It's not pretty, it's CO2 capture and storage
Tomorrow's a big day for Europe and the future of alternative energy development and regional climate efforts - the EU Commission will present its directive on the plan get 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 - plus fixed targets for GHG emission reductions. It's a bit of an uneven playing field - Sweden and Latvia already get around 40 % from renewables, the UK around 3%. The directive will try to fix the lame Emissions Trading System (ETS) which has given a lot of money to utilities and done little to lower emissions. It is also supposed to include a carbon capture (CCS) provision that any power plants of 300 MW or more must include a system to sequester its CO2 emissions.
In a world where the true costs of power were externalized for all to see, this might spell the death knell for King Coal and help bring solar and wind and tidal energies further to the energy spotlight. Instead, the EU will also ask for over $200 million to speed carbon capture's technological advancement and its cost-effectiveness. So the companies are lining up with carbon capture projects - Sweden's Vattenfall will be one of the first to unveil carbon capture at the Schwarze Pumpe coal-fired plant in Germany. Their are critics on both sides of the carbon capture question.Peter Fairley of Carbon Nation is in favor, saying CCS is ready for prime time, and might eventually cost just around $.02 per kilowatt hour. Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenburg is convinced carbon capture and storage is key to the country's freshly-minted goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 (Norway's an early leader in the technology). In the U.S. carbon capture has that silver-bullet aura - there are incentives in the Energy Bill President Bush signed in December 2007, and one of the really gee-whiz projects is in none other than Mattoon, Illinois at the coil-fired, CO2 neutral FutureGen project - scheduled to be online in 2017 (yes, 2017).
Treehuggers love innovation, so if CCS can get cheap enough and popular enough fast enough to make a meaningful dent in helping stabilize CO2 emissions, it must deserve a place in the panoply of solutions we'll likely need. The EU certainly seems to think so. But there is something innovative another CO2 'capture' idea that more and more climate activists and commentators such as George Monbiot are bringing to the fore...why don't we just leave the oil in the soil while we get on with the hard enough task of generating enough clean energy for us all? Via ::NyTeknik.se (Swedish only) and Transnational Institute