The repair project—
get the original project
moving again involves
building a 12-story pit
to reach the machine.
But that digging may be
causing damage, including masonry cracks,
to nearby buildings in
the downtown area. In
December, project engineers announced that
more than 30 buildings
settled by as much as
1 inch ( 2. 5 centimeters), possibly because of project-related
City stakeholders have been vocal in their concerns,
demanding reassurances that a fix is on the horizon. But
Washington Department of Transportation officials have
warned that a new end date for the project, originally slated
to be complete in 2015, is impossible to estimate until a fix
for Bertha is found. —M. Wright
means in place to compensate CCS early movers for the innovation they are making on behalf of
society,” Dr. Gibbins says.
Even government backing doesn’t guarantee trouble-free execution, however. While the U.S.
Department of Energy has contributed US$270 million to the Kemper plant, the project’s budget
has more than doubled from an initial estimated cost of less than US$2.5 billion to $6.1 billion—
making it one of the costliest power plants ever made.
Project leaders will need to leverage lessons learned from initiatives like Kemper, whose initial
estimate didn’t fully take into account all of the necessary requirements. “We were right on the
mark with cost estimates with respect to the design around the major components of the facility:
the gasi;er, steam generator and combustion turbine,” Ms. Hall says. “Where we missed it—and
where many ;rst-of-a-kind facilities like the Kemper facility miss the mark on estimating—is in
the quantities of piping and wiring and the labor associated with these materials.”
;e process is so costly that it can cut signi;cantly into revenue from electricity sales. To
help make up the di;erence, some of these projects are establishing new revenue streams that
take advantage of the captured carbon dioxide, such as selling it to nearby oil companies, which
pump the compound underground to help dislodge and harvest hard-to-reach oil. Petra Nova
will send its captured carbon through an 82-mile (132-kilometer) pipeline to the West Ranch Oil
Field. Kemper’s carbon will be sold to two oil companies in Mississippi. —Emma Haak
means in place to
early movers for the
innovation they are
making on behalf of
—Jon Gibbins, PhD, University of Edinburgh,
Poor Bertha. The giant tunnel-boring machine is at the
heart of a US$3.1 billion project that is producing a sinking
feeling—among neighboring buildings. Now, the ambitious
endeavor in Seattle, Washington, USA has become a very
public lesson in all that can go wrong in a project.
“This is like a nightmare you don’t wake up from,” city
council member Nick Licata told the Seattle Weekly.
The project plan included building a highway tunnel under
the city of Seattle using the world’s largest boring machine,
named Bertha. Once the tunnel was complete, an aging
elevated viaduct—no longer deemed steadfast against future
earthquakes—would be demolished, opening the city’s
waterfront. Yet when the tunnel-boring machine’s bearings
became clogged with grit just 10 percent into the two-mile
( 1.6-kilometer) dig, the team struggled to find a fix. Bertha
got stuck—and stayed stuck for more than a year.
“The only thing that’s stopped on the job is the actual tunnel boring itself,” project manager Chris Dixon told Popular
Mechanics. “Everything else is going ahead full speed.” The
project team was reshuffled to minimize work-stop losses: A
team, for instance, began work on a multistory subterranean
building that houses controls for signals, airflow and sprinklers, while others on the team were tasked with figuring out
how to get Bertha to budge.
A view from
the back end of