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US Pulls Plug on Low-CO2 Powerplant Project

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the always-fun-to-breath dept.

United States 360

Geoffrey.landis writes "The administration announced plans to withdraw its support from FutureGen. FutureGen was a project to develop a low CO2-emission electrical power plant, supported by an alliance of a dozen or so coal companies and utilities from around the world. The new plant would have captured carbon dioxide produced by combustion and pumped it deep underground, to avoid releasing greenhouse-gas into the atmosphere. It had been intended as a prototype for next generation clean-coal plants worldwide. Originally budgeted at about a billion dollars, the estimated cost had "ballooned" to $1.8 billion, according to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman."

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Who cares (2, Insightful)

Pres. Ronald Reagan (659566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285084)

It was a stupid idea to begin with. Hey, let's spend billions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can't control anyway!

Re:Who cares (0, Redundant)

wish bot (265150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285092)

Don't know why parent was modded down so quickly - the whole premise of 'clean coal' powerplants is pretty much bunk. The money is far better spent on other alternatives.

Re:Who cares (4, Insightful)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285122)

'Clean' coal is one of the few alternative which would actually scale enough to be able to provide the energy we require. It's also something which should be possible within a reasonable timescale - certainly before oil starts to run out.

Sure, it's not a pancea - but it might be able to give us the time figure out how to exploit renewable energies cheaply and safely enough..

Re:Who cares (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285302)

Clean coal, fine. I'm sure there are ways to "scrub" CO2 if we think long and hard enough. Coal gasification plants for instance are said to be a lot cleaner than "conventional" coal plants, albeit not when it comes to the release of CO2 unfortunately, in fact a lot more CO2 is created. But maybe they'll find a way around that too. Pumping CO2 underground on the other hand, I'm sorry, but I have a hard time accepting that as a reasonable alternative. I'm far too afraid that this is just the same thinking as with nuclear energy. "Oh, we only have to store it for a few millenia and then it'll be perfectly safe." Yeah right, as if that stuff is actually going to stay down there, it's gas for crying out loud. What if a massive cloud of CO2 is released suddenly, due to a massive earthquake or whatnot? It's one thing to prevent CO2 from being created, it's quite another to try and "put it away" until the end of times... I'm not so sure that investing so much money into a project like this is really worth it. At best, it seems to me a temporary solution, with potentially fatal drawbacks later on. We shouldn't be thinking about how to put this stuff away, we need to think about ways of creating less of it! Alternative fuels, more fuel efficient cars (especially in the US!) and nuclear fusion, ESPECIALLY nuclear fusion.

Re:Who cares (2, Insightful)

jfim (1167051) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285384)

CO2 [wikipedia.org] is about 1.5 times heavier than air, so it will stay underground.

Re:Who cares (3, Informative)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285504)

Everyone knows it will stay underground, whey we're worried about is when it comes back up. Ever heard of Lake Nyos [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Who cares (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285428)

Pumping CO2 underground on the other hand, I'm sorry, but I have a hard time accepting that as a reasonable alternative.
Are you serious, or are you just trolling?

I'm far too afraid that this is just the same thinking as with nuclear energy.
Because Co2 is just as dangerous as radioactive waste?

as if that stuff is actually going to stay down there, it's gas for crying out loud.
Considering it's gonna be put into dry oil wells, what makes you think this is likely? Oil is a liquid, and it stayed put quite nicely.

What if a massive cloud of CO2 is released suddenly, due to a massive earthquake or whatnot?
This is an absurdist comment - you're saying that because there is a tiny, remote chance that Co2 might leak into the atmosphere, that we should just put it into the atmosphere first?

I mean come on - You can put it into the atmosphere now, in which case the damage happens instantly. Or you can sequester it, and in the extremely unlikely event of a leak, a small portion ends up in the atmosphere, and does a fraction of the damage later.

What's next? Advocating throwing innocent 10 year-olds in adult prison because they *might* break the law in 8 years time?

Modest Plea: stop abusing WHATCOULDPOSSIBLYGOWRONG (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285388)

First it was the "all your base belong to us"

Then it was "I welcome our ___ overlords"

Then it was the three step profit thing.

Then it was soviet union jokes.

Now the latest trend seems to tag everything "whatcouldpossiblygowrong." You know what? Every technological venture entails risks. If it weren't for risk takers, there'd be no pure silicon, no transistors, no fabs, no chips and our industry wouldn't be around. There'd be no cars, no rockets. There'd be no wheels even. So stop tagging everything with this anti-tech message. It's stupid.

Re:Modest Plea: stop abusing WHATCOULDPOSSIBLYGOWR (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285660)

If it weren't for risk takers, there'd be no pure silicon, no transistors, no fabs, no chips and our industry wouldn't be around.

When I take a risk and kill someone, I go to jail for manslaughter.

When Big Business takes a risk and kills 1000 someones, the CEO gets a bonus.

Because of the risk of punishment in return for misjudging risk, I take the time to research what I'm doing and implement safeguards and backups in order to reduce the risk as much as possible. History demonstrates that corporations cannot be bothered. They can't be bothered to do the research or create safeguards, and since the government is there to back them up, they rarely bother to insure themselves to a level matching the risk they're undertaking. After all, it's profitable to simply allow the corporation to go bankrupt, reform the board at ShellCorp Mk. II and buy back the original corporation's assets at firesale prices.

But go ahead, cheer on your unfettered capitalism as it refuses to learn from history and repeat the same fatal mistakes over and over. I'll be buying scuba gear and CO2 detectors for when the giant underground ballon of CO2 pops [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Who cares (1)

bgspence (155914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285682)

Clean solar scales even better, but only in places where the sun shines regularly.

Clean coal is a good alternative for the Arctic and Antarctic during their dark spells.

Re:Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285700)

What would happen if the CO2 was fed to algae and then the algae pumped into old oil wells or similar?

Re:Who cares (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285534)

My engineering department is the home of one of the most advanced coal research labs in the US - while you don't provide any reasoning for your statement that it's all "bunk", there is actually quite significant work going on, and this plant would have been a big testbed for it.

In all honesty, abandoning such a project seems like a big step backwards.

Re:Who cares (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285258)

No. We know we're polluting our own air and we like to do something about it.

Maybe not all of us, of course, because it's our god-given right to consume like maniacs and pollute like hell. The time when there is enough of everything is really over and invading iraq for their oil isn't going to help us in the long run. Yes, it sucks, but it's reality.

Re:Who cares (3, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285674)

you should care because it's a clear example of government lining the pockets of the energy industry with an obviously stupid plan.

Money well spend? (4, Insightful)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285088)

$1.8bill isn't a lot of money when compared to the cost of nuclear power, or the money spend blowing up parts of the Middle East..

Re:Money well spend? (4, Informative)

pcmanjon (735165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285136)

Bush announced this in his fiscal meeting. He actually canceled this project and re-allocated the funds to Iraq.

Re:Money well spend? (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285230)

I'm glad he knows what's really important...

Re:Money well spend? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285398)

Please provide proof of your claim. Looking at the quote, the U.S. Energy Secretary obviously played a role in making this decision, and the project clearly exceeded its budget.

Re:Money well spend? (4, Informative)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285168)

Not saying whether it's a good idea or not, but to put it into perspective: the entire cost of the coal project is equal to 10-11 days of expenditures in Iraq.

Re:Money well spend? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285312)

Not saying whether it's a good idea or not, but to put it into perspective: the entire cost of the coal project is equal to 10-11 days of expenditures in Iraq.
It's fucking TERRORISTS like YOU that will allow the MUSLIMS to take over the world, rape your women, and spread disease. If nothing else, think of the children. Muslim women WANT TO KILL YOU! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,327938,00.html [foxnews.com]

Re:Money well spent? (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285262)

Flamebait?

It's pretty valid comparing the cost of clean coal to the cost of Nuclear or Oil? Should I have phrased it a little different? I.e. spell out the cost of ensuring a steady supply of oil is, erm, enormous?

Re:Money well spent? (5, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285338)

You should indeed. Nuclear power is well understood and bringing a new reactor online can be done with technology which is already available.

The objection that I have to this program was that it was an experiment, a costly one, with no guarantees of future success. Nuclear energy isn't a panacea or necessarily the best of ideas, but the risks and challenges are well known and it can already be used to produce energy in a cost effective manner.

Most of the complaints people have about the current Fission reactors is that they are unsafe and the waste is toxic and hard to handle. But the reality is that it is really hard to get a nuclear reactor to reach a meltdown. Even the plant in Chernobyl which was being run in the least competent manner imaginable, was able to keep from reaching the really serious point where there's a sustained uncontrolled nuclear reaction. 3-mile island, the nuclear material was completely unable to make it past the huge amount of concrete that the facility was made of.

The amount of waste from a reactor tends to be exaggerated, it is significantly less material than is created by coal plants, with the ability to reprocess the majority of the radioactive material for another plant. The amount of waste that is created in the US would be reduced significantly if it were subjected to the sort of reprocessing that happens in other parts of the world.

Re:Money well spent? (5, Interesting)

tm2b (42473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285472)

The objection that I have to this program was that it was an experiment, a costly one, with no guarantees of future success.
You know, I'm a big fan of nuclear power and not so much of coal. Still.

If there were guarantees of future success, it wouldn't be much of an experiment. It's worth our pouring a lot of money (but still microscopic compared to our overall energy expenditures) into ambitious experiments just so that we learn the full range of options and their implications - if we learned, we example, from this experiment that "low Co2 coal" is much more dangerous and expensive (for whatever reason) than the coal industry would like us to believe, wouldn't that be worth a mere couple billion dollars?

Re:Money well spent? (4, Insightful)

jfim (1167051) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285532)

The objection that I have to this program was that it was an experiment, a costly one, with no guarantees of future success.
The fact that there were no guarantees of success is what makes research interesting and worth it. If you're only researching things that you're certain will lead somewhere, only incremental improvements are possible. On the other hand, fundamental research has no guarantee of finding something useful, but can lead to major breakthroughs(or not).

Re:Money well spent? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285628)

I can't imagine that fear mongering wackjobs like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are actually behind our abandonment of nuclear energy. And that begs a very serious question...

Re:Money well spent? (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285650)

Yes, for example, people are always complaining about the half-life of radioactive waste.. but what exactly is the half-life of carbon-dioxide? At least the waste from fission reactors can be processed and stored easily.. the same cannot be said for CO2.

Re:Money well spent? (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285578)

comparing everything to spending in iraq is why you got flambait. these days everyone is comparing spending to iraq, when its very rarely a good comparison.

Re:Money well spent? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285722)

these days everyone is comparing spending to iraq,when its very rarely a good comparison.

That's right, since Iraq is costing us orders of magnitude more than almost anything else. We really should be using more reasonable units like milliIraqs.

Re:Money well spent? (1)

phulegart (997083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285730)

Automatically deciding that if something is compared to what is happening in Iraq, then it should be flamebait... that's just wrong.

Way too much money is being spent CURRENTLY on a situation that has gone on far too long, and that just about everyone agrees is a mistake for one reason or another. Since a vast majority believe that it was a mistake to go over there, or to still be there, we can safely look at the countless millions (billions?) that are being used to fund that ongoing issue.

Now, if our President decides that 1.8 billion is too much to spend on a project that *might* actually be worthwhile, while he is CURRENTLY spending far greater sums on a "project" that is not as worthwhile, why can't a comparison be discussed without it being considered flamebait?

Who cares if people don't like how *everything* is being compared to what is going on in Iraq? If the comparison is valid, they should suck it up. Too many things are swept under the rug just because people are tired of hearing about it.

Re:Money well spend? (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285450)

$1.8bill isn't a lot of money when compared to the cost of nuclear power


Rubbish. Over in Britain the royal academy of engineering compared costs of nuclear ( yes, including decommissioning costs) to that of various energy sources: http://www.countryguardian.net/generation_costs_report2.pdf [countryguardian.net] . Essentially, while nuclear is expensive to build, the overall cost is comparable to coal fired power plants due to the low cost of fuel, and if you add on carbon capture and storage then the cost of coal overtakes nuclear rapidly.

A further thing to take into consideration is that increased energy consumption across the world combined with decreasing oil reserves is likely to drive up the price of coal/uranium. Since the fuel is a much lower proportion of the cost of nuclear power than it is for coal power this is likely to have a much lower impact upon the cost of nuclear power than for coal.

Finally, since nuclear power technology is advancing rapidly at the moment ( High temperature reactors around 2016 , breeders by 2025 , high efficiency hydrogen estimated 2030 ) the cost of nuclear plants is likely to drop ( per kilowatt generated ), while the cost of coal plants is likely to spike due to tighter emission standards.

The capture and storage research is worth it mainly because we can't expand other energy sources quick enough. In the long term it is not going to be economically competitive.

Re:Money well spend? (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285554)

Good point though, as energy prices increase then nuclear will become more cost effective. It's probably less environmentally damaging too, as you need so much less of the stuff than you do fossil fuels.

Papers here (in UK) were suggesting that the costs for Nuclear are being massively underestimated, and that the *net* . That was back when there was talk of replacing the current power stations, so may well have been more greenie FUD.

Just saw this on the BBC from 2005:

> Nuclear electricity has been reported to be cheaper than
> gas as long as oil is more expensive than $28 a barrel.
> It's currently above the $50 mark

That'd make Nuclear the ideal choice for energy, given that Oil's over $100 a barrel (though the dollar then was worth a third more).

Re:Money well spend? (4, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285632)

sorry but when i compare the OP's source of the royal academy of engineering vs UK papers, i have to say you'd be crazy to not go with the engineers who actually know something about nuclear power.

there's no "probably" about nuclear being safer, it's a simple fact.

there's always 2 things greenies try to call on nuclear - cost and life span. firstly while nuclear costs more initally, it's running costs see it break even with coal in 5 years. life span they will try tell you we only have 5 years of fissionable material - i make it clear right now they got that figure from the fact we have 5 years IF we all swapped to nuclear TODAY and relied totally on STOCKPILES. that means we didn't dig another ton out of the ground and didn't look for more. we also have breeder reactors which extend a plants life indefinately.

Re:Money well spend? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285636)

The problem is you have to run a Nuclear power plant for 5 years + beyond its useful life to decomission it (and they only last about 40 years).. during that time it's consuming resources (manpower and cash at the mimimum - Sizewell A needs 100 employees on site 24/7), and after decomssioning renders the site uninhabitable for 100 years.

Nuclear has become an option due to CO2 concerned after it was largely abandoned in the 90's, but it's not because it's cheaper.

Re:Money well spend? (1, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285530)

Isn't the war in Iraq great? A project goes $800,000,000 over budget and it's all fine and dandy and, to the Slashdot crowd, it gets a free pass because the war in Iraq costs more. Can't we at least give a nod to the fact that they're absurdly over budget, and entertain the possibility that they're just frittering away money wastefully?
Yeah, so the funds are going to the iraq war and we all looooove to hate it. But here's some news for you: money's fungible; it'd all have to come out of the same taxes anyway. (From a quick glance at the numbers, $1.8 billion is somewhere between $3 and $6 out of my pocket. That's as much as whole bag of grapefruit, you know. And I like grapefruit.)

Re:Money well spend? (1)

calixaren (1116263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285566)

please, stop this nonsences an use your brains, use nuclear power!

I'd like to note (4, Insightful)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285096)

I'd like to note that $1 billion is about what the government spends on each of the new modern military aircraft that they purchase. If we just took a little out of the defense budget, the cost of something like this, which is a PROTOTYPE and expected to be expensive, wouldn't be as much of an issue.

Re:I'd like to note (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285574)

Which aircraft are you referring to? The F-22 is, as far as I know, the most expensive aircraft, in per-unit terms, currently being purchased by the US military. The F-22 costs less than $150 million each when considered incrementally. Even taking the entire program's cost and dividing by the total number planned to be purchased, which is faulty numbers but a popular way to count, the cost per aircraft is only about $339 million. Even the B-2, almost certainly the most expensive plane produced for the US military, cost significantly under $1 billion per unit incrementally, and they are no longer in production.

Your overall point is pretty good, but your numbers are vastly inflated and this tends to weaken your point rather significantly.

Re:I'd like to note (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285694)

Depending on which set of numbers you take, the B2 costs anywhere between almost a billion to 2.2 billion per plane.

Re:I'd like to note (3, Informative)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285708)

IIRC, our B-2 stealth bombers were purchased for approximately 1 billion each. That was the figure I remember being quoted most often. The shining bastion of accuracy and credibility Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] cites the unit price as being between "$727 million to $2.2 billion"

Figures... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285104)

Sometimes the only way to move forwards is for something bad [nimp.org] to happen. :(

WARNING: GNAA (3, Informative)

SirBudgington (1232290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285202)

Don't click the above link, it's got some nasty javascript in there. Tries to open a load of popups, kills Firefox (even on linux). Save yourself the hassle and don't click....

Re:WARNING: GNAA (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285564)

Which is why Man created NoScript [noscript.net] (firefox addon)

Morons! (1)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285106)

You blithering idiots! If given a choice between sucking on a black cloud of death, or not, I would choose not. I'm sure that Congress is wasting that much grandstanding with the major league baseball steroid inquiry that is before them, AGAIN.

Re:Morons! (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285616)

You blithering idiots! If given a choice between sucking on a black cloud of death, or not, I would choose not.
Well, good for you, but that's not the issue here. Carbon dioxide is not "a black cloud of death".

1.8 billion?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285120)

how about (and i know this is crazy) we build a modern nuke plant for 2X the price
and get 10X the power!

I know its crazy, but it just might work.... wait... IT DOES WORK!

Re:1.8 billion?? (1, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285142)

Too many NIMBY and "nukes are bad, evil monsters who will eat your babies" weenies in the way of nuclear power.

Re:1.8 billion?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285186)

The problem is that unless you're talking thorium or fusion you're not talking long term, and if you are you're not talking near term. This is compounded by the fact the US is adverse to producing and then burning plutonium, which is far more efficent. Coal on the other hand there is a lot of. Near by. Fixing the dirty would in coal go a long way to solving energy independance.

Big Nuclear Fusion Reactor to Provide Free Energy (2, Insightful)

FromTheAir (938543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285124)

and it's floating over head, and requires no maintenance.

Sure... (4, Insightful)

Goonie (8651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285170)

And it's only available 12 hours a day, costs a fortune to tap (and if you mention Nanosolar I suggest you call them up and offer them $1 per watt for their solar panels - the only response you'll get is fits of giggles), and battery backup is extremely expensive. The world's total solar power capacity is roughly equivalent to one unit of your average coal-fired power station. And while solar cells are large maintenance free, solar thermal power, which the people who've looked into the issue generally regard as a more serious solution, is not.

Please go away and actually do some research into the costs of the various energy options, and you might appreciate why research into carbon capture and storage is money well spent.

Re:Sure... (2, Insightful)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285432)

[solar energy is] only available 12 hours a day [...] and battery backup is extremely expensive

Those two tired-old bullshit arguments won't matter until there is more solar capacity online than we can use in real time, which won't happen for two decades under even the most favorable set of assumptions.

Re:Sure... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285646)

How many batteries and solar panels can you buy for $1.8 billion dollars?

Re:Big Nuclear Fusion Reactor to Provide Free Ener (1)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285468)

Oh, except that congress just cut all funding for ITER [forbes.com] , the international thermonuclear experimental (fusion) reactor.

So no fusion, no coal, no basic research. It's all oil all the time.

Re:Big Nuclear Fusion Reactor to Provide Free Ener (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285576)

You must be American. He's talking about the Sun. Woosh.

Re:Big Nuclear Fusion Reactor to Provide Free Ener (1)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285714)

Haaaaaa ha ha!

Okay, time for bed...

Re:Big Nuclear Fusion Reactor to Provide Free Ener (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285588)

Are you freaking kidding me? Do you have any idea how much harmfull radiation that thing puts out?? Not In My Backyard!

No big deal. (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285138)

Clean coal isn't. Pumping CO2 underground is not a permanent solution. The Actual Solution is: STOP USING FOSSIL FUELS. NOW.

If you can't / won't do it NOW, then the long emergency will get longer. And Darker. No, it's not the end of the world. It's just a new world we won't recognise, and one that won't likely permit 7 billion people shitting all over it.

You can buy a shit load of grid tied windmills for 1.8 billion dollars...

RS

Re:No big deal. (5, Insightful)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285166)

You can buy a shit load of grid tied windmills for 1.8 billion dollars...
Yes, but the fact is coal companies (who were supporting this FutureGen project) probably wouldn't.

- RG>

Re:No big deal. (2, Insightful)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285180)

Pumping CO2 underground is not a permanent solution. The Actual Solution is: STOP USING FOSSIL FUELS. NOW.

Burning Fossil Fuels = pumping CO2 from underground.

So what's wrong with putting the extra CO2 back where it came from? Assuming we have an effective method for doing so, of course.

Re:No big deal. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285668)

So what's wrong with putting the extra CO2 back where it came from?
Because you're relying on fuels that are becoming increasingly scarce. It's clean, but will it serve our needs for the next 50 years?

Re:No big deal. (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285194)

> You can buy a shit load of grid tied windmills for 1.8 billion dollars...

But Not In My Back Yard!

Re:No big deal. (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285252)

You can buy a shit load of grid tied windmills for 1.8 billion dollars

I must say you have a very good point there.

I wonder why they don't find something more constructive to do with all that CO2? Plants use water and sun to split CO2 and release O2, why can't we either make something that does that, or use plants to do it for us? I don't know, something like a giant version of what looks like a waste treatment plant. (with the large covered pools)

Is the rate of absorption too slow for that, where they'd need an unreasonably large biomass, or what's the problem?

Pumping CO2 undergound to get rid of it is about as forward-thinking as landfills. Burying it doesn't make it go away, it just makes it resurface well after you're dead. (and your elections are over)

Re:No big deal. (2, Informative)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285434)

Well, for one thing, it would require a rather large amount of energy to turn CO2 into O2 and C. More then you would get from burning the coal in the first place, so it is rather counter productive.

Re:No big deal. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285458)

Is the rate of absorption too slow for that, where they'd need an unreasonably large biomass, or what's the problem?

The problem is the need for a huge amount of biomass and huge amount of energy to keep the process going. (For instance, here in the US Pacific Northwest, you'll need considerable heating capacity for a good chunk of the year.)

Soda pop. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285582)

I wonder why they don't find something more constructive to do with all that CO2?

Can't we just double carbonate our soda drinks? Problem solved.

Jolt Cola: All the sugar and twice the caffeine. Now with double the green-house gases.

Re:Soda pop. (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285720)

Jolt Cola: All the sugar and twice the caffeine. Now with double the green-house gases.

And you can add: Directly from our "clean" coal power stations.

Re:No big deal. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285710)

We are using plants to absorb CO2 from power plant effluent, I don't have the URL handy but one experimental plant in Arizona had to be shut down because the algae the were growing grew too well and clogged up the works. algae can be up to 50% oil which can be used for food oil or biodeisel. using the oil for biodeisel isn't exactly carbon neutral but it's better than burn coal for electicity then still burning petro-deisel for transportaion. The only draw-back is the plants only absorb CO2 during the day.

Re:No big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285324)

"Pumping CO2 underground is not a permanent solution."

Natural gas deposits managed to stay underground for over 300,000,000 years. That is long enough for human purposes.

Re:No big deal. (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285506)

Yes, but humans don't exactly have a great track record with underground dumping.

I remember doing a little research on CO2 sequestering a little while back for an ethics class. The problem isn't so much the idea itself but the implementation...most companies simply do not want to spend enough to create deposits that will last for, as you said, 300,000,000 years, and instead are trying to fill old coal and oil deposits without making sure they can hold that much gas. They really don't care though: they'll all be dead in 100 years anyway.

YOU FIRST! (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285418)

Good idea. And since it is your idea, you go first. No gas heat or fossil-fuel-generated electricity, no fossil-fuel automobile, no snow blower, snowmobile, dirt bike, lawnmower, and no... plastics.

As of NOW.

Have a nice day. :o)

Re:No big deal. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285430)

You can buy a shit load of grid tied windmills for 1.8 billion dollars...

Sure - but that won't actually noticeably decrease pollution and CO2 release once you factor in the need to keep some other form of generation in hot standby for when the wind isn't blowing.

Re:No big deal. (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285486)

Yup, let's just drop everything, scrap our entire fossil-fuel-based energy infrastructure, and replace it (overnight, of course) with wind, solar, and good intentions.

Folks wonder why reasonable alternative energy proposals never see the light of day. Perhaps it has something to do with the cause having mouthpieces like you.

Re:No big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285496)

The timescale for climate change is in hundreds of years while the timescale for CO2 removal by sedimentation is in the thousands of years. If you can keep the CO2 contained for a couple thousand years then it will actually be a permanent solution.

Is it just me ... (1)

The Sith Lord (111494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285146)

... or is pumping CO2 underground a stupid idea ?

Re:Is it just me ... (1)

dfetter (2035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285212)

It's not just you. The failure modes here include, "sudden release of x years' worth of CO2," which sounds like a pretty bad failure mode to me.

Re:Is it just me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285246)

A cloud of unbreathable CO2 envelopes the area, killing all those organisms that require oxygen to survive.

Re:Is it just me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285268)

Look up C02 injection. I live in an area where they have been doing it for nearly 30 years. No explosions yet.

Re:Is it just me ... (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285282)

Ah, but when there is a leak, that is 30+ years of CO2 coming at your ass as a giant semi-visible Death Cloud. Makes me feel SOOOO much safer than living next to a nuclear plant.

Stop-gap (4, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285264)

My interpretation is that this would be a stop-gap until we can develop an efficient means of using renewable energy. Why?

Shifting reliance from oil to coal would "Make America safer!" because the US is like the Saudi Arabia of coal
China is building powerplants like crazy, and guess what they're using? COAL
Storing CO2 underground is a temporary solution, but it would buy us some more time to develop means of converting it into something in another physical state (gas or liquid). Then perhaps we could begin to fill up those oil fields we've been draining for the past hundred & some odd years.

Re:Stop-gap (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285654)

Of course we already have a viable, clean, relatively inexpensive energy source; we just need to invest in building more power plants.

Of course, the greens will have nothing to do with the "N-word", so instead we continue to belch pollution and radiation out of smoke stacks. Brilliant.

Not only stupid - Very Dangerous (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285604)

If the gas would escape due to an accident or earth quake, lots of people can be killed.

Cost (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285162)

So the cost increased by just slightly more than the Iraq war is costing us every three days? That says magnitudes doesn't it?

Pumping into the ground perhaps not a great idea (3, Interesting)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285172)

I don't know the details of their plan, but it seems unlikely to me that there can be any realistic expectation that when you pump CO2 into the ground, however deep, that it's going to stay there.

In the 1960s, Rocky Mountain Arsenal tried to get rid of waste by pumping it into the ground. When they started doing that, there was an increase in seismic activity in the region, including several earthquakes that caused significant damage. When they finally stopped doing it, the seismic activity tapered off.

Yes, there can (5, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285216)

The scientists who are working on this give several reasons as to why it's plausible.

If you're pumping the CO2 into a depleted gas field, that gas field captured natural gas for many millions of years. Another type of disposal site that's been proposed is deep saline acquifers, in which case the CO2 will dissolve in the water, which has also stayed where it is for millions of years.

Finally, if you're really paranoid there's mineral sequestration, where you react the CO2 with various types of rock to form carbonates, which are very stable compounds (they're rocks, basically).

Re:Yes, there can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285328)

Another type of disposal site that's been proposed is deep saline acquifers, in which case the CO2 will dissolve in the water, which has also stayed where it is for millions of years.

Not correct. It will take just a few hundred to a few
thousand years for the shit to come up.

An aquifer is something where water flows through
at relatively fast speeds. If you want to put waste deep
underground, you better put it under thick
almost impermeable layers, such as below a few hundred meters
of clay. The clay layer would have to be sizeable
in the horizontal direction, or the water would just flow around it ...

Thomas

Re:Yes, there can (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285544)

Just don't let them meet the remains of the second method? :)

Good. That's a brain-dead idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285236)

Electricity is already expensive. Some crazy unworkable scheme like this is going to make it even more expensive. The environmental problems are still there. Does this CO2 stay in the ground forever, or does it merely leak up over the next few decades? And the environmental problems of coal also include the damage caused by mining it. And coal mining isn't any safer for the workers this way.

$1.8bil could have paid for a new-generation nuclear plant which would produce a 1gigawatt of power for decades, at low costs, with no coal and no CO2 involved.

Re:Good. That's a brain-dead idea (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285354)

Expensive is relative. In the U.S., I would say that it is pretty cheap at the meter, most people can pay for their monthly electric with ~1/2 or 1 days wages. The conveniences provided save a great deal more time than that(each month).

Clean Coal Confusion (1)

DeftPunk79 (1232522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285286)

Clean Coal is not just pumping the CO2 underground. It is reducing the concentration of CO2 and other pollutants (nitrates and particles) in the exhaust of power plants through the use of various technologies. These include CO2 scrubbing, sequestration, and mixture of the coal with with nitrate absorbing materials prior to consumption. The reason the backing was pulled for this plan was because the actual clean coal technologies have advanced a lot over the past 5 or 6 years and implementation into existing plants is cheap and effective. So people have realised that the very idea of puming the gas underground was dangerous, costly, and ineffective.

Why it was cancelled (5, Interesting)

jeffgtr (929361) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285314)

I live near the site Futuregen was to be built. There was fierce competition between Illinois and Texas for the location of the plant. Illinois was chosen based on science not politics. I have heard that Bush was furious that Texas was not chosen, pulled a few strings and the project was cancelled. From what I have read this was a technology that would work and let us take advantage of the abundant coal supplies without damaging the environment.

Re:Why it was cancelled (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285718)

I have heard that Bush was furious that Texas was not chosen, pulled a few strings and the project was cancelled.

If there is any truth to that rumour, that alone is reason enough to drag the man out on the streets and put him up against a wall. Not to mention the rest of the hideous crimes he has committed. Why on earth have the american public - one which is so proud of its supposed ability to take down a corrupt government - not executed this man yet?

Is it me ? (1)

DirtyFly (765689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285334)

I really don't get it, we are looking for an alternative to oil and instead of researching renewable sources we are dumping money into yet another fossil fuel ? How stupid is that ?

Feeding a dead cat (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285402)

because that is about as good as spending money on clean coal is. At the end of the day it's not a 100% solution and the electricity generated is hellishly expensive without lots of money from tax payers. The question is do tax payers want to finance the coal industry when part of the extraction procedure is to devastate the environment. I view clean coal along the lines of someone with a product that has become socially unacceptable and promising with billions of your money we may be able to make you like it even though its a half assed and expensive solution that doesnt change the product.

The point isn't about using "clean" coal instead.. (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285414)

...of oil. The point is to start using clean "something". Let's use some clean coal. And maybe a few windmills. And build some solar panels and tidal force power plants. And some nuclear power plants. And cultivate the seas for algae, while growing various biofuels on the earth. Let's do it all, and let market forces decide which ones stick (hint: it'll probably be a combination of some of the above).

In the other news... (1)

Venik (915777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285454)

In the other news - the defense budget is biggest since WWII.

Cuba and Renewable Energy (1, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285522)

One of the reasons it's been an American policy to keep Cuba under embargo is because they are a symbol of success without American support in the Western Hemisphere. Originally, I think, military planners were genuinely scared of the ideological impact of a successful Cuba, despite the fact that they were no more propped up from Russia than Japan was from the United States. Now, businesses, mostly in the aeronautical and arms industries prop up the failed foreign policies of the 60s through the 80s in order to continue making money hand over fist.

Now, oddly enough, Cuba is the only western civilization to have passed peak oil (Brazil could also be a candidate depending on your definition). When the Soviet Union collapsed, the cheap oil flowing into the country stopped almost overnight, and they were forced to transition from a car-based, petrochemical powered agriculture industry to human powered travel and (by necessity) organic, renewable farming. It's one of the reasons Cubans live far longer than Americans.

I think it's funny that the embargo has actually helped Cuba far more than being a part of our sphere of influence. Our decision to try to ostracize them for being independent has only made the advantages far more obvious, otherwise it would have been turned into another Puerto Rico, and they'd be facing far more challenges in the future as a result.

Re:Cuba and Renewable Energy (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285680)

One of the reasons it's been an American policy to keep Cuba under embargo is because they are a symbol of success without American support in the Western Hemisphere.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Oh....my...god....

I'm wiping away tears here!

It's one of the reasons Cubans live far longer than Americans.
Cuban life expectancy: 77.08
American life Expectancy: 78.2

You really need to check your sources of propaganda, boy.

Thanks for the laughs!

Ground disposal of CO2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285560)

Why are we looking to trade one version of toxic pollution for another. We need to find real " clean " energy alternatives. Someone mentioned China is using coal, yes they are and polluting their air and cities as well, all in the name of progress. I agree with the person who said we could put a heck of a lot of windmills on the grid for 1.8 billion. We should mandate windmills and solar energy arrays on all federal and state government properties by say 2012. If anything it can at least reduce the cost of government utilities and drive the cost of these products down for us.

Ray

Good decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22285648)

Pressing carbon dioxide into underground cavities is an extremely stupid idea. Nobody knows how long it will stay there and what side effects it has. The only use of this technology is to deflect criticism for still burning insane amounts of fossil fuel (or organic fuel that destroys rainforests and starves people). The US even got away with boycotting Kyoto, so I guess the pressure on the US government just isn't big enough to make them recur to that sort of window dressing.

Another problem solved! (1)

Shabadage (1037824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285666)

Another problem solved by burying it in the ground! It worked for ET!

Mole Men (3, Funny)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22285696)

Thank God the goverment had the foresight to cancel this project. Although it may have helped stop climate change, it would have flooded the underground with CO2, causing angry mole-men to declare war on us surface dwellers. I am thankful to delay the welcoming of our mole-men overloards.
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