A new survey finds a sharp drop in large-scale integrated projects to capture CO2 from energy systems and bury it underground. This drop from 75 projects to 65 over the past year is yet more evidence that we shouldn’t expect large-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) before the 2030s at the earliest, nor expect that CCS would provide more than 10% of the answer to the carbon problem by 2050.
… the technology for capturing carbon has not been proved to work on a commercial scale, either in the United States or abroad. The Energy Department canceled its main project demonstrating the technology in 2008.
The slower than anticipated progress of CCS projects into construction during the past three years reﬂects the difﬁculty for project proponents to address the ﬁnancial and commercial challenges inherent in CCS integration. This is expected to continue in the coming year.
- Climate-Control Policies Cannot Rely on CCS
- Large-Scale CCS: Feasibility, Permanence and Safety Issues Remain Unresolved
- Economist Debate Concludes /li>
“Sequestering a mere 1/10 of today’s global CO2 emissions (less than 3 Gt CO2) would thus call for putting in place an industry that would have to force underground every year the volume of compressed gas larger than or (with higher compression) equal to the volume of crude oil extracted globally by [the] petroleum industry whose infrastructures and capacities have been put in place over a century of development. Needless to say, such a technical feat could not be accomplished within a single generation.”
“Existing CO2 capture technologies are not cost-effective when considered in the context of large power plants. Economic studies indicate that carbon capture will add over 30% to the cost of electricity for new integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units and over 80% to the cost of electricity if retrofitted to existing pulverised coal (PC) units. In addition, the net electricity produced from existing plants would be significantly reduced—often referred to as parasitic loss—since 20-30% of the power generated by the plant would have to be used to capture and compress the CO2.”
“One large, coal-fired plant generates the equivalent of 3 billion barrels of CO2over a 60-year lifetime. That would require a space the size of a major oil field to contain. The pressure could cause leaks or earthquakes, says Curt M. White, who ran the US Energy Department’s carbon sequestration group until 2005 and served as an adviser until earlier this year. ‘Red flags should be going up everywhere when you talk about this amount of liquid being put underground.’ ”
We argue here that there is a high probability that earthquakes will be triggered by injection of large volumes of CO2 into the brittle rocks commonly found in continental interiors. Because even small- to moderate-sized earthquakes threaten the seal integrity of CO2 repositories, in this context, large-scale CCS is a risky, and likely unsuccessful, strategy for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“On planned policies, rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change … Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”