(EnergyAsia, June 5, Thursday) — In a damning report entitled “False Hope”, environmental group Greenpeace has described carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a ‘scam’ operating on an unproven technology.
Instead of pumping money into this false solution, the report said policymakers should invest in sustainable energy solutions to stop the climate crisis.
It said the CSS proposal to capture the global warming gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station smokestacks and then dumping it underground is still on the drawing board.
However, coal and power companies are exploiting the notion of so-called ‘capture ready’ power plants to justify building new coal-fired power stations with no guarantee that CCS would ever be retrofitted to capture CO2.
“Carbon capture and storage is a scam. It is the ultimate coal industry pipe dream,” said author Emily Rochon, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace International. “It is insanity verging on criminal negligence to pass up clean energy and instead pin hopes on an unproven technology. Governments and businesses need to reduce their emissions, not search for excuses for continuing to burn coal.”
Fraught with uncertainties over practicality and cost, she said CCS technology is not expected to be technically feasible before 2030 at best. If it ever matures, CCS will therefore arrive on the scene too late to play a role in combating climate change over the crucial next few years, or even decades.
The consensus among climate experts is that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2015 and be at least halved by 2050.
Enthusiasm for CCS is reaching fever pitch among coal and oil advocates, who have lost the battle over whether climate change is a problem, according to Greenpeace.
Unable to look beyond the carbon economy, they are desperate to project CCS as the way to continue with ‘pollution-as-usual’.
The Greenpeace report points out that the technology has not been made to work on anything approaching the level needed for a full-scale power plant, and that no one has yet successfully combined the ‘capture’ with the ‘storage’ elements of the concept.
Among other shortcomings, the increased energy requirements of CCS would effectively wipe out the power plant efficiency gains of the last 50 years, Greenpeace said. For every four CCS-equipped coal-fired power plants, a fifth would be needed to make up the energy shortfall. CCS could also double plant costs and lead to electricity price hikes estimated between 21% and 91%.
Storing CO2 underground also carries significant risks, said Greenpeace. Long-term leakage rates as low as 1% could cancel out any climate benefit. The potential environmental impacts also open up entirely new issues of liability.