“Clean Coal” Projects Involving Carbon Capture & Storage Face Problems Worldwide

by Duane Nichols on October 12, 2012

Carbon Capture & Storage

The information below is from the Reuters article of Valerie Volcovici dated October 10th:

Projects that capture and store carbon emissions at coal power and industrial plants must come online by 2020 if the world is to stay on course to keeping the rise in global temperatures below a threshold deemed dangerous by scientists, a new report released Wednesday said. In its 2012 report on the global state of carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment, the Global CCS Institute warned that reaching the 130-project goal from 16 in the works will be unlikely amid current investment levels and regulatory uncertainty.

The institute projected that only 51 of the 59 projects identified in its annual survey may be operational by then and some are unlikely to proceed. “Since CCS is the only technology available for the decarbonization of industrial sectors such as iron, steel and cement manufacture, the risk of not being able to limit temperature rises to just 2°C becomes even greater,” the report said, referring to the threshold.

The failure of many major governments to enact legislation to cap carbon emissions and make it more expensive for facilities to pollute undermines private sector investment in the expensive technology. In the United States, where the two presidential candidates have touted the support for the coal industry, there has been little mention of investing in CCS because the boom in shale gas production from the fracking process has drastically lowered natural gas prices, driving greenhouse gas emissions to 20-year lows.


In the past year, the number of large-scale CCS projects globally has increased by just one to 75, according to the survey. Eight projects were canceled since 2011, but nine new projects were identified, of which most will use the captured carbon to inject underground and recover oil or gas.

The United States leads the number of projects with 24 active and planned, followed by Europe with 21 and China with 11. Projects to use carbon capture to recover oil dominates the projects in development in the United States and Canada. CCS activity in China saw the biggest growth last year, with five of the nine new projects identified since 2011 located in the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitting country.


The report cited policy developments in the UK, the United Nations and China that have occurred since 2011 that will help deploy CCS on a wider scale. But the institute warned that these developments are not sufficient to play a role in reducing carbon emissions and preventing major temperature increases.

The institute warned that governments will need more than just carbon pricing legislation to stimulate CCS investment and should be disadvantaged to low-carbon technologies, such as renewables, which receive more subsidies and incentives. “In order to achieve emission reductions in the most efficient and effective way, governments should ensure that CCS is not disadvantaged,” the report said.


UK energy minister wants to fund two CCS projects

The following Reuters article was authored by Karolin Schaps and Susanna Twidale dated October 11th:

Britain’s energy minister wants to financially support two pilot carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, a technology the UK is banking on to reduce climate-warming emissions and to develop as a new export product.

Britain sees CCS as a key technology for reducing carbon emissions in the energy sector, and the government has launched a 1 billion pound ($1.60 billion) competition to fund one or more projects.

Britain’s previous attempts to finance CCS projects failed as costs surged above expectations, but the UK is counting on the technology to help it meet legally-binding climate targets and is banking on using it as a new export product to countries which have a vast fleet of polluting coal plants, such as China.

The winner or winners of the competition will be announced soon, a spokesman for the energy ministry said.

Britain’s plan to fund CCS projects runs alongside a European Union program, which has earmarked two UK CCS projects as contenders to win up to 337 million euros ($434.78 million) of funding each raised from the sale of carbon permits in the EU.

EU countries whose projects were short-listed for the funding have to tell the Commission by the end of the month which three projects, including any renewable energy schemes, they would be able to support beyond the EU money to ensure they get built.

Britain’s Electricity Market Reform proposals, which are currently being assessed by parliament, include a mechanism to guarantee a minimum price of electricity for generators which emit no carbon, including CCS plants.

These so-called contracts for difference make UK an attractive place to invest in CCS projects as they are guaranteed long-term revenue.

($1 = 0.6242 British pounds) ($1 = 0.7751 euros)

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