CAPTURE AND STORAGE: The new boiler at the Schwarze Pumpe power plant in Spremberg, Germany, captures 95 percent of the carbon dioxide from the coal it burns and stores it in the big tanks being lifted into place. Image: COURTESY OF VATTENFALL
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Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of five features on carbon capture and storage, running daily from April 6 to April 10, 2009.
From GreenGen in Tianjin, China, to the Edwardsport facility in Edwardsport, Ind., power plants are beginning to be built with so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS)—technology that captures the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and locks it away from the atmosphere.
In fact, all the elements of industrial CCS technology already exist. The only issue is putting all the pieces together at one large, coal-fired power plant—which is what governments and some private companies are beginning to do.
"How do you take CCS from where we are now, which is a smattering of technology demonstrations, to a full-fledged industry over the next 20 years?" asks John Thompson, director of the coal transition project for the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston–based environmental group. "It's the same as moving from Kitty Hawk, which was a technology demonstration of flight, in 1903 to the postal air mail carrying some 14 million packages per year by 1925. What we need are the kinds of policy incentives that are equivalent to air mail," such as a cost for CO2 emissions and a subsidy for captured and stored CO2.
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