Amid Economic Concerns, Carbon Capture Faces a Hazy Future

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For a world dependent on fossil fuels, carbon capture and
storage (CCS) could be a key to controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
But the technology meant to scrub carbon dioxide pollution from the air
is experiencing stiff headwinds that have stalled many projects at the
bottom line.

Many companies have determined that
expensive CCS operations simply aren’t worth the investment without
government mandates or revenue from carbon prices set far higher than
those currently found at the main operational market, the European
Trading System, or other fledgling markets. According to a recent Worldwatch Institute
report, only eight large-scale, fully integrated CCS projects are
actually operational, and that number has not increased in three years.

“In
fact, from 2010 to 2011, the number of large-scale CCS plants
operating, under construction, or being planned declined,” said Matt Lucky, the report’s author. Numerous projects in Europe and North America are being scrapped altogether, Lucky added. Last month, TransAlta,
the Canadian electricity giant, abandoned plans for a CCS facility at
an Alberta coal-burning plant because financial incentives were too weak
to justify costly investment in CCS.

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