Billion KWH each year, or to use the (incorrectly used) terminology favoured by the renewable power lobby, enough power for 600,000 homes.

The reason a coal fired power plant is even constructed in the first place is this.

They can supply vast amounts of electrical power. They can supply those vast amounts of power for 24/7/365, except for minor maintenance down time. They are relatively easy to maintain when compared to more complex plants. The fuel, the coal itself, is still relatively cheap. They can be licensed for 50 to 75 years, and will deliver their power in a constant regular manner for that time. They come on line from the turning of the first sod at construction more quickly than most other plants, and of the greatest importance, they are still relatively cheap to construct, when compared to nearly every other plant on a MW for MW basis.

This Clean Coal, (and how I detest that term) process now virtually triples the cost of this type of plant, when all the above is taken into consideration.

This now brings the cost structure up to and even beyond that of a Nuclear Power Plant.

That same Nuclear power plant will produce the full 2000MW, and will emit no CO2 whatsoever, and when the cost of the fuel is taken into consideration, a Nuclear Power plant now becomes not only an attractive option, but an immensely less costly operation.

Let’s then get back to the hole in the ground. Keep in mind that just for the one coal fired power plant with CCS. They have to store up to 19 Million tons of CO2 each and every year.

Let’s pretend beyond what is the wildest fantasy of a dream that this process can even be worked out at all.

The new legislation makes the point that current plants can be retrofitted with this ghost of a plan, and in a wonderful, wonderful (sarcasm off now) way, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have said that this will go some way to negating their CO2 emissions with respect to the ETS. Say, wait a minute, even though the plant is burying its CO2 emissions, they’ll still be applying the ETS to that plant.

Current emissions from coal fired plants across the U.S. amount to 3.5 Billion tons of CO2 for each and every year.

So now think of this. Remember I highlighted above the phrase ‘at the same rate‘, this new plant at this humungous great hole in the ground now has to force the CO2 into the ground at the same rate it is being emitted from all those coal fired power plants, so at 3.5 Billion tons a year, it now has to force that CO2 into the ground at around, and wait for it, 111 Tons per second. Each gallon of liquified CO2 weighs 8.8 pounds so now those pumps have to handle driving into the ground 25,000 gallons a second. It takes you three minutes to pump 12 gallons of fuel into your car, so now imagine the size of the pumps needed for this futile exercise.

Ridiculous analogy I understand because (of course, naturally) there will be hundreds of these monster holes all over the place, so that means pumps that won’t have to work so hard. It also means thousands and thousands of miles of pipelines from plants to holes, thousands of pumps along those pipelines and cooling mechanisms along them as well.

See how the cost is mounting now. Imagine what all of this is going to do to the cost of electricity. It has to be recovered somehow.

Can you gain even the tiniest inkling of just how stupid all this really is. This is an absolute fantasy that will NEVER be made to work on the scale required.

How big is that hole (or even hundreds of monster holes) in the ground going to be?

How long before one hole fills, and they need to find a new hole?

Then they’ll have to construct a whole new plant at the new hole in the ground, and reroute what amounts to tens of thousands of miles of pipelines to that new hole.

Keep in mind all this CO2 has to stay in the ground FOREVER, safe, stable, secure, never able to leak back to the surface.

So, when John Kerry and Joe Lieberman sit in front of the cameras and speak out into our living rooms with stern faces and tell us they are sinking $20 billion into this absolute madness, don’t you believe a word of it. They have absolutely no idea whatsoever.

Thank God I won’t get to see these two doing that here in Australia. I would be rolling around the floor laughing so loudly.

The trouble is, this is no laughing matter.

This is deadly serious.

If this legislation gets up, these idiots are going to spend that $2 Billion each and every year, mainly on bureaucrats, committees, meetings, gabfests and the like. The legislation itself has 100 pages and more just dealing with the Administration alone. Most of that will go in Administration. There are even provisions for allowances for members of committees to travel to and from meetings.

There’s no provision in the Bill for small scale operations either. They will only consider plants of 1000MW or greater, and apply fractional part funding for smaller plants of no less than 500MW.

Clean Coal. More like sheer and utter madness.

Legislation! Huh! No wonder the date that got the biggest mention was the 1st of April.