Carbon Capture Nirvana

Carbon Capture Nirvana

McKinsey & Company has been supporting the AGW position that CO2 is the cause of climate change, and has recently touted carbon capture and usage as a means for cutting CO2 emissions in a “carbon constrained world.”

  • It should be noted that carbon is a black solid, commonly used in pencils, while CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas.

    Obviously, McKinsey & Company knows the difference, but chooses to describe CO2 as carbon for political reasons.

Picture from McKinsey & Company website introducing paper on use of CO2

In its paper, McKinsey & Company proposes several alternative uses for carbon.

  1. One is to use carbon as the feedstock for making chemicals and plastics.
  2. A second would be to use carbon to make fuels, by using a chemical reaction between hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
  3. A third would be to use liquified supercritical CO2 as the fluid in turbines to generate electricity.
  4. Another would be to use CO2 in concrete, either by using CO2 to make a carbonate mineral aggregate for mixing with cement, or to infuse wet concrete with CO2 in a process McKinsey refers to as carbon curing.

It’s important to note that each of these processes adds to the cost for making chemicals, plastics, etc.

CO2 is already being captured in limited quantities for use in drinks and for enhanced oil well recovery.

The McKinsey article cites the cost of capturing CO2 as $80 per metric ton. However the problems associated with capturing CO2 from flue gasses of power plants results in derating the power plant by around 30%, somewhat less for coal-fired power plants, more for natural gas power plants. (CO2 is denser in flue gas from coal-fired power plants, making it easier to capture than in natural gas power plants)

Replacing the 30% loss of output from power plants would necessitate building new power plants to replace the lost output from existing power plants. Whether this cost is included in the $80 cost per ton cited by McKinsey isn’t clear.

Regardless, using $80 per metric ton demonstrates the absurdity of McKinsey’s proposal.

US CO2 annual emissions of CO2 amounted to 5,170,000,000 metric tons in 2015.


  • To meet the requirements of the Paris Accord, where the US would have to cut its CO2 emissions by a minimum of 80%, would require capturing 4,140,000,000 metric tons of CO2 at a cost of $330 billion each year. This cost would increase every year, and would continue to be incurred for decades, if not a century or more.
  • Worldwide, CO2 emissions are 36,062,000,000 metric tons. Cutting emissions worldwide by 80% would cost $2,307 billion and more, annually.
  • Worldwide emissions are forecast to increase as China and India, and other developing countries increase their use of energy. Total worldwide CO2 emissions by 2030 could be 45,000,000,000 metric tons.

As can be seen, the cost of capturing CO2 is huge, and this cost must be added to the increased cost of the products produced with the captured CO2.

Was this a serious proposal by McKinsey & Co., or was it merely more propaganda in support of the AGW hypothesis where CO2 emissions are the villain?

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