Answer in the pipeline

Am I missing something? The big focus in the power industry at present would appear to be carbon dioxide.

Many initiatives are under way to find ways of removing carbon dioxide from flue gases and then storing it somewhere. At the moment one of the favourite places for this carbon is in existing oil and gas wells where it can also assist in the extraction of the oil.

Power plants have an incentive to reduce their carbon dioxide output and a system of trading has been established to allow those with low emissions to sell credits to other plants with high emissions.

But surely gas pipelines are expensive? Most power stations are situated near centres of load which do not normally coincide with the oil/gas wells.

Why not just build carbon capture plants near to the oil/gas fields. The plants suck in the atmosphere, remove carbon dioxide, and put the rest back. They sell credits to the plants for the carbon dioxide they have removed and they can that they have captured to the oil fields to help extraction. This is the same principle as having the capture plants at the power stations, but instead of long expensive pipelines to carry the gas somewhere useful we just use the atmosphere.

Apart from this, there are also advantages in that the carbon dioxide capture plants themselves would be much simpler. The plants would not need to deal with all the other products of combustion and could be run at a constant rate without being affected by the electrical demand.


Richard King
by e-mail


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