Dead and Buried: the demise of carbon capture and storage

RWE Brown Coal Power Plant NiederaussemBraunkohle Kraftwerk Niederaussem. © Greenpeace

RWE Brown Coal Power Plant NiederaussemBraunkohle Kraftwerk Niederaussem. © Greenpeace

Greenpeace, 2012

A few years ago you could be excused for thinking that a new era was beginning for coal technology. As awareness grew of the impact of carbon pollution on the world’s climate, coal-fired power faced an “adapt or die” moment. What followed was a flurry of activity: announcements of pilot projects, impressive websites and slick marketing gave the impression that the coal industry was hard at work developing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. Some bold claims were made about the potential of CCS. One prediction stated that “by 2030, CCS could be one of the most important carbon abatement technologies. The InternationalEnergy Agency projected the construction of 3,400 CCS projects across the globe (i.e. 90 per year on average) by 2050 in order to halve global carbon pollution. However the reality is, CCS has been an abject failure.

This report describes the numerous risks that are preventing commercial-scale CCS power stations from ever becoming a realistic energy option. It shows how these risks have been borne out as the coal industry has attempted to make CCS happen.The report then draws on research conducted for Greenpeace by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Sydney, demonstrating the immense economic and technical undertaking that would be required if government aspirations for CCS were based in reality.