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DOE Pumps $126.6 Million Into Carbon Sequestration

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the out-of-sight-out-of-mind dept.

Earth 489

RickRussellTX writes "The DOE awarded $126.6 million in grants today to projects that will pump 1 million tons of CO2 into underground caverns at sites in California and Ohio. Environmental groups call carbon sequestration "a scam", claiming that it is too expensive and uncertain to be competitive with non-coal alternatives like wind and solar. I just hope nobody drops a Mentos down the wrong pipe."

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So... (4, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332758)

..."claiming that it is too expensive and uncertain to be competitive with non-coal alternatives like wind and solar."

Why can't we do both? Damn environmentalists meddling again. Never wanting to compromise or find some benefits in alternatives.

Re:So... (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332794)

Why can't we do both? Damn environmentalists meddling again. Never wanting to compromise or find some benefits in alternatives.
Because the people pushing CCS want to burn coal & then shove carbon into the ground.

Greenpeace wants alternatives, not technology that might arrive in 10+ years, only to prolong the existing energy production system.

I personally agree with you, even though Greenpeace sees the funding as a zero sum game.
You never know how or when knowledge & science, for its own sake, will pay off.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333118)

Greenpeace wants alternatives, not technology that might arrive in 10+ years, only to prolong the existing energy production system.
Huh? They've been kicking and screaming for decades to shut down our current power generation systems to replace them with unworkable, economically infeasible systems, when France has been using a safe, zero-carbon power generation system for decades as well. They're the ones living the pipe dream, not the rest of us.

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333252)

How exactly is France's power system safe? And it may be zero-carbon POWER yet there are still significant carbon emissions, which is the actual problem. You're the one living the idiots dream my friend.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333278)

I'm pissed that its CO2 going down in to the underground caverns.
It would be far more efficient if it was nuclear waste.

Re:So... (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333292)

Eh.

We're going to burn all the coal and oil eventually anyway.

What difference does it really make how fast we do it?

If we can shove some of the carbon back underground where we got it, that's a good thing.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332814)

Why can't we do both? Damn environmentalists meddling again. Never wanting to compromise or find some benefits in alternatives.

Actually, they are annoyed because unlike the indulgences^Wcarbon credits the money is not going to the environmentalists.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332816)

Why can't we do both?
The point is, how much more carbon could they have kept in the ground by using the same money to subsidize a carbon-neutral energy source.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332846)

"Why can't we do both?

Why should we? Sequestration has only been proven effect in labs, and the coal industry accepts that it won't be completely up and running by 2030. Wind and solar have been proven to work now. Entire cities and even states in some countries are being run on renewable technologies. It's proven, it works, it's emission free. Carbon sequestration doesn't get rid of the fact that we're un-sustainably mining the earth, creating vast amounts of CO2 and then *hoping* that when we bury it underground there won't be any negative consequences.

"Never wanting to compromise or find some benefits in alternatives."

This is less a compromise and more the coal and mining industry refusing to accept their imminent demise, and instead of looking to the REAL future like some companies (BP?) they'd rather try and flog of unproven and, even in theory, ridiculous ideas to the public.

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332868)

CO2 is plant food, plain and simple. It's not pollution and you lemmings need to stop treating it as such. Did you catch the NOAA report yestereday? Record growth of the ice sheets? Nah, you were probably too busy worshiping your pictures of Al Gore.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333008)

so you're a fan of reforestation? cause uh, you know "California will never run out of trees"

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333126)

"Wind and solar have been proven to work now. Entire cities and even states in some countries are being run on renewable technologies. It's proven, it works, it's emission free."

Where on earth are you getting this data? Please provide at least some reference to any accumulation of people that is self sufficient on solar and wind. Unless of course you are playing loose with definitions and "renewable technologies" includes geothermal, trash-to-steam, etc.

I have a coworker that is very interested in living off grid, and is also an engineer, and cheap to boot. As much as he wanted solar, he couldn't afford it. Why? The payback period (without subsidies) is 100 years! Even with a 50% subsidy, it is 50 years, which still exceeds the life of the panels (which are NOT "emissions free" to manufacture).

Re:So... (1, Interesting)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333178)

"Unless of course you are playing loose with definitions and "renewable technologies" includes geothermal, trash-to-steam, etc."

I did say "renewables". Including Hydro.

"As much as he wanted solar, he couldn't afford it. Why? The payback period (without subsidies) is 100 years!"

You'd be very stupid to take an economic argument on this topic. You think burying all our CO2 is going to be cheap? You think it's going to get rid of all our emissions? No and no. I'm sure the calculations he made did not factor in the rising cost of energy due to the implemention of sequestration, the future scarcity of oil and coal, more wars being fought for energy, etc. etc.

Re:So... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333260)

"You think burying all our CO2 is going to be cheap?"

Way to dodge answering his original question and disregard his point about emissions being released to produce and maintain equipment for wind and solar technologies.

Re:So... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333296)

If the alternatives were cheap, they would be in place now.
Coal + sequestration is still *significantly* cheaper than solar and will be for the next 20 years at least.

And dont mention Hydro.
The greenies hate that because it destroys habitats. :)

You cant win against them.

Re:So... (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333446)

Sequestration won't be in place for another 20 years at least.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333302)

R2.0 wrote:

Where on earth are you getting this data? Please provide at least some reference to any accumulation of people that is self sufficient on solar and wind.
How about from Slashdot [slashdot.org] , still on the main page as of my writing this post?

~Rebecca

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333376)

Where on earth are you getting this data? Please provide at least some reference to any accumulation of people that is self sufficient on solar and wind. Unless of course you are playing loose with definitions and "renewable technologies" includes geothermal, trash-to-steam, etc.

While I agree about cities being self sufficient in renewable energy, the only place I can think of is Iceland and to a degree Hawaii using geothermal as they are, but there are plenty of people who's house is energy sufficient, Off Gridders [off-grid.net] . Daily more and more people are going off the grid. Oh and geothermal is just as renewable as solar and wind.

I have a coworker that is very interested in living off grid, and is also an engineer, and cheap to boot. As much as he wanted solar, he couldn't afford it. Why? The payback period (without subsidies) is 100 years! Even with a 50% subsidy, it is 50 years, which still exceeds the life of the panels (which are NOT "emissions free" to manufacture).

I don't know where your friend gets his data from. According a study published by Wiley, "Photovoltaics energy payback times, greenhouse gas emissions and external costs: 2004-early 2005 status" [$30 to buy] [wiley.com] payback period is less than 25 years. Some of those who have built their home off the grid, had payback periods of under 15 years, before the warranty of some components expires.

Falcon

Hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333456)

I have a coworker that is very interested in living off grid, and is also an engineer, and cheap to boot. As much as he wanted solar, he couldn't afford it. Why? The payback period (without subsidies) is 100 years! Even with a 50% subsidy, it is 50 years, which still exceeds the life of the panels (which are NOT "emissions free" to manufacture).

Let me guess. It this the co-worker that told you about Obama and the swearing in on the "kuran"? Or perhaps he told you to buy some excite (or enzite, or something like that ). Or he told you that the Federal Budget has been balanced, but those GD dems unbalanced it again? Because they all have the same validity.

Coal and mining won't be going away anytime (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333180)

Not except in some green fever dream.

We will need everything we got including wind, thermal, biomass, nuclear, and good old black gold just to keep up with the inevitable buildout of the third world.

And you if think enough wind farms, biomass farms, and solar panels to supply our demands won't harm the environment as much as oil and coal, you are naive.

Everything we use for our energy supply will have costs to the environment. We must be smart. Scrub the smokestacks, reclaim the mines, kill the birds but try to minimize, plow over the forests for more farms, but use the best techniques and preserve the remaining forests smartly with corridors for animals.

There is no choice between a dirty hydrocarbon past and a clean green future. There is no such thing. There are no free lunches in anything.
 

Re:Coal and mining won't be going away anytime (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333390)

And you if think enough wind farms, biomass farms, and solar panels to supply our demands won't harm the environment as much as oil and coal, you are naive.
We do and can, it just costs a heck of a lot more than using something like coal to have the same effect. Don't be naive :)

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333186)

Wind and solar have been proven to work now.
Sorry, it's not that I don't wish that were true but it's just not. Look up the annual energy consumption of the US (105 exajoules (29000 TWh) -- according to Wikipedia) and try to come up with any reasonable scenario in which that much energy can be produced by wind and solar. I've tried to run the numbers even in the most favorable cases and they just aren't there without a huge boost in the efficiency and economy of those alternative methods.

Don't get me wrong, I think we are on the same team here but I refuse to believe, in the face of hard evidence, that wind + solar + geothermal + hydrodynamic + tidal energy will be sufficient to meet domestic US demand for the foreseeable future. Even the most aggressive energy efficiency plans won't kick in in earnest for a decade (cars turn over roughly 10 years, home appliances every 25, homes every 50 and the more you impose, the more costs go up and the slower the turnover happens).

This is less a compromise and more the coal and mining industry refusing to accept their imminent demise
News of their impending demise is highly overrated. The US has enough coal to last us 50 years at current growth rates and China likely does too. With oil capacity down and natural gas reserves dwindling, Americans will either have to consume much less energy (not likely) or tap into coal.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333264)

There's an inconsistency in your post. You're basing your figures for renewables on current energy usage rates and current technologies, but you're saying that if we use coal we have to reduce energy consumption. We have to reduce consumption regardless. Sooner or later we're going to be on all renewables. Why not invest in it, cut consumption so we can do it sooner, rather then completely mining everything out of the ground and destroying a fair chunk of the environment?

Re:So... (2, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333398)

You are mixing up my supply and demand side arguments.

On the demand side, I'm pretty certain that Americans will not tolerate any changes that reduce their perceived standard of living. Efficiencies like better cars, appliances and houses are a fantastic idea but take a long time to materialize due to slow turnover in those areas. Grander plans like better urban design so you don't have to drive ****ing everywhere and creating situations where you can live near where you work will take even longer. Support for these policies must come with a firm grasp of their realistic benefits, otherwise you aren't supporting any real policy you are just imagining things. I support them but I realize that they aren't the magic bullet some seem to claim.

Given that demand is likely to rise for the time being just due to population growth (even as the efficiencies that I support kick in), we need to be realistic about the supply side. Wind and solar are just not going to cut it as baseload power (solar is fantastic as a 'peak' power boost since it correlates with AC use) for the time being. We should invest in making them more efficient and economical, no doubt, but again, we have to be clear about what is realistic.

Despite /.ers insistence that it is dying, coal will be around in the US (and certainly in China) for a long time (your children will be dead before we generate less than 1% of our energy from fossil fuels). There is absolutely no reason for the DOE not to investigate safe and affordable ways to mitigate the environmental impact. Perhaps Greenpeace is right that sequestration is unrealistic, unsafe and unaffordable -- it certainly is now. On the other hand, so are wind and solar right now. Why should we foreclose options?

Re:So... (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333306)

"Entire cities and even states in some countries are being run on renewable technologies. It's proven, it works, it's emission free... ... very expensive and does not have a continuous output. We could substitute allot of out energy needs with solar or wind but certain parts of the world don't always get allot of wind and sun. Burning fuel and nuclear can output their rated capacity 24/7/365 if necessary. "Proven" and "works" don't always mean its going to gain market share. Believe me I would love to go solar for my home but spending upward of 15 grand just for the solar panels is ludicrous. I can easily install it myself but imagine that the installation cost of a "pro" would add at least another 5 grand. For 20 thousand bucks I can light my house for the next 15 years at the same rate I am using power now.

 

Re:So... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333326)

I used to think it was untried as well but apparently the oil industry has been doing something similar for years to extract oil. Gas goes down and oil comes up, then apparently the pressure keeps most of the gas down there.

IMHO the answer is a mix of different technologies and something to offset the existing plants that will be running for a few more decades.

Re:So... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333294)

Global warming is a scam.

Ignoring some facts... (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333374)

CO2 isn't a gas that heats up the atmo. In fact, it cools it- about a million core samples show this. This "scam" is just another scam on top of a hoax. And, it's why we're in desperate need to wrest control of the government out of the hands of the fed.

It's not that they'd rather use that money sending poor people to college or feeding the hungry- they get their own endless supply of not-quite-enough to keep them from starting a revolt. It's that they take this money and quite literally shove it into the ground when there's no need...and when they need more, they'll tax more.

The $600 toilet seat, shoving CO2 under ground, and you *really* want these people chosing our cars for us, chosing our health care and such? Time to wake up: it's because they're in control that things suck so much. This notice of the stupidity should be a reason for all of us to wake up and call Washington, but I doubt anyone will. It's just so out of control...

Re:So... (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333380)

Indeed. The USA has tons (well, megatons) of coal. If this has a chance, Wall Street will jump for joy and celebrate with a round of drinks for everyone at the vegan bar. This is worth considering because the benefits would be so huge for the earth, for business, and for Main Street (jobs and lower inflation).

Better solution exists (3, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332774)

Carbon sequestration is like burying a ticking bomb in your backyard. A much better solution is carbon mineral sequestration - turning the carbon into rocks of some kind. That way, unlike underground sequestration (which has the potential to leak straight back into the atmosphere), the carbon stays where it is put.

Re:Better solution exists (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332822)

If only we could engineer a self-replicating machine that uses carbon from the air and turns it into a pretty dense and perhaps even useful solid material.

If I made such a machine I might call it 'The Real Easy Extraction' machine

Re:Better solution exists (4, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332936)

One issue is that it is very easy to covert trees and other plants back into gasses [flickr.com] .

And then as you plant more of them, and get a forest that looks like a tree farm [flickr.com] , fire becomes a larger risk.

And then your carbon sequestration devices are threatening surrounding communities.

A huge issue across the US is overpopulation of forests because we have been preventing forest fires for so long, so there is definitely no shortage of trees in many areas.

Other than that small detail, yeah, plants are one way to easily store carbon.

Re:Better solution exists (2, Funny)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332946)

It's not like there isn't "ticking time bombs" everywhere. I say we try what we know how to do first, then you can have the starship enterprise show up and work it's miracles when it arrives.

CO2 not "carbon" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333462)

They are talking about sequestering co2 right, not carbon. That means they sequester two oxygen molecules for every one carbon molecule.

Sounds like a bad idea.

Safety? (4, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332780)

Actually, my main concern is "what if it escapes?". Considering that CO2 is heavier than Oxygen, I wouldn't like to be anywhere near (i.e. within tens of km if not more) a site that stores thousands of tons of CO2.

Re:Safety? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332844)

This brought up Lake Nyos [wikipedia.org] in my mind... What if all that CO2 escapes, indeed.

Re:Safety? (2, Informative)

penn00 (1224820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332876)

I thought of this at first, but Lake Nyos was a crater lake that flooded an adjacent valley with CO2. I doubt that these caverns have the same possibility to allow the CO2 to flow down hill and "pool" in to an area below sea level.

Why not worry about water shooting out of wells? (2, Interesting)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332870)

Considering that CO2 is heavier than Oxygen, I wouldn't like to be anywhere near (i.e. within tens of km if not more) a site that stores thousands of tons of CO2

that's why all the plans involve putting it down somewhere. I'd oppose sequestration in huge towers outside of major metropolitan areas, but putting it deep down in the ground makes a lot of sense.

--MarkusQ

Re:Why not worry about water shooting out of wells (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333102)

putting it deep down in the ground makes a lot of sense.
Given the opportunity I think the CO2 would prefer to be ABOVE ground level, considering it is less dense than the surrounding rock (or lake).

Personally I'd like to know if an earthquake or shifting in an inconvienent place would cause CO2 leakage.

Re:Why not worry about water shooting out of wells (5, Informative)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333116)

that's why all the plans involve putting it down somewhere.

If it was stored in gas form at atmospheric pressure, it wouldn't be a problem (it would just be silly). The problem is that if it's stored in highly compressed or solid form, then if something goes wrong and it goes back to gas, it *will* go up and escape, potentially killing anyone in the area.

Re:Why not worry about water shooting out of wells (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333336)

If it was stored in gas form at atmospheric pressure, it wouldn't be a problem (it would just be silly). The problem is that if it's stored in highly compressed or solid form, then if something goes wrong and it goes back to gas, it *will* go up and escape, potentially killing anyone in the area.

Gas at atmospheric pressure in air is only one possible solution. For another, consider that at higher pressure, CO2 is denser than water under the same conditions [technologyreview.com] . Thus, if sequestered under the sea it would be even more stable than the gas at one atmosphere in air case. There are other solutions as well.

CO2 is not as simple a substance as you seem to be supposing, nor are extrapolations from familiar situations always valid..

--MarkusQ

Re:Safety? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332890)

when they say sequestered, I assume they mean it's going to be locked into a solid form? The only example of a gas being stored in a geological formation is all that helium they set aside for the airships way back when.

That and I don't understand why they can't just make use of it. I'd expect a biodiesel plant would love to be piped into that, making good use of all that CO2 to increase their yield.

This whole idea is basically the same as a landfill. Burying a problem never makes it go away, and almost always causes it go get worse for later generations.

Re:Safety? (4, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332928)

... my main concern is "what if it escapes?". Considering that CO2 is heavier than Oxygen, I wouldn't like to be anywhere near (i.e. within tens of km if not more) a site that stores thousands of tons of CO2.

CO2 has sometimes been pumped down oil wells to provide pressure to lift out more oil after the hole goes "dry" due to loss of natural gas pressure while there's still oil available.

On at least one occasion such a well has leaked, creating a large bubble of CO2 on the ground that displaced the air and caused human fatalities. (Not oil workers, either, but sleeping neighbors.)

Re:Safety? (1)

wass (72082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333084)

You mean, like the degassing event of Lake Nyos [wikipedia.org] , where approximately one cubic kilometer of CO2 gas stored in the lake bottom was suddenly released, triggered possibly by a seismic event? The gas suffocated and killed 1700 people, along with numerous cattle and trees.

Besides, carbon sequestering doesn't solve any problems, it just postpones it for a future generation to deal with. We could exert ourselves now and work at carbon-neutral energy generation, but we'll have to fight against fossil-fuel powers thatwill fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo.

Environmental groups call carbon sequestration "a (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333088)

Environmental groups call carbon sequestration "a scam"

Well, as the experts in scams, they would know.

Carbon Credits/Offsets are the modern version of Catholic Indulgences.

Re:Safety? (2, Informative)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333140)

Just to make it clear, this [wikipedia.org] is what I'm talking about.

That's the main problem with environmental groups (2, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332796)

That's the main problem with environmental groups. At their core, many of them are just as immune to rational argument and unwilling to consider proposals that don't line up with their pre-conceived notions as the fossil fuel industries and their pet politicians.

The arguments against sequestration are (so far as I've seen) just as bogus as the anti-nuclear waste disposal arguments. I'm glad that these groups recognize when there are problems with any given technology, I just wish their response to any attempt to address the problem wasn't a knee-jerk claim that the proposed fix was a scam and that the only solution was to abandon the technology and switch to moonbeams.

--MarkusQ

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (5, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332920)

"many of them are just as immune to rational argument"

Your statement hinges on the fact that coal industry has indeed given any rational arguments to support the burying of CO2 (A very literal way of 'burying your head in the sand', don't you think?). Let's step back and look at the problem. The main issue we have the moment is global warming being caused by an excess of greenhouses gases, predominantly CO2 in the atmosphere. We need solutions. Renewable energy is a solution. Cutting back on energy usage is a solution. And yes, even sequestration is a solution. However, what are the best and most effective solutions to take? Cutting back our usage can be done now and it can have significant effects in the area of reducing CO2 output. Renewables are already a proven technology and lack only significant funding to make them more common. That said, in many countries and states funding is significant and renewable energy targets are set to be met. Now let's look at sequestration. Is it proven? Only in laboratories. Which if you consider the scale and possible ramifications of the process is a fairly useless sticking point. Is it safe? Well you decide for yourself. Pumping millions of tonnes into underground caverns? Versus building windmills, hydro plants and solar farms. Does it solve our problems? In the short term it prevents CO2 from immediately going into the atmosphere but burying it can't continue indefinitely, and it does nothing to reduce our reliance on coal - a finite source.

The idea virtually is a scam, it's the coal industry asking for grants and subsidies all across the world to support a dying business instead of looking the facts in the face and realising that renewables are the way of the future. No amount of exaggeration (Moonbeams?) on your part will change that.

Please be honest (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332942)

"Cutting back on energy usage is a solution."

What you really meant to say is that massive depopulation of the earth is the solution, since at this point we can only reduce the rate at which energy consumption grows, not the overall rate at which energy is consumed.

Re:Please be honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333460)

What you really meant to say is that massive depopulation of the earth is the solution
What A Modest Proposal. [google.com]

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333080)

we have 100's of years worth of coal. why can't you people understand this fact.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333136)

Hundreds of years if our current consumption levels don't increase. Since energy consumption increases exponentially...

We also don't have enough "underground caverns" to fit hundreds of years worth of CO2. In addition searching and mining for more and more coal resources is going to have detrimental effects on the environment as a whole. All my points still stand.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333366)

What we don't have is 100's of years worth of atmosphere to pump greenhouse gases into without it making a very visible difference.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333238)

Your statement hinges on the fact that coal industry has indeed given any rational arguments to support the burying of CO2 (A very literal way of 'burying your head in the sand', don't you think?).

That's exactly the sort of thing I mean. Carbon sequestration is an idea. There are arguments for and against it, and each of these arguments will have some degree of merit and applicability. If you are being rational, that's all that matters. I am making no assumption whatsoever about where the arguments come from, but you immediately attribute them to the coal industry. I fail to see how this is productive.

Renewable energy is a solution.
Not in and of itself, surely. The things most people mean by "renewable energy" simply aren't up to the task, and most have not-so-hidden costs that make them worse than the alternative (and given how bad fossil fuels are, that's saying something. If you're talking about nuclear, space based solar, or sacrificing most of the world's deserts to do molten salt solar I might buy it, but I doubt that's hat you're thinking.

Cutting back on energy usage is a solution.

Not unless you are going to impose your plan through the use of force, and are willing to kill a large number of people in the process. Tem million uppies switching to compact florescent bulbs isn't going to do it.

In the short term it prevents CO2 from immediately going into the atmosphere but burying it can't continue indefinitely,...

...and it does nothing to reduce our reliance on coal - a finite source

I fear this (and only this) is the real objection. Which (if true) is sad since a) it would be better to focus on solving the actual problem (HCGW) and not get distracted by red herrings (reliance on coal), and b) the very fact that fossil fuels are finite resources is a good thing.

We'd really be screwed if there were effectively unlimited supplies of coal that could be profitably mined at today's prices. Global Warming would then be truly impossible to prevent. Luckily, supplies are limited and thus prices will continue to go up and up until alternative are much more attractive. That is what will send the fossil fuel industry packing, leaving them on the discard pile with slide rules, steam shovels, and buggy whips.

No amount of exaggeration (Moonbeams?) on your part will change that.

Flip, yes, but not entirely an exaggeration. Some of the "alternative energy sources" that have been proposed over the years actually yield, in the best case, less energy than the Earth gets in the form of sunlight reflected off the moon. But I will concede that such flippancy is counterproductive and detracts from my main point.

--MarkusQ

Moonbeams are the ones that are anti-coal (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333244)

The idea virtually is a scam, it's the coal industry asking for grants and subsidies all across the world to support a dying business instead of looking the facts in the face and realising that renewables are the way of the future. No amount of exaggeration (Moonbeams?) on your part will change tha

The fact of the matter is that right now there is no alternative energy technology that competes with coal. If there were, people would be using that. But it doesn't exist. You can say that coal has a future, but until you produce a few trillion watts of 24x7 reliable power from windmills on a calm day and solar panels on a cloudy day, then, alternative energy doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Even already in Texas, which mandated alternative energy, customers in ERCOT are looking either at blackouts when the windmills don't go, or, they import their energy from some place, that well, uses coal.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333068)

One way CO2 is being sequestered now is with enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Even though it sounds like you're just pulling more hydrocarbons out of the ground (e.g. bad), think of it this way: if you're pumping more CO2 into the ground then produced from combustion of the oil taken out, you've just made all that oil carbon neutral.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

sshore (50665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333236)

If you're pumping more CO2 into the ground then produced from combustion of the oil taken out, you've just made all that oil carbon neutral.

Hydrocarbons contain much more carbon by volume than CO2. Replacing the hydrocarbons with CO2 would still represent an outflux of carbon.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

largesnike (762544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333120)

The arguments against sequestration are (so far as I've seen) just as bogus as the anti-nuclear waste disposal arguments.
What like, for instance, "it doesn't work". Oh unless you've actually demonstrated a working prototype in your back yard.

Re:That's the main problem with environmental grou (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333218)

It looks as though we are going to need sequestration from the atmosphere based on what is becoming understood about the sensitivity of the climate to grenhouse gasses http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080317.pdf [columbia.edu]

In my opinion, a solid is much more compatible with storing carbon in the Earth than a gas, but even if we are to store a gas, it does not make a whole lot of sense to use up what capacity there may be on burning coal. Coal is already nicely sequestered.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (0)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332806)

We produce possibly harmful waste and bury it deep underground.

What can possibly go wrong with such a foolproof plan?

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332848)

I don't know exactly what can go wrong, but breathing CO2 is apparently not healthy. I'm hoping that someone comes up with a way to use salt/sand in some chemical reaction with CO2 to separate the O2 and create cheap building materials with the C.

That sounds like the kind of problem that needs to be solved. If it can be sequestered, it can be processed. If we can just make it into something useful without blowing up the planet at the same time it will be good.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332994)

Quick chemistry lesson - splitting the C from the O2 would take as much energy as was gained by putting them together, and that's in an ideal, 100% efficient world.

A much more practical solution is to find a way to get the CO2 to combine with something to form an insoluble carbonate.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333086)

Guess it's time for the IANAC moniker? I am not a chemist?

Either way, if someone can find something useful to do with CO2 it would dull the pains we currently are having with it, and that was my point.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (5, Funny)

silvermorph (943906) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332958)

Hey neat, we're making our own Balrog.

1986 Disaster (1, Informative)

Tuqui (96668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332810)

Hope you don't live near or at least this type of disaster [wikipedia.org] doesn't happen there.

The USA (1, Funny)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332832)

The USA: Dumping their problems into holes and sealing them off...since...forever.

Progress? (1)

physicsnick (1031656) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332836)

By a quick calculation from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , there are about 1.9 trillion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.

What exactly is the point of this endeavour?

Re:Progress? (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332952)

What exactly is the point of this endeavour?


It makes the people doing it feel good. That's all it does and all it needs to do.

Liberals seeking absolution for being successful (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333182)

That is the point of this endeavor. Liberals feel overwhelmed with guilt for a number of reasons and are constantly seeking absolution. How else can you explain race-based college admission and employment quotas? In an ideal world, wouldn't people be judged by their qualifications and not genetic qualities like race or gender? Nooooo, not in a world dominated by guilty liberals.

WTF? (2, Interesting)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332842)

Can't we just plant trees? I heard that natural swamp ecosystems can be used to purify water better than our industrial plants. We could create a project that actually does something useful.

Re:WTF? (0, Troll)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333026)

Can't we just plant trees? I heard that natural swamp ecosystems can be used to purify water better than our industrial plants. We could create a project that actually does something useful.


Clearly you've missed the enviromentalist wacko point that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and that's really really bad

On a less sarcastic note if you have figured out that plants need CO2 to live, then there is probably hope that once you start looking at the so-called science of manmade global warming, you'll discover that it's not science at all.

To put the project in perspective Kiluea pumps out around 700,000 tons a year, and Pinatubo put out more CO2 in '91 than the entire output of all mankinds exisistence. As it turns out nature responds by (suprise suprise) increasing plantlife. So we are going to offset Kiluea for 1.5 ( to be generous) years by pumping it underground.

Now if we had a project to buy up the rainforests so they wouldn't be hacked down I might think they are actually doing something about co2 levels.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

Boycott BMG (1147385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333436)

On a less sarcastic note if you have figured out that plants need CO2 to live, then there is probably hope that once you start looking at the so-called science of manmade global warming, you'll discover that it's not science at all.

To put the project in perspective Kiluea pumps out around 700,000 tons a year, and Pinatubo put out more CO2 in '91 than the entire output of all mankinds exisistence. As it turns out nature responds by (suprise suprise) increasing plantlife. So we are going to offset Kiluea for 1.5 ( to be generous) years by pumping it underground.

I'm no scientist, but I do know BS when I smell it. Concerning volcanoes in particular, http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas.html [usgs.gov]

Comparison of CO2 emissions from volcanoes vs. human activities.
Scientists have calculated that volcanoes emit between about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Gerlach, 1999, 1991). This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts. Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 27 billion tonnes per year (30 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 2006) - The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2, through 2003.]. Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes--the equivalent of more than 8,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 3.3 million tonnes/year)! (Gerlach et. al., 2002)
also, concerning Mt. Pinatubo itself, http://pubs.usgs.gov/pinatubo/wolfe/ [usgs.gov]

Gerlach and others estimate that, in addition to the measured 17 Mt of SO2, the eruption of approximately 5 km3 of magma was accompanied by release of at least 491 to 921 Mt of H2O, 3 to 16 Mt of Cl, and 42 to 234 Mt of CO2.
So Mt. Pinatubo let off 42 to 234 Mt of CO2, which is more than 100 times less than what man released in 2006.

CARBON TRADING IS ALSO A SCAM (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332858)

Shit, if Obama wants to talk about shell games, that nigger should look at carbon trading and Al Gore's sweet little business... Talk about making some walking-around money!

Bamboo (3, Insightful)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332904)

1. Grow Bamboo 2. Drop down old salt mine or other large hole. 3. ??? 4. Profit!

Re:Bamboo (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332970)

3.Wait until becomes Petroleum.

Re:Bamboo (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333010)

3.Wait until becomes Petroleum.


I think you misspelled the word "Coal."

Methane (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333082)

Bamboo rots. Gives off methane and CO2. Methane is almost 30x as bad a greenhouse gas as CO2.

Greenpeace... *ahem* (3, Interesting)

Swift Kick (240510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332910)

I like how 'environmental groups' is a link to a single source: Greenpeace.

As we all know, they're the kind of people that we can have a good intelligent discussion with, right? Of course, anyone that doesn't fall in line with their philosophy is some sort of heretic, even if they happen to be one of their own founders [washingtonpost.com] that disagrees with a long-standing platform of the organization.

I'd have a lot more respect for them if they also condemned Al Gore and his pimping of useless carbon credits [newsbusters.org] that happen to fatten his own pockets...

This whole we're poisoning the earth w/ CO2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23332916)

is the biggest environmental fraud. I'd like to sentence the perpetrators to hold their breath so they stop emitting "polluting" carbon dioxide.

Stupid (5, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23332960)

I wonder if Greenpeace realizes the choice isn't between coal plants with sequestered carbon and windmills. In reality, barring some fortuitous breakthrough in solar power, as oil gets more expensive the choice will be between coal plants with this technology and coal plants without it. I believe Greenpeace has completely overestimated the average person's willingness to make lifestyle sacrifices for the sake of atmospheric carbon reductions.

I wish organizations like this would try to be part of the solution instead of just trying to limit our options. You can't accuse the coal companies of proposing a technology that isn't economically feasible on the one hand and then propose wholesale conversion to technologies that are even less economically feasible.

We wouldn't even have this problem if the very same people hadn't killed the nuclear industry through scaremongering and excessive litigation.

Re:Stupid (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333232)

We wouldn't even have this problem if the very same people hadn't killed the nuclear industry through scaremongering and excessive litigation.
Amen. The person on this planet that has done the most to promote the warming of this planet has to be, without a doubt, Jane Fonda. It's not that her heart wasn't in the right place but her head was a different matter entirely.

Re:Stupid (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333338)

Seems to me that the nuclear industry has been its own biggest problem through inattention to safety. The reason greenpeace has better ideas is because they've been working on the problem longer. This is because they did not buy into the stuff that the fossil fuel industry was dishing out and so know global warming was a real problem. Greenpeace has taken the time to study the alternatives. For example, this 1999 report: http://archive.greenpeace.org/climate/renewables/reports/kpmg8.pdf [greenpeace.org] shows exactly what is happening with solar power now as it heads below $1/watt, cheaper than coal. Once you've taken the time to study the subject, you'll come to agree with them.

Re:Stupid (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333432)

We wouldn't even have this problem if the very same people hadn't killed the nuclear industry through scaremongering and excessive litigation.

You misspelt "couldn't make as large a profit anymore due to reduced sales of weapons materials". It's nice and easy to blame hippies but things came to an almost total halt in the USA before that. It's interesting that Carter and Thatcher are both well informed nuclear power advocates and both halted expansion of civilian nuclear power programs for economic reasons. The private sector is not willing to take the risk - they only took the risk before when the governments put up the cash, research and materials. India and South Africa are a different story and are producing modern reactor designs instead of the US efforts of 1950's white elephants painted green in the hope of a government handout.

What a crock (2)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333024)

How much CO2 is generated in the process of accumulating, pressurizing, and delivering it? When you have worked through all of the ripple effect, I bet they generate a pound of CO2 for each pound they sequester.

This is no different from Wile E. Coyote's electric fan-powered sailboat.

Or the ethenol believers who conveniently neglect the big fire they have to put under that still.

That's a sustainnable business model (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333108)

but perhaps not a sustainable environmental model.

Re:What a crock (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333210)

Or the ethenol believers who conveniently neglect the big fire they have to put under that still

You have to put a big fire under oil too, to refine it, and that works out ok. Duh.

Besides, you would use nuclear power to run the still.

Department of Education? (1)

samuraiknight (897383) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333038)

I didn't know the Department of Education was interested in carbon sequestration... Sounds like a euphemism for larger class sizes.

Seriously, /. editors, please spell out acronyms.

ahem, more expensive? (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333058)

"claiming that it is too expensive and uncertain to be competitive with non-coal alternatives like wind and solar"

yeah right, solar is what, $10 per watt still? what a joke.

Re:ahem, more expensive? (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333212)

yeah right, solar is what, $10 per watt still? what a joke.
How expensive will your fossil fuel power be when you add in the cost of carbon sequestration? Or worse, when you run out of easily accessable fossil fuels?

Re:ahem, more expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333340)

How expensive will your solar electricity bill be after you're hit with a local warming tax for putting black, sun absorbing, heat radiating, pv panels on your rooftop?

Hard enough (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333154)

To get horses to jump over fences, and they want to do it with elemental carbon? Craziness, I say!

Spare Change (0, Offtopic)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333162)

$126 Million looks like spare change compared to what the DOD (Department of War) is spending on Iraq Sequestration.

Earthquakes in Ca. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333168)

California might not be the best spot for storing of carbon underground..... Heard of an Earthquake?

Anti-Sequestration People Miss the Point (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333202)

Without sequestration, then, mankind has no defense against a natural carbon dioxide increase. The simple fact of the matter is that while man might dump 8 gigatons of carbon into the environment, the biosphere is churning through nearly one hundred times the amount. Balancing human emissions won't guarantee a stable system - that's a mathematical impossibility, and the geologic record shows it.

If you are going to manage atmospheric gases, then manage them. Otherwise, quit moaning the about the threat of GW. Just because man may choose not to do it does not mean that nature will agree.

Re:Anti-Sequestration People Miss the Point (2)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333368)

Without sequestration, then, mankind has no defense against a natural carbon dioxide increase
And yet, a natural carbon dioxide is the least of our worries - its mostly unpredicatble. However, human emissions are predictable - and forecast to grow at exponential rates. It's fairly disingenuous of you to suggest that sequestration is meant for natural CO2 emissions when it's in fact meant to be a solution to allow the US to keep burning coal.

Sticking them in the ground is not a sane nor rational plan for, as you put it 'managing atmospheric gases'. However, this seems to be a common theme at the Department of Energy. Waste problem? No problem - bury it in the ground and hope we are dead before the chickens come home to roost, so to speak.

The simple fact of the matter is that while man might dump 8 gigatons of carbon into the environment, the biosphere is churning through nearly one hundred times the amount
I'm afraid this smells of made up statistics. Perhaps you have a source? Most atmospheric CO2 comes from fossil fuel emissions.

If you are going to manage atmospheric gases, then manage them. Otherwise, quit moaning the about the threat of GW
This confirms your status as a skeptic, which is generally to be encouraged, but you're completely out of your depth and it shows. 'Managing' atmospheric gases does not mean hiding them like a corpse or feces and hoping no-one notices. It means reducing consumption, primarily, as this reduces overall emissions. Increasing emissions while relying on unproven technology to be your saviour is extremely juvenile and short-sighted.

If they had a workable model for storing the CO2, long-term, this might be possible, but as of now, it's all smoke and mirrors. 'Hey, look - the US is no longer dragging it's feet on CO2 emissions!' Which is of course, untrue. It's like designing a car around a power source that has not yet been invented.

The American generating plan through 2030 is...coal, and lots of it. New scrubber technologies and filters. Of course, many plants have not even complied with current standards, let alone new ones. After all, who wants to lower profitability in the name of infrastructure investment? Paying fines for being noncompliant is cheaper than making the plants compliant since your enviornmental laws are so toothless - and that's in comparaison to other first world nations, who for the most part also have extremely lax laws.

$126.6 Million into Carbon Sequestration (0, Flamebait)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333226)

Al Gore should get a commission.

DOE funding Priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333268)

I'm amazed every week when the DOE announces another multi-million grant or partnership or RFP all the while they are starving their own National Laboratory system. In 10 years the DOE budget has grown modestly. However, the $$ that the DOE headquarters receives has grown from 1.5 billion to nearly 5 billion - and the $$ at most DOE labs has been flat (effectively a budget reduction due to inflation).

The Leadership in DC must feel they know what science will best serve the future - as apposed to the scientists who actually do the science.

So I wonder, is the carbon sequestration a bottom up effort or a top down effort?

Better Idea (1)

suburbanmediocrity (810207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333416)

Wouldn't it be less expensive to pump CO2?

Economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23333422)

Yeah I dunno, sequestration kinda makes sense. I think that rather than fighting the capitalists tooth and nail, the environmentalists need to look at how we can best find a compromise. Economics is always going to be the strongest driving force in any reduction in greenhouse emissions. We need to look at what are the most economically viable ways of achieving our goals visa-vis reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And at the moment, the most viable way is nuclear power, and carbon sequestration.

What I would like to see is a decentralisation of power production. Set up a scheme whereby households can generate their own green power (via solar panels, hyrdogen fuel cells, whatever) and sell the excess back into the grid. The power companies would eventually just become energy brokers rather than producers.

Not generating the CO2 Vs research value (2, Interesting)

univgeek (442857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23333426)

$126M buys 126000KW, i.e., 126MW of installed wind power. At a power factor of 30% this produces 38MW of power.

A coal powered plant would produce 300000 Tons of CO2 a year to generate this power. Three years of operation would mean 1M tons of CO2 not released into the atmosphere.

For a gas-powered plant, it would be 6 years. For an oil powered plant, 4 years.

A 38MW plant is not really much power, and is a drop in the bucket. On the other hand the research benefits from this project are not easily quantifiable. So I'd go with the research on this one!

References:
http://www.seen.org/pages/db/method.shtml [seen.org]
http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/econ/index.htm [windpower.org]
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