|China Shows U.S. How to Push for Carbon Capture |
By the Editors - Mar 27, 2012
It’s a tantalizing promise that one day “carbon capture” will remove greenhouse gases from the smoke made by coal-fired power plants. After all, these plants, which provide 45 percent of electricity in the U.S., account for more than a third of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Small-scale experiments have been successful enough that, at this point, engineers have little doubt the technology can work. Yet efforts in the U.S. to advance it are stalled. What was to have been the nation’s first commercial-scale project --at Mountaineer, a coal-burning electricity plant in New Haven, West Virginia -- has been put on hold.
Meanwhile, in China, carbon capture marches steadfastly ahead, as an article in the May issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine reports. A pilot project by China Huaneng Group Corp. has been able to remove carbon from coal-plant exhaust for about $39 per ton of captured CO2, which is a little more than a third of what it costs in the U.S.
The work has been so impressive, as John Lippert and Chua Baizhen report, that Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. energy company, has signed a research agreement with Huaneng to study its technology. Duke wants to learn how much it would cost to retrofit its largest power plant, in Gibson County, Indiana, to capture carbon.