Carbon Storage Home Truths


From: Frederick May [mailto:]

Sent: 10 October 2009 12:14


Subject: Carbon Storage home truths

Dear Sir,

A government advisor apparently seriously suggests (Saturday 10 October) that carbon dioxide be stored under people’s homes in towns and other areas. Here are some salient facts about CO2 generation in the United Kingdom:

1. The single largest coal-powered electricity generating station (Drax) is responsible for about 10% of UK fossil-fuel based electricity supply and alone produces around 22-25 million tonnes of CO2 each year. In the liquid state this corresponds to around 20 million cubic metres in volume.

2. To store this enormous volume would require over 15000 miles of 40 inch diameter pipe about eight times around the coast of Great Britain or about 200 caverns the size of the Albert Hall each year. And remember this is for only 10% of our fossil-fuelled electricity supply.

3. To maintain CO2 in the liquid state requires a minimum pressure of 45 atmospheres at 10 degrees centigrade – more at higher temperatures.  Only a lined pressure vessel or pipe will secure this.

4. Trying to push liquid CO2 into sedimentary rock 1500 feet down under the sea bed or into unlined caverns on land on anything like the scale to have any significant effect on our emissions, let alone the world’s, will simply result in leakage to the atmosphere or into the sea with uncontrollable consequences to wild life and to human beings.

A proven carbon-free mass energy supply is waiting to be built in the United Kingdom, namely nuclear power. Instead of wasting time and money on pursuing will-o-the wisp schemes of wind, wave, and carbon storage, we should be bending every effort to get a new nuclear  system built on a scale several times that envisaged by this government. Meantime we need to maintain all the fossil fuel power stations we currently have or are building, phasing them out as the new nuclear stations come on stream, irrespective of the 2020 renewables target this present government has so carelessly signed us up to.

Yours faithfully,

I sent the above email to the Times giving precisely this data, which could hardly be more relevant to the most important issue of the day as commented on in virtually every issue of the Times. But it was not printed even though it corrected in effect serious errors in their reporting. This is a general problem with the “broadsheet” or “quality” papers as they like to describe themselves. They apparently recruit their journalists and sub-editors from the innumerate classes who tend to find anything with a numerical argument too difficult to think through, however pithily expressed. Nowadays too, they seem incapable of exercising and editorial control over letters coming from what they deem to be “prestige” or “official” sources however long-winded. Some letters now extend over 500 words, where about 150 would express the main point.

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