A recent article in the New York Times recently outlined the massive problems of one of the key CCS project in the United States. The plant is still not online and is way over costs.
Here is the introduction to this long and most interesting article:
The fortress of steel and concrete towering above the pine forest here is a first-of-its-kind power plant that was supposed to prove that “clean coal” was not an oxymoron — that it was possible to produce electricity from coal in a way that emits far less pollution, and to turn a profit while doing so.
The plant was not only a central piece of the Obama administration’s climate plan, it was also supposed to be a model for future power plants to help slow the dangerous effects of global warming. The project was hailed as a way to bring thousands of jobs to Mississippi, the nation’s poorest state, and to extend a lifeline to the dying coal industry.
The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational.
I blogged a few years ago already that the technology, vital to make coal ” clean ” or at least reduce its carbon emissions, is still nowhere near happening. It is still too expensive, too risky, too little and too late. The technology could be ready by 2030, when the US could already be coal free and many other nations would have by then reduced significantly their demand.
Why would companies invest in an expensive technology to clean up something that is already more expensive than the competition ?
The main argument for coal for decades is that it was cheap. Yes, it was thanks to the massive subsidies, to the externalities not being factored in and so on. But times are changing. Air pollution is killing millions, climate change is raging… and coal companies are going bankrupt as the fossil fuel lose ground in many of its main markets.
Would CCS change anything of that ? No. Is the pretense that coal is abundant enough to save it from doom ? No. Solar is abundant, wind is too… and these are getting cheaper every month. Grid parity is already a reality.
My logical conclusion would be to drop research on CCS altogether, fund solar, wind and waste-to-energy programs instead. Coal miners are already being re-trained in solar.