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Future of Carbon Capture Uncertain

A growing clean energy industry, along with high costs of implementation and low levels of deployment see the future of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) projects as questionable.

 
PRLog - Oct. 18, 2012 - FAIRFIELD, Iowa -- CCS (carbon capture and storage) is the process of capturing the carbon produced from electricity generated from fossil fuels, and from a range of industrial processes and storing it in a designated container underground. The technology has always been a little strange, developed with the presumption that it was unrealistic to expect immature and expensive clean energy technologies like solar and wind to shoulder the entire burden of reducing carbon emissions, particularly in developing countries.

Recently, the Global CCS Institute said carbon capture and sequestration is falling way behind the pace at which it needs to develop in order to be a meaningful contributor to worldwide CO2 reductions. Perhaps its time to consider reallocating the financial resources for CCS towards something more practical?

Today CCS is actually way behind wind and solar and renewables as a viable option; and falling further from reaching the milestones advocates had set for it to be a real factor in the climate-change fight, according to a new report by the IEA.

Every day that passes sees the CCS scenario to get a little more shaky. The International Energy Agency has been counting on CCS to contribute 7 gigatons out of 42 gigatons in CO2 reductions under “2DS,” a least-cost scenario for keeping the global average temperature from rising more than that magic 2°C (that climate people are always talking about).

“To maintain the path to the 2°C target, the number of operational projects” — eight are now operating and eight are under construction — “must increase to around 130 by 2020, from the 16 currently in operation or under construction,” the Global CCS Institute said in its 2012 update of the technology’s progress. “Such an outcome looks very unlikely as only 51 of the 59 remaining projects captured in the Global CCS Institute’s annual project survey plan to be operational by 2020, and inevitably some of these will not proceed.” So instead of 130 by 2020, we’re looking at maybe 51.The institute concluded that many more new projects need to be developed in order for CCS to have any sort of future.

Costs are another major issue; it’s really expensive to get the carbon out of a coal plant flue, compress it to a supercritical state and send it underground to a spot that has been adequately studied to determine it can be properly contained. While the IEA is a big advocate for deployment of more renewables, it’s hard not to wonder if its continued advocacy of CCS makes sense, as investment dollars are likely to continue to be scarce in the years ahead.

Unless Washington begins to impose costs, such as a tax on carbon, for users of electricity whose generation releases greenhouse gases (thereby making CCS more competitive), or experimenting with different types of electricity production subsidies that would provide more incentive for private-sector investments in CCS, the technology probably won’t bear much fruit. It’s enough to make you think the Congressional Budget Office might have been right earlier this year when it concluded that the 6.9 billion dollar investment the U.S. has been making since 2005 probably won’t bear the desired results.

ECSE offers clean energy solutions for project developers and financiers looking for sound  investment opportunities in clean energy projects. We offer a variety of services including but not limited to feasibility studies, project planning, risk assessment, technical design and engineering, project permitting, project management, and more. Contact us today to discuss your project.

Contact

Dallas Terry, LEED AP BD+C
Managing Director, Earth Circle Sustainable Energy
Clean Energy Consulting
info@ecsustainableenergy.com
www.ecsustainableenergy.com
Tel:+1-641-919-5148

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Tags:carbon capture, feasibility studies, renewable energy, Finance, sustainability
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