The global rise in carbon pollution seems near unstoppable. If not unstoppable, it will be very difficult to stablize global concentrations of carbon pollution below 450 or even 500 parts per million, levels that will insure significant temperature increases, but prevent the most dangerous possible outcomes.
Given the enormous carbon pollution from China and soon India, a key to stabilizing carbon concentration levels could be carbon capture and storage technology that turns coal and natural gas plants into zero carbon polluters. The technology exists to do so, but the costs are high and must come down for widespread adoption.
The United States Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative is attempting to partner with private industry to develop a commercial power plant that would demonstrate the technology and begin a process of lowering its costs. As a result, DOE has provided $450 million to Summit Power Group in Texas is attempting to develop a 400 megawatt plant that will gassify coal at a cost of $2 billion or a capital cost of $5 per watt plus fuel and other production costs. See http://www.texascleanenergyproject.com/news-room. The plant would capture 2.5 million tons of carbon per year and sell the gas for enhanced oil recovery, an important piece of the plant's business plan.
Summit Power Group announced this week that it had entered into $2 billion of engineering, procurement, and construction projects that are conditioned on a successful financial closing. The economics of this plant have been challenged by the decline in gas prices, but its location in Texas, where power prices have actually gone up, as a result of a generation capacity shortage that has caused blackouts, means that this plant just might get the needed private financing. See http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120214005291/en/Summit%E2%80%99s-Texas-Clean-Energy-Project-Reaches-Major.
Stay tuned for more on the fate of this plant.