CCS update: Funding still stalled for coal’s only hope

May 10, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

The good folks at the Worldwatch Institute have this important report out this week:

Global funding for carbon capture and storage technology, a tool for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, remained unchanged at US$23.5 billion in 2011 in comparison to the previous year, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute. Although there are currently 75 large-scale, fully integrated carbon capture and storage projects in 17 countries at various stages of development, only eight are operational—a figure that has not changed since 2009.

… Although CCS technology has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions—particularly when used in greenhouse gas-intensive coal plants—developing the CCS sector to the point that it can make a serious contribution to emissions reduction will require large-scale investment. Capacity will have to be increased several times over before CCS can begin to make a dent in global emissions. Currently, the storage capacity of all active and planned large-scale CCS projects is equivalent to only about 0.5 percent of the emissions from energy production in 2010.

Importantly, the report says:

The prospects for future development and application of CCS technology will be influenced by a variety of factors, according to the report. This March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. As a result, U.S. power producers would soon be unable to build traditional coal plants without carbon-control capabilities (including CCS). The technology will likely become increasingly important as power producers adjust to the new regulations.

The report adds:

— There are now seven large-scale CCS plants under construction worldwide, bringing the total annual storage capacity of plants either operating or under construction to nearly 35 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

— According to the International Energy Agency, an additional $2.5–3 trillion will need to be invested in CCS between 2010 and 2050 in order to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.

— On average, $5–6.5 billion a year will need to be invested in CCS globally until 2020 for the development of this technology.

— About 76 percent of global government funding for large-scale CCS has been allocated to power generation projects.

11 Responses to “CCS update: Funding still stalled for coal’s only hope”

  1. William says:

    And people say they are no war on coal Logan ,Mingo, Boone is gonna be ghost towns

  2. unbiased2 says:

    And the climate will continue to warm anyway because 75% of the carbon dioxide output is from all the other countries which will do nothing to curb discharges that may or may not be the cause, if it exists.

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    A more helpful and important statistic is to compare our nation’s share of the global population with our greenhouse emissions. This helpful interactive graphic from the U.N. does that, … while we have less than 5 percent of the world’s people, we account for 21 percent of the greenhouse emissions.

    As for the rest of your comment, well, no informed person tries to argue that climate change doesn’t exist. That’s just nonsense.


  4. Matt Wasson says:

    I’m afraid the “war on coal” that is preventing investment in CCS is being waged by the Tea Party and conservatives in Washington, William – it has nothing to do with treehuggers, unions or the EPA.

    But I suspect the only “war on coal” that matters anymore is the price war between coal and natural gas, anway. And that’s a war in which coal appears headed for unconditional defeat.

    CCS development might matter for producers out West, but in the context of Appalachia, where reserves are severely depleted and production costs are high, I’m pretty sure CCS is a non-issue.

    There is one way to prevent towns in Logan, Mingo and Boone from becoming ghost towns and that’s by diversifying the economy and bringing new industries to the region. I hope that soon, coal miners, environmentalists and politicians will be working shoulder to shoulder to do just that.

  5. wm gordon says:

    CCS is simply put, a non-starter, yet another scheme to extract public monies to private interests. But there are plenty of naive environmentalists along with limitless academic, industrial and political whores who will take the money, in the name of saving the environment.

    The chemistry and physics of CCS are not practical beyond “demonstration” projects, akin to high-school science shows. Carried to industrial scale application, the problem for CCS is that the volume of the carbon dioxide captured, even if compressed solid, greatly exceeds the volume of the coal from which it would be derived. So, firstly, there is a problem of where to place the captured material. Remember that the largest ingredient in combustion is air, not carbon, and the weight of the carbon dioxide created by combustion of coal is more than three times the weight and volume of the carbon consumed. A coal-burning power plant that burns one coal train of coal each day would produce two or three carbon dioxide waste trains each day…to be stored where?

    Using chemical sequestration rather than simple physical storage runs into an additional problem of cost. The absorbant chemical will in all cases require so much energy for its production that industrial scale application is a energy looser. And the storage volume
    is increased even more than that for simple physical storage of CO2.

    And be honest about nat gas substitution. Plenty of CO2 from gas burning, too. .

    The solution is to get off the fossil fuel diet. In the long run, it is simply unsustainable.

  6. Barbara Rasmussen says:

    Matt is making a great point about diversifying the economies in coal fields. One way to diversify the economy of the southern coal counties in West Virginia is to invest in the infrastructure necessary to trigger tourism in the area. Saving Blair Mountain Battlefield and using it as a wilderness recreation area, national park or national monument could do this. Tourism and recreation dollars are a green contribution to this issue. This is a great example of how historic perspectives can assist in current crises.
    Aside from economics, Blair represents a huge event in America’s past that all too few people understand, but it is as important to America’s history as Gettysburg Battlefield.

  7. Yunzer says:

    Wm gordon makes some good points. Even fusion energy technology (where the public money would be better spent) has fewer technical challenges than full-scale CCS – and that is saying a lot. And while it is never talked about over here, Europe is quietly building ITER – a full-scale demonstration/test fusion reactor in France. If only the Appalacian region could take such a high road! But what physicists and nuclear engineers and technicians are going to want to live in the landscape and environment left behind from MTR mining.

  8. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    OK … folks… if you want to make broad generalization about what science does or doesn’t show, please follow this one of Coal Tattoo’s comments rules:

    “Please provide links or citations to published material to back up your views, when appropriate.”

    Thanks, Ken.

  9. William says:

    I work on a strip job they are coal that could be mine for the next 25 years in Logan Boone and mingo but 10:00$ an hour compared to 24:00 per hour that’s a big drop and for companies coming in the southern part they are no where to put them if we where allowed to MTR they would be flat land to build something

  10. Lou Ann says:

    The “cap & trade” legislation that was killed by Republicans and the coal industry had billions for CCS technology. It was really the only hope for development of CCS in the U.S. I’d be curious to know how much the coal industry is spending on CCS research and development. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the figure.

  11. Matt Wasson says:

    Not sure what all these companies are that are clamoring for flat land to build on are, William. Boone, Mingo and Logan have been losing population for decades and I don’t think that any business looking for land or an empty storefront in southern WV would have any trouble. Have you driven through Whitesville, Logan, Welch or Williamson recently? Why wouldn’t a business wanting to move to the area use one of the hundreds of empty storefronts and abandoned buildings and railyards that are all over those places?

    Unfortunately, entrepreneurs aren’t looking to start businesses in a place where the water and air are polluted and people’s life expectancy is lower than it is in Iran, El Salvador and Viet Nam. Mountaintop removal is the problem, William, if it were the solution then the counties you name should be the wealthiest in the state. Heck, they’ve been blowing up mountains in the name of progress in Boone, Mingo and Logan for 50 years. Why weren’t the streets paved with gold long before Obama and Lisa Jackson came along?

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