Ming Sung, chief representative in Asia for the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based nonprofit group dedicated to reducing atmospheric pollution, said that other companies in China confront the same obstacle.
"Lacking economic incentive is the biggest hurdle for the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage technology," Sung said. "Companies don't do things that they cannot make money from."
It is unclear whether the upcoming Chinese carbon trading market, starting from next year, will allow companies to trade emission credits generated from CCUS projects. And the amount they can sell to the soft drinks industry is tiny compared with the supply of CO2.
There are also talks of supplying captured CO2 to oil companies, which can inject the gas into wells and use it to extract more oil. While this practice has been widely deployed in North America, its development in China may take time, as Chinese CO2 suppliers and oil companies have to go through hard negotiations before working together, Sung said.
Health, soil and water
Then there are environmental concerns. In a report issued in 2009, Greenpeace International called carbon capture and storage technology a "false hope" to save the climate, saying that "safe and permanent storage of CO2 cannot be guaranteed."
Greenpeace argued that while it is not currently possible to quantify the exact risks, any CO2 leakage from underground has the potential to affect the surrounding environment, raising the dangers of polluted soil and water, and even suffocation.
Shenhua monitors its storage site here, which lies below a field covered by blooming yellow flowers, with instruments in an attempt to trace any changes caused by stored CO2.
Workers check the data every two hours to analyze how carbon dioxide is moving underground and whether there are any leaks. The company also collects samples of soil and groundwater.
While acknowledging risks in carbon capture and storage technology, Shenhua engineers view their project as more of a helper, saying that it can help collect data and assist drafting rules in this unregulated sector.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500