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23 Sep 2008 05:09:12

Carbon capture could be viable by 2030

Carbon capture could be viable by 2030
Capturing carbon from power plants and burying it in underground chambers could become financially viable by 2030, according to a new report.

Although the technology is not yet developed, management consultancy McKinsey & Co, which authored the report, believes that by 2030 the industry could have built up enough momentum so that it is sustainable without the need for government subsidies.

However, the report says this is possible only if stiffer penalties are levied on polluters and the technological hurdles are cleared.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is still in its infancy and involves using chemical processes to extract CO2 from power plant emissions, liquefying it and burying it underground.

The EU has called for 12 CCS demonstration plants to be built by 2015 to investigate the technology and how to cut future costs – at the moment the report estimates installing CCS on a power plant adds €1 billion (£793 million) to the cost of construction.

Advocates of the technology point out that 30 of Europe's coal-burning plants contribute a tenth of the EU's total carbon dioxide emissions. They also note that the emerging democracies of India and China are building coal plants rapidly.

However, critics are concerned that liquid CO2 could seep out of storage areas and contaminate seas, where it would create acidic water. Green campaigners are also concerned that focusing on CCS will slow down the development of truly sustainable technologies.

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