Developing CCS at commercialscale would require overcomingnumerous major challenges.
Costs are prohibitively expensive.
Coal power with CCS would be oneof the most expensive options forgenerating electricity. Power stationcapital costs would be 2½ timesthat of concentrating solar powerand more than 4 times that of windpower (see chart below).
Too risky forserious invesTmenT
Coal industry investment in CCS
has been scant, reecting a lack of condence in the technology
overcoming the many risks and hurdlesit faces. Instead of investing heavilyin CCS, the coal industry has largelyrelied on public funding to supportprograms and projects. The carbon price is too low to drivecommercial investment towardsCCS. Dick Wells, Chairman of theNational Low Emissions Coal Council,recently remarked that the carbonprice is not high enough to driveinvestment towards Carbon Captureand Storage and that in the absenceof a carbon price signal, “companieswith shareholders – I mean, peoplehave their superannuation with thesecompanies – aren’t going to do thingswhich aren’t sensible economically
”.However, other technologies that willnot be driven by a carbon price suchas wind and solar attracted over $5billion in investment in Australia during
the 2010-11 nancial year
. Privateinvestment in renewable energy is atleast one order of magnitude greaterthan in CCS.In Australia, the coal industryhas committed $1 billion to CCSover 10 years, equivalent to only1% of the black coal mining
industry’s pre-tax prot from
2002 – 2010
(see graphic toright) and less than thefederal government’s CCSFlagships program. TheEuropean Union’s NER 300policy, the main vehicle forsupporting CCS projects,is expected to generate€4.5 billion, matched bya combination of memberstates and industry funding
.In the United States, projects supportedby funds from the American Recoveryand Reinvestment Act have beenallocated nearly twice as much publicfunding as industry is providing
. Thisreveals a lack of belief from the coalindustry that CCS is a genuine optionfor generating power at commercialscale with low carbon pollution.
Black Coal mining pre-tax
prots from 2002 - 2010
($ billions)Coal Industry committmentto CCS investment over10 years ($ billions)
CCS is highly energy intensive.
Capture and compression technologywould consume up to a third of apower station’s output, meaning that forevery three power stations operatingwith CCS, another would have to beconstructed just to maintain overallelectrical supply
Safe storage cannot be guaranteed.
Geological formations must at a minimumbe perfectly sealed with a cap rock andbehave as expected by modelling.However, several established fuel recoveryprojects have revealed that very little isunderstood of actual CO
movementsonce injected underground
Climate change action to outstripthe need for CCS.
CCS is not expected to becomeavailable at commercial scale until atleast 2020, by which point alternativesto polluting power will already need tobe in mass production.
Limitations to storage capacity.
Early estimates of CO
capacity were grossly oversimplied
and likely to have produced unreliabledata
. One study suggests storagecapacities have been out by a factor of between 5 and 20, rendering “geologicsequestration of CO
a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO
.” The Kwinana project in Western Australia was cancelled after it wasfound that the proposed CO
storagelocation could not be relied upon
Wind Solar Thermal IGCC plantwith CCS IDGCC plantwith CCS
Capital Cost in 2015 ($/Kw)
IDGCC – Integrated Drying Gasication and Combined Cycle
IGCC – Integrated Gasication and Combined Cycle