Recent reports from the World Future Energy Summit say that “speakers pointed to the maturation of CCS and many successful pilot facilities around the world. And they set the expectation that the industry is now ready to see production facilities built in large numbers.”
Carbon capture is not new technology. We have been capturing carbon dioxide on an industrial scale from the partial oxidation of coal, oil and gas for many decades in the chemical industry. We have been reinjecting carbon dioxide down the well to enhance oil recovery for many years. The IPCC say the same in their report on carbon capture.
To be sure the capture and storage technology have not yet been put together and used on a large power generation plant. Process selection, cost estimates and performance will no doubt improve as we gain design, construction and operational experience, but that does not mean there is any likelihood of the technology not working. What is currently lacking is not the know-how but the economic incentive to apply it, except to demonstrate the technology.
I remember when we wanted to get lead out of gasoline, everyone said they were not ready, it would be very difficult and expensive. Then along came a tax incentive of a few pence per litre and it all happened painlessly. I suspect carbon capture will be the same. When the fuel producers are obliged to place contracts for carbon capture and sequestration for a proportion of the carbon in their fuel, as I propose, I think there will be power companies from around the world competing to take their money. I hope we will be left wondering what all the fuss around cutting emissions was about.