BP pulls out of ‘carbon capture’ power station competition.


BP has pulled out of the UK government’s competition to build a prototype power station that will capture and store its carbon dioxide emissions, in a setback to plans to develop technologies for cutting the output of greenhouse gases while continuing to use fossil fuels.

Britain’s biggest energy company will instead focus its carbon capture programme on its joint venture with Rio Tinto, the mining group, which is developing projects in California and Abu Dhabi.

Shell recently pulled out of a UK government energy initiative, withdrawing from the London Array wind turbine project and citing better projects in the US. BP’s has also taken the decision to focus its wind power business on the US, where most of its activity is concentrated.

The government is offering a subsidy of several hundred million pounds to the competition winner, to build an integrated project including a coal-fired power station and equipment to separate carbon dioxide from the waste gases and take care of storage.

The winner is to be chosen as the preferred bidder by the end of next year, with the aim of having the project in operation by the end of 2014. Four groups made the shortlist chosen by the government over the summer: BP, Eon UK, ScottishPower and Peel Holdings.

BP last month told the Department of Energy and Climate Change that it would drop out, having failed to find a partner with coal-fired power generation experience.

Jeff Chapman, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said he was “concerned” that the timetable for the competition appeared to be slipping. He said Britain needed to grasp carbon capture and storage as a matter of urgency. See CCSA membership list here.

Politicians around the world appear to be warming to the idea of carbon capture, banning new build coal fired power stations that don’t incorporate CCS into their plans. See here for useful summary.

Low-tech magazine has a very interesting, comprehensive & useful post on the prospects for carbon capture. The problem at hand is that the process of capturing, transporting and storing carbon dioxide requires a vast amount of energy.

It lays out the various options being looked at but points out that storing CO2 is – just like storing atomic waste – a very irresponsible thing to do in respect to future generations. Will people in 2178 still know where CO2 was stored? Will the corks hold until that date? Risk analysis does not seem to look too far ahead.

Low-tech suggests channelling the huge amounts of money needed for the development of CCS to countries with tropical rainforests instead, so that they have a very good reason to protect them.

Stopping deforestation, especially in tropical forests, would contribute more to the fight against global warming than carbon capture technology could ever do.

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8 Responses to BP pulls out of ‘carbon capture’ power station competition.

  1. the Grit says:

    Excellent post! And most refreshing to read as the press here in the US would never dare mention the similarity between nuclear waste storage and doing the same for CO2. Really, another year or so of propaganda and I might have doubted my initial thought that such schemes were stupid. Thanks!

    I particularly like the ending about deforestation. Not that I believe in Global Warming, but I have a deep love for forests. I spent two years living in the central prairies of Canada, where outside of the city there wasn’t a tree to be seen, and that lack of large plants still gives me nightmares.

    On a positive note, at least the United States is doing its part in this area, as we have had a positive growth in percent of forested land for several years now. Also, I’m doing my part as well, since I’m letting 60 acres or so of what used to be pasture land revert to natural forest. I’m also saving up to buy one of those motion sensitive cameras that you strap to a tree to photograph wildlife. I’m champing at the bit to see what sorts of critters are roaming around on my property. I’ll send y’all pictures when I get them.

    the Grit

  2. matt says:

    Pictures of wild little critters roaming the Memphis outback … yes please Grit! Must say I was happy with that post too as it cleared up a lot of my waverings on the topic of carbon capture. As they say over here … it’s a load of bollocks!

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    It may be a while before we can swing the camera cost, but I’m hoping Santa can afford it. Oh, and some of the critters aren’t little. There’s at least one buck around here that’s almost a big as I am, and that ain’t small 😉 On a related note, one of my neighbors swears he shot (at) a six foot long alligator in my lake last week. I haven’t been able to find a corpse (like I really believed there was a gator this far north) so he either missed, some poor floating log got wounded, or…

    I really like the “bollocks” expression. So much so that I’m afraid to look up the meaning, as it might spoil my appreciation of it.

    the Grit

  4. earthpal says:

    Yes, great article. It really is an insane irony that governments are plowing pots of money into these carbon storage ventures while at the same time, allowing the natural carbon sinks of the world to be willfully destroyed.

    Yes, we absolutely should be funding forests, not carbon capture.

    Grit, I would love to see some pictures of your back garden wildlife.

  5. matt says:

    Grit’s too worried that the FBI will match his wild revolutionary comments to his wild friends in his forest – no images! 🙂

  6. the Grit says:

    Hi e,

    The camera is on my Xmas wish list, and we’ll see what the new year brings. Keeping my fingers crossed. Oh, and I just found an Internet site that sells them for less than $100. Amazing. I may be able to get one even if Santa doesn’t cooperate.

    Hi matt,

    Well, over here one can’t be too careful. I’ve had to run Greenpeace twits off my property a couple of times when I caught them sneaking around looking for reasons to let the Government tell me what I can and can’t do with my farm. Once I even had to show them a gun to motivate their leaving. Plus, on top of the potential Government troubles, you just have to know that these are the kind of people who, while trespassing, would sue you into bankruptcy if they suffered any minor injury on your land. On the other hand, if they had been rational enough to ask, and sign damage wavers, I would have been more than happy to give them a tour. Idiots.

    Oh, and it’s not the FBI that worries me. That would be lawyers. I know y’all have your own problems, but you should be most thankful that the curse of lawyers waiting to swoop down on you at any time and ruin your life isn’t on your list.

    Wild revolutionary comments? Isn’t that the point of this blog 🙂

    the Grit

  7. matt says:

    What on earth were Greenpeace activists doing sneaking about your farm; activist training? They weren’t speaking Arabic I hope! Environmental jihad. MI5 will be popping by now. 🙂

  8. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    We have 3 or 4 acres of bog below our lake and one of the “green” issues over here is preservation of wetlands, and I’m thinking that’s what they were checking out. It’s almost to the point where you can’t fill in a mud hole in your back yard without a Government permit, and they were probably looking for something to make a court case over.

    Of course, if they had bothered to ask, I’d have told them that there was no practical way of drying up that bit of land as it was a swamp because of the overflow from the lake and a couple of natural springs that bubble up at that point, so there was no need to worry that I, or anyone else, would ever do anything to it. I’d bet they didn’t ask because that wouldn’t get their activist juices flowing. Kids.

    Mostly, I was firm about running them off because that section of the farm is thick with poisonous water snakes, and they were wading around without proper protective clothing. Oh, and for full understanding you have to know that our legal system has decided the property owner is responsible for injuries to visitors, even those who are trespassing. There have been several cases where buglers were injured while robbing a home, who sued the owner for damages – and won! This is why we pay more for liability insurance than for property taxes.

    As for the language spoken by these youngsters, it wasn’t Arabic, but it wasn’t really English either. The words, “man, dude, nature, corporate pig, and like,” made up most of their side of the conversation, which made it difficult to grasp their meaning, and suggests that they were speaking in some new and still evolving dialect for radical activists. There’s probably a Government funded research project or three studying it, and when I come across their results I’ll forward it to you.

    As to the possibility of Government officials dropping by, it’s not likely. The last time that happened was when a State employee decided that personally checking out the proposed route for a new road might be a good idea before they started up with the bulldozers. He, I must say, actually had the sense to ask if he could look around, and I gave him the tour, which included an old cemetery for slaves on the corner of our property, that was directly in the path of the proposed paving. I saved them several millions on that project, and a few acres of ancestral land, and got not even a thank-you letter. Government!

    Oh, and I’d be interested in seeing something about how the current economic troubles are affecting alternative energy and environmental efforts over there. Lower fuel prices and lack of credit are screwing up that sort of thing over here left and right and, since y’all seem to be a step ahead of us in these things, knowing your situation would be like having a crystal ball for me.

    Keep up the good work,
    the Grit

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