Awhile back, I wrote about James Fallows’ cheerleading on behalf of clean coal, and my own skepticism about the future of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). My issues with Fallows’ article stemmed more from a distorting/omitting of the data than anything else, but on a broader scale, I think that the assumption that CCS is the most important technology when it comes to dealing with carbon emissions downplays a lot of the uncertainties of CCS while making it seem like the development of renewables is no longer important.
So I was interested to see this NYTimes article from one of my former co-workers the other day. The article talks about AEP (a huge utility with a coal-heavy portfolio), and their recent shelving of a CCS project in West Virginia. With the prospects of climate change legislation dimming (if not completely extinguished), they concluded that the project was no longer worth the cost.
Meanwhile, wind costs are near competitiveness with natural gas fired power, and solar costs are coming down as well. Are either of these surefire solutions? Not at all. But it seems to me that they are no farther away from commercial viability than CCS, so it’s a little premature to be putting all of our eggs in the CCS basket.