Azara Blog: Committee of MPs promotes carbon capture and storage

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Date published: 2006/02/09

The BBC says:

Capturing and storing carbon dioxide from power stations could help Britain meet its energy needs while curbing greenhouse gas emissions, MPs say.

The Commons science and technology committee says in a report that all new coal power stations should be suitable for carbon capture.

The costs are likely to be similar to using renewable energy, it says.

It urges the government to lead reform of international treaties to ensure storing CO2 underground is legal.

"The UK is struggling to meet its targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2010 and 60% by 2050," the report notes.

"At the same time, domestic concerns over security of supply are increasingly dominating the debate about energy policy, reflecting unease over UK dependence on imported gas.

"We find that there is significant scope for carbon capture and storage technology to contribute both to reducing CO2 emissions in the UK and abroad, and to enhancing the security of the UK's future energy supplies."

Storing carbon dioxide in rock has already been shown to be safe and effective by the Norwegian company Statoil, which has been piping the gas down into a reservoir under the sea floor for almost a decade.

But capturing the gas in the first place is a different issue.

Using current technology reduces the efficiency of power stations by about a quarter, meaning that more need to be built to produce the same amount of electricity, with costs rising as a result.

Nevertheless, the committee concludes that the costs of generating low-carbon electricity this way will be "comparable" to nuclear fission or renewables such as solar panels and tidal turbines.

Nothing new here. CO2 capture and storage ought to be part of the future energy equation. But as with all new technology, we don't really know the real long-term impact of this approach. Ten years is not enough to claim this is "safe and effective", just that it is not obviously unsafe or ineffective.

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