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Is Carbon Capture Up to the Job?

Carbon captureAll eyes are turning to carbon capture in the wake of the EPA’s carbon standards for new power plants, released last week.

Coal plants will have to use carbon capture to comply with the new standard of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh, Reuters reports. But serious doubts have emerged over whether this is achievable. On an ominous note for the Obama administration, Southern Company – whose power plant with carbon capture in Kemper County, Mississippi is likely to be one of the first in the world to come online, and has received $245 million in Department of Energy funds for the overall $5 billion project – said the plant is not a good example of what can be achieved, because it enjoys a close proximity to oil fields. Southern says the EPA appears to have based its emission standard on the Kemper plant’s anticipated performance, but this is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.

Meanwhile Norway dropped plans for a full-scale carbon capture plant at a refinery. An auditor’s report last week showed that the project was over-budget and its complexity had been underestimated, Bloomberg reports.

The EPA and DOE will have their work cut out for them to show that carbon capture is a viable way to control coal plant emissions, when not a single such commercial-scale plant exists anywhere in the world.

Picture credit: Southern Company

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