Daily catch-up: carbon capture and storage – some green technological fixes are never going to work

Plus why we pretend we want to renationalise the railways

John Rentoul
Saturday 26 September 2015 07:25 BST
Wind turbines generate electricity in the shadow of Drax coal-fired power station on August 24, 2010 in Selby, England
Wind turbines generate electricity in the shadow of Drax coal-fired power station on August 24, 2010 in Selby, England (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The news that Drax power station is giving up its carbon capture project confirms that not all technological fixes are going to work. Carbon capture and storage was always a doubtful idea: the cost of extracting carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and storing it was always likely to cancel most of the energy produced in the first place. The idea always seemed like a perpetual motion machine, in which energy would be created by taking carbon out of the ground (in the form of coal) and then putting it back (in the form of carbon dioxide).

Drax has blamed the Government for cutting the green subsidy, but that is simply a way of saying it is too costly, which in turn is a way of saying it doesn't work.

• I have written for CapX on why renationalising the railways is popular. It is about why, a quarter of a century after Margaret Thatcher, profit is still a dirty word in Britain. As a market socialist, I don't think it should be:

As a teenager I thought everyone should be paid the same, until my (younger) sister said, ‘What if not enough people want to become doctors?

So the purpose of politics, I have thought since then, is to work with the grain of market forces – or human nature plus maths, as might be a better description – towards a more equally prosperous society. But no, we would rather dream about renationalising the railways.

Chris Dillow pays me the compliment of a considered response, saying it is about control. People feel that they can get what they want through government action, and do not trust the outcomes of unco-ordinated market agents: “The invisible hand is well-named: people can’t see it.”

Emran Mian has a terrific defence of political centrism in Independent Voices. It is a response to Steve Richards, who said it was a meaningless word. Mian says that, on the contrary, doubt and pragmatism are worth fighting for.

• I have reviewed the other book about the Prime Minister, Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon’s Cameron At 10, for The Independent.

• And finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this:

I went out in just my pants and vest earlier. Luckily I did it in American.

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