The GAO on carbon capture and storage


in Economics, Science, The environment

The American Government Accountability Office has released a report (PDF) on carbon capture and storage (CCS). Some key points:

  • To make a significant contribution to fighting climate change, the International Energy Agency estimates that 6,000 CCS facilities would be required, each storing one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Integrating CCS into existing coal plants is very expensive and difficult.
  • It is easier with integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants, but they are very expensive before you even take CCS into account.
  • Commercial scale IGCC plants (not necessarily with CCS) can’t be expected before 2020 – 5 years after global CO2 emissions need to peak.
  • Coal plants with CCS will produce 35% – 77% less electricity than those without.
  • There are questions about the long-term viability of storing carbon underground.
  • Leaks could contaminate water and suffocate people.
  • CCS will only be deployed if companies are forced to use it.

In short, people who are counting on CCS to make a big contribution to fighting climate change have a lot to prove, and cannot be reasonably permitted to assume the near-term emergence of the technology as a viable, low-cost option. Until CCS is shown to be safe and feasible on a commercial scale, we simply cannot allow new coal power plants in countries that are serious about dealing with climate change.

I found out about it via Gristmill.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. October 22, 2008 at 10:30 am

More on carbon capture and storage:

Spremberg clean coal plant
Monday, September 22nd, 2008

CCS skepticism
Friday, June 27th, 2008

Selling ‘clean coal’
Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Greenpeace on carbon capture and storage
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Some carbon capture similes
Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Carbon capture in Saskatchewan
Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Monbiot on British carbon capture plans
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Crystals for improved CO2 separation
Monday, February 18th, 2008

Taskforce calls for $2 billion for CCS
Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

FutureGen and the cost of CCS
Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Sarah October 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Good news to see all this acknowledged by an office the US government (though not, significantly, from within the executive who have pursued an approach of muzzling scientists and suppressing evidence). Let’s hope that people take note.

Milan October 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Arguably, the people who most need to take note of this are the Government of Alberta.

Their 2008 climate change strategy projects that they will have stored 139 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. It is not clear that this is possible at all, much less possible at an acceptable price.

R.K. October 23, 2008 at 4:23 pm

“Leaks could contaminate water and suffocate people.”

‘Clean coal’ advocates certainly don’t mention this possibility.

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