Coal Tattoo

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.