The media is full of talk about carbon capture and storage (CCS). At the same time, there are only four facilities in the world where it is done. None of them resemble a conventional coal-fired power plant.
As a result, our cost projections for the technology are far more speculative than is commonly acknowledged. It is like we are in the era of the Wright Brothers, and we are trying to sort out the economics of running a major airline.
As I have said before, we had better hope that CCS works, if only because so many different climate change mitigation plans depend on it. At the same time, we really need to acknowledge that there is some chance that it simply will not work, and we will need to find those megatonnes of reduction somewhere else.
That uncertainty also pertains to questions about building more coal power plants. Building them today – with the hope that CCS will eventually become available – is highly irresponsible. It might be compared to jumping out of a plane and hoping you can sew yourself a parachute before you hit the ground.