EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘EU mulls €7bn subsidy for carbon capture‘:

Is heralding the move towards large scale programmes in particular those for CCS (carbon capture and storage) and the very large organisations who are proffering these the right approach?

One of the major hypotheses promoted for CCS is the transference of oxidised carbon (namely – carbon dioxide) into the ground near to existing oil wells and gas reserves (both of which are fossil fuels) so as to extract the last vestiges of these commodities from rapidly-depleting reserves, thus extending their operational life. We disagree with this notion outright.

This use of CCS is a façade and an absolute nonsense.

It is a mechanism that would use the CCS as a ‘trojan horse’ with the sole aim of making even more money for the oil companies, rather than dealing with the fundamental issues of climate change and the role of greenhouse gases.

The European Union has fallen into the happy and welcoming arms of the mega companies to support this.

We think that the time has come for the mentors within the EU and the guardians of the EU purse-strings to think again about this, since there are many other ways to solve this issue, including using existing and real alternatives to fossil fuels in the manufacture of renewable liquid fuels from non-food biomass and macro-algae farming that could absorb much of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gases emitted from coal-fired and oil-fired and gas-fired power stations and incineration plants with an economic and local source solution.

Think it again, EU. You are barking up the wrong tree and falling into the hands of the oil companies and the power companies by subsidising them yet again. Look what has happened before! These so-called green grants have been passed straight back in to the hands of the company shareholders and the costs incurred for carrying out such work have been passed on to consumers.

Is it any wonder why there is so much scepticism about global warming and the role of green-house gases when the benefits are only going to these mega-rich companies?

Carol Horner

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Comments

  1. I do very share your view. I’ve been sitting in the council during the negotiation of CCS directive and I can tell with certainity that in fact it is a gift to oil and gas companies. As you may know, the directive doesn’t allow CCS for enhanced oil (or gas ) recovery, but nonetheless this is still a gift to the above mentioned subject because the almost depleted wells in northern sea will soon became the cemetery of CO2 from all around Europe (Commission impact assessement foresees the construction of over 11,000 km of CO2 duct) as depleted oil and gas reservoirs have been identified as most suitable place for CO2 burying. The supporter of CCS are falsely claiming that it will be a transition solution toward a fossil fuel free world. that would be very hard to see as CCS will not help coping with chinese growing of coal fired power station but instead will allow EU to make more use of that fossil fuel. This is attractive because of the still large reserve of coal (rouglhy 200 yrs) and its cheap price. But even more importantly this will allow to use the power grid like it is now while investing on renewables means to change distribution system as this one cannot support a massive energy produced by reneables. I’ve been confeorted in hearing a clear condemnation of CCS from the President of Club of Rome who has rightly pointed out hwo more beneficial would be to spend such hige amount of money to assist young women in Asia to reduce the birth rate.

  2. I share your views partly.

    Ccs is advanced technology, and could be put to good use in Asia also.

    However, the renewables require several techniques, which are usually complex to implement there.

  3. The idea of getting more oil out of an oil reservoir, considering the societal investment in the oilfield development equipment, is a sound idea. The use of an oil company to undertake the extraction of the final amount of oil, using a CO2 injection approach for tertiary recovery, is also of benefit to society. The issue raised is whether the profit from this incremental oil will be as great as the profit obtained in the development of conventional oil, and whether the shareholders of the oil companies should receive the lion’s share of that profit, or should the profit to them be limited, and should some of the profit be passed along to the general public through some alternative strategy. There are at least two such strategies, one being that the price of the CO2 when it is made available at the injection wellhead, can be set in such a way as to limit the profit on the incremental oil recovered by the CO2 injection process; another way is simply through a taxation of the incremental oil recovered through the use of the CO2 injection process. One would hope that the profit flowing to the general public, however it is done, would be passed through towards funding and attacking the problem of greenhouse gas reduction in global terms, and would focus on CO2 from all types of fossil-fueled fixed installations, be they fired by coal, gas, oil, or even biomass.

    William Sackinger

  4. Sir: It appears that I am not alone with this contentious issue as Fabrizio Fabbri and others have also realised.

    Our Dear Leaders in the EU and indeed elsewhere should stop this charade in its tracks now! This is a true obfuscation of the intention of the UNFCCC and a total misuse of EU Funds which you should be aware IS NOT EU FUNDS BUT OURS THE PUBLIC’s and THE TAX PAYERs’ and hard earned money. It is not intended to line the pockets of the Mega-Rich Oil Corporations or the Power Generation Companies. The intention here is to Off-set the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs)at source and not continue to produce them. Pumping them into the ground under the auspices of CCS has become fashionable and seems to be the result of good intention – a bright idea – but the Public suspects that the proposers are paid by these Mega-Rich companies!

    Now we have the same with the use of Clean Coal and so-called ‘Natural Gas’! What is going on here? These are Fossil Fuels, and they produce GHGs when burnt to make electricity. The whole ethos of this issue [which is now a full-blown debate here] is to reduce the dependency of the World from using Fossil Fuels. It is the Mega Rich Power and Oil Companies who are being encouraged to develop these so-called ‘New’ sources of Fuel who are the very benefactors in the Support Funding mentioned here. Talk about being self-propagating. You are giving away Our Money to these Companies only for this to bottom-lined as Profits. Only a small proportion of this EU [or other] money will benefit Us or assist the Targets and Aims of the UNFCCC. Come on EU what is going on here? You are spending Our Money [the Tax Payer’s Money] here not the EU’s and it is going to the wrong cause. No Sirs: Snrs Barrosa and Dimas and Others in the EU you must think this through again. Why? Well there are precedents around that herald what happens, and you should take note and be reminded of them in this continuing debate.

    A few years ago it became fashionable to talk about Renewable Energy and Fuels on the back of reducing the emission of GHGs. Targets for these have been promoted and in time these have been upgraded. Seeing a need there has been a mad rush to exploit the issue. Wind Turbines are but one of these: yes it is perfectly understandable, but the benefits are dubious. Whilst there are ‘Green Tariffs’ for producing Electricity from such a source these benefits are not the only source of financing of such Wind Energy Electrical Power Plants as the various Business Plans for same show! A large proportion of these Programmes rely on up-front EU financial support be it as a Direct Grant to Build – sometimes more than 50% of the Business Plan Capex and/or by EIB/EBRD Banks and EU Member’s State Bank Preferential Low Interest and Soft Loans and in deferred Capital Gains riding on the back of Environmental developments by and off-setting Taxation etc! Such benefits are now so good that Companies can actually build these plants and make a profit from doing so without even making Electricity. Producing Electricity from a Wind Energy Power Plant is a bonus! If it was not so lucrative a business then the question has to be asked ‘why is there such a good trade in buying and selling these installations?’ There is more to this than meets the plain-speaker here!

    I suggest though that this issue is even bigger than this. Consider the issues where a Project or Programme meets a need for two areas of Environmental need. In this I would like to address the issues of the Waste Directive and Renewable Energy Electricity. It is well-known that, irrespective of the efficacy of the basic Environmental credibility of the Incineration debate, that the proponents of the system milk the Institutions of Government for finances in the face of reality. The current examples and the often cited and and published debates about the issues in the European Union through Bulgaria France Ireland UK for example and into the supported programmes in places such like Mauritius are good examples to refer to and are but the tip of the ice berg in terms of how the Mega Rich Companies are benefiting at [Yes you’ve got it again] the PUBLIC’s and TAX PAYERs’ EXPENSE.

    Consider the various programmes where. through reason of EU Member States’ indifference, and slow approach to the issue of diverting the Biodegradable matter in Municipal Solid Waste away from Land Fill [to limit the emission of GHGs arising therefrom] they now have to deal with the consequences of potential punitive EU fines for not meeting their GHGs emissions and Land Fill Targets. This lax approach by Member States has now reached the stage where many have been alerted to the facts that they should Urgent Action to avoid such penalties. Along come the plethora of consultants and experts proffering the most expensive and least favourable environmental solution which sits at the wrong end of the Waste Hierarchy. Such solutions are expensive and without heavy financial support and subsidy would not even be considered. The question of Environmental Credence is also an issue here as in putting these schemes forward the experts know that the Public will fight ‘tooth and nail’ against them.

    In order to get these programmes accepted only the largest companies are able to propose a solution. These projects are large, and with a capital costs of €uro hundreds of millions cannot be afforded or purchased directly by Municipalities [or Governments in some instances.] They then look for imaginative financial management solutions like the Finance Design Build and Operate programmes PFI (Private Finance Initiative in Britain) and PPP (Public-Private Partnership in Ireland etc.) and the many other variants. Essential to all these contracts is the need to Sell a Service making Revenue stream: and so here is a convenient Green Tariff for producing Energy [Electricity or Heat.] Even within this there is a controversial twist for regardless of the Electricity made if there is a need to support and sustain the plant with bought in Electrical Energy the Service Provider is allowed to buy this in at a Subsidised Rate rather than use the energy made on the site! This though is not enough and other subsidies/incentives are needed like increasing Treatment/Gate Fees by as much as 50% [in the UK/Ireland/France etc] This is a major area of contention for Us the Public and Tax Payer from projects as widely apart as Dublin to Mauritius and Malaysia.

    But this is still not enough, so along comes the EU and its Member States with further Financial Manipulations. We see the UK PFI Credit one of these offering up to 40% ”low interest” long term grants to the Companies, but there are others!. Amongst these are the use of EU Banks [EIB/EBRD] and Member States’ Banks [most of which are Partly Owned by Governments] who offer extremely Low Interest Loans and Bonds to soften the effects on the Local Public – but all this does is pass on this debt to the Public and Tax Payer. We need to go no further than watch the programmes placed throughout Europe to take a snap-shot of such projects and how the Public and Tax Payer is being hood-winked by a combination of vested interested parties in the Large Companies that have secured or are securing projects in the UK [as Belvedere or Manchester and South Staffordshire Bedfordshire or York] paralleled in Ireland [Dublin] and beyond to Mauritius and Kuala Lumpur.

    These programmes are so large financially that without these Heavy Subsidies they would not be bought: they are totally unaffordable as well as being environmentally suspect.

    So why do these organisations get away with it? They do so and continue to proffer these despite the Public and Tax Payers objections and despite the fact that there are other newer and better methods around that can be built at a Quarter of the Capex and Opex costs for the same quantity of Waste. The main issue seems to be as stated earlier is it is Big Business here in these projects and just as before the driving force is not to meet the aims of the UNFCCC and those Targets as accepted by the EU and other Countries but to manipulate this for Company Gain.

    Sirs I may have taken up too much time with this rhetoric but I wish to make the point here that as the EU We are as the Largest Financial Institution in Europe being manipulated on all fronts by Big Business under the cover of the UNFCC and Climate Change. Our credence as an organisation is now being called in to question and it is no wonder that at the Elections over the past two cycles we have seen such disaffection by Us the Public and the Tax Payer and your Bank Roller. In these times of Financial Prudence we must look at this system again and make adjustments to bring into the fray the exciting developments that have been lauded across the World for addressing the needs here, and the fact that they are being generated from Small often Start-Up Companies. We are still thinking inside the barrel here and not outside. As steering members of the Administration the Executive of the EU You Sirs, and the Directorates General must get to grasp with this issue before we are steam-rollered yet again to incur costs that are entirely unnecessary.

  5. Before we embark on extremely expensive programs in attempting to reduce GHGs in our atmosphere, we should first firmly establish that such programs will actually do some good.

    So called ‘climate scientists’ cannot explain how it was that in the ‘great central plains’ of North America, the world’s largest cereal growing area, that during the decade 1930 – 40 that temperatures were considerably above normal and precipitation was considerably below normal making the area a huge dust bowl complete with virtually total crop failures. This occurred without any increase in CO2 emissions or significant increased concentrations in the atmosphere.

    It is a fact that CO2 increases in the atmosphere, and in our greenhouses too, up to a level of 90,000 ppm, actually increases vegetative growth. It is also a proven horticultural fact that a doubling of CO2 in our atmosphere from the current level of about 375 ppm will bring an increase of 30 to 40 % of vegetative (IE FOOD) growth. How do these ‘climate scientists’ who advocate a reduction of CO2 in our atmosphere, explain that through their actions they would reduce the food supply of the planet?

    There are many more compelling questions that remain unanswered and until they are, we should not be considering wild, careless and (some) dangerous schemes which might precipitate the next ice age.

  6. The point here that as the EU We are as the Largest Financial Institution in Europe being manipulated on all fronts by Big oil and gas Business under the cover of the UNFCC and Climate Change.

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