Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lots of Talk, But Little Action on Carbon Capture and Storage

Over at Scientific American (here), David Biello has some depressing news about lack of movement on carbon capture and storage (CCS):
The 2012 survey by industry group the Global CCS Institute found that although nine new projects were announced this year, eight previously announced ones failed, bringing the total number of CCS projects worldwide to 75. Of those 75, eight are in actual operation, storing some 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year—or slightly more than the annual emissions of Bahrain—most of it from the processing of natural gas to remove CO2 so the fuel is ready to burn.
CCS is an important, possibly crucial, "bridge" to a low-carbon energy future. Absent some unexpected technological breakthrough, the world is going to remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels (including coal, oil, and natural gas) for at least the next generation (see, e.g., here). CCS is a means of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from burning fossil fuels, using currently available technologies. It is not inexpensive, however, and is unlikely to be adopted (at least in the US) in the absence of regulatory mandates or taxes that increase the price of GHG emissions for utilities (see, e.g., here).

CCS has been widely acknowledged as an important part of the climate policy mix for a long time (see, e.g., here and here). It's distressing to learn that only eight CCS projects are currently in operation worldwide.

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