Utility wants to pour $334 million of stimulus money down carbon capture rathole

August 21, 2009

Would you spend $670 million to maybe change the Earth’s tempertaure by an imperceptible 0.000092 degrees Celsius over the next 85 years?

Utility giant AEP has applied for $334 million in stimulus money to construct the first commercial scale CO2 capture and storage project at a West Virginia coal-fired power plant. That’s about half the money needed for the project. The project goal is to capture 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 per year and then to store it 1.5 miles below the surface.

How much of a difference in atmospheric CO2 levels will this make?

Atmospheric CO2 accumulation from this plant is the product the emissions (0.0015 billion metric tons of CO2) times its persistence in the atmopshere (estimated to be 40%), which equals 0.0006 billion metric tons of CO2.

Since 1 part per million by volume (ppmv) of CO2 weights 7.81 billion metric tons, the atmospheric persistence of the plant’s emissions is roughly 0.0006 / 7.81, which equals 0.000077 ppmv.

So AEP plans to spend $670 million — remember half is taxpayer money — to avoid increasing atmospheric CO2 levels by 0.000077 ppmv per year. That’s only $8.7 trillion per ppmv avoided.

How much of a hypothetical change in temperature will be achieved by this $670 million expenditure?

If the project started burying CO2 in 2015 as planned, then between 2015 and 2100 the atmosphere would contain about about 0.0065 ppmv less CO2 (85 years x 0.00077 ppmv per year).

Using the IPCC’s simplified expression for calculation of radiative forcing due to CO2 and 380 ppmv for our base year 2007, we get a change in CO2-related forcing of about 0.000092 W/m2, which works out to between 0.0000276 °C to 0.000092 °C of potential warming avoided over those 85 years.

That works out to a rate of between $7.3 trillion to $24.3 trillion spent per hypothetical 1 °C rise in global temperature avoided. Remember, this is only a hypothetical temperture difference; it’s not at all certain that any temperature difference would actually occur!

Moreover, even if this miniscule temperature increase were avoided, it’s not at all clear that any climatic benefits would actually occur. Global warming is better, after all, than global cooling.

8 Responses to “Utility wants to pour $334 million of stimulus money down carbon capture rathole”


  1. […] we began campaigning against this project in August 2009, we asked: Would you spend $670 million to maybe change the Earth’s temperature by an imperceptible […]


  2. […] waste anytime … the following day, Friday, they attacked the AEP grant application in a blog post and a news released headlined: Utility Wants to Pour $334 Million of Taxpayer Money Down Carbon […]

  3. sundog47 Says:

    They could give me the money, and I’ll promise to park my hummer, same volumetric effect as I see it. We need to get a handle on these politicos before they get their hands on our money (for real.)

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

  4. welder4 Says:

    I must give credit to Rush Limbaugh for these words on Lindzen, that is were I found it so as not to be in trouble for stealing his thunder it was on Rushes web site were I got it . I did not do this on my own.

  5. welder4 Says:

    Professor Richard Lindzen, MIT, says that “carbon dioxide is irrelevant in the climate debate.” Lindzen, nobody disagrees with this man to his face. He has instant credibility, MIT. His work has been peer reviewed. He states, “We now know that the effect of CO2 on temperature is small. We know why it is small. And we know that it is having very little effect on the climate. All of this data leads to the conclusion that the United Nations IPCC models are not only wrong, they’re so far off the mark as to be laughable.” In other words, the whole bedrock, foundation of manmade global warming, CO2, this MIT professor, says the effect of CO2 on temperature is small and limited. Put this in your pipe and smoke it Al!

  6. welder4 Says:

    Or it could escape all at one time killing all above it and then they would eliminate more tax payers that way great idea, lets store the lot of it under the white house and hope for the best .

  7. dublds Says:

    Funny thing is, that storing carbon deep in the earths crust, and under heavy pressure, may very well turn it to a dense hydrocarbon like, say, oil or natural gas. And given how badly we will bankrupt ourselves with such folly, it probably wouldn’t be long before we pumped it back up to the surface to power our newly destitute world. Great!

    Sometimes you just have to call a spade an incredibly stupid, expensive, worthless, and wasteful idea…


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