While the ability to capture CO2 from coal-fired and natural gas power plants remains under investigation, and the ability to store CO2 underground remains in doubt, people are now looking at what it would take to transport the CO2 from where it’s been captured to where it might be sequestered.
The second edition of Carbon Folly contains a map that I prepared showing where CO2 pipelines might have to be built in the United States.
The map is based on transporting CO2 from 417 coal-fired power plants, rated 100 MW and above, to locations where it might be possible to sequester the CO2. The map does not include pipelines for transporting CO2 from the remaining coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants or from cement mills and other industrial operations, such as steel mills.
The total length of the pipelines shown in the map is nearly 11,000 miles.
In November 2011, the CO2Europipe project published a map showing where CO2 pipelines would be needed in Europe by 2050.
There were some important differences between the two approaches.
- While my projections limited transporting CO2 from only 417 coal-fired power plants, the CO2Europipe project included industrial locations, such as steel mills. It also grouped point sources into clusters.
- The CO2Europipe project also included underwater pipelines to allow sequestration under the North Sea.
- The projected cost of the European pipeline was about $68 billion, or roughly three times my estimate. Part of the difference is caused by the higher cost of pipelines routed underwater. The CO2Europipe project also had more engineers working on the project, which probably resulted in more detailed estimates.
- The European pipeline would also cross country borders. Cross border issues complicate construction, funding and sequestration. Local popular discontent with CO2 sequestration is complicating decision making.
There were also some similarities between my projections and those of the CO2Europipe project.
- The CO2Europipe project concluded there would be a need for at least 13,000 miles of pipelines.
- The CO2Europipe report also reiterated there would be safety issues when transporting CO2 at high pressures of approximately 2,000 psi. Issues surrounding the purity of the CO2 stream, mixing of different streams and prevention of crack propagation are examples.
- The report also reiterated the fact that locations for sequestering CO2 had not been properly evaluated.
Carbon Folly contains more detailed information about CCS and the pipelines required for transporting CO2. Carbon Folly also explores other related issues. See www.carbonfolly.com
The EU study of CO2 transportation issues, coupled with problems surrounding CO2 capture and sequestration, reinforces the impression that CCS is a boondoggle that should be abandoned.
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