The absurdity of carbon capture and storage

August 18, 2022

Proponents of the Inflation Reduction Act claim it will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. This is a long way from our global fair share that would be the equivalent of 195% reductions by 2030. It is also heavily premised on expanded usage of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that are, frankly, a fantasy. A harmful fantasy, at that, one that promises the possibility of climate action without having to challenge the powerful fossil fuel industry.

In the New York Times this week, a couple of dudes who (checks notes) founded the first private CCS-focused company in the country debunk this fantasy. Check it out:

“In an effort to capture and store carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel-burning power plants, the Department of Energy has allocated billions of dollars for failed C.C.S. demonstration projects. The bankruptcy of many of these hugely subsidized undertakings makes plain the failure of C.C.S. to reduce emissions economically.”

My favorite CCS factoid, though, has to be this one from early 2021 about a failed coal-with-CCS plant in Texas:

“In purporting to solve some fossil fuel problems, the project actually made some new ones. The CCS technology at Petra Nova required so much energy that NRG made an entirely separate natural gas power plant—the emissions of which were not offset by the Petra Nova technology—just to power the scrubber.”

Maybe this is not what billions of dollars of climate investments should be going towards…?