Copenhagen — Capturing and storing carbon dioxide from power stations and other industrial plants is seen as the solution to controlling CO2 — at least according to companies like Shell and BP, who have an obvious interest, as well as some leading climate change experts.
Known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS, the technology is derided by its critics, who claim that – in a world increasingly worried about greenhouse gas emissions – it is one more excuse to continue burning fossil fuels. Plans for CCS, a relatively recent technology, typically involve injecting massive amounts of CO2 underground or into the oceans. Its problems are numerous: the technology is energy intensive, and there are concerns over leakage of the carbon, challenges finding appropriate storage areas, and costs so huge they could suck away funds for renewable energy.
For true believers, however, the only obstacle facing CCS is cost, and they have lobbied the European Union to launch a billion-euro series of demonstration projects. “Despite the bright long-term prospects of CCS, the question remains of how we will close the gap between the current state of affairs and the building of the profitable plant,” said Lars Strömberg of Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned energy giant, speaking at an October conference in Brussels. (Vattenfall holds a massive interest in German coal-fueled power stations.) Even the multi-billion-euro aid now made available by the EU is not sufficient to make CCS commercially viable by 2020, proponents say.