Carbon Capture Technology Pollutes the Air, Stanford Research Data Says

There is plenty of research doubting the plausibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an efficient tool in combating climate change. Now, a report published by Stanford University says that adding CCS to coal plants could be more terrible than having none whatsoever.

The research, led by Professor Mark Jacobson,​ analyzes the data from a coal plant with carbon capture and use (CCU), and a plant that absorbs carbon from air directly, a process known as synthetic direct air carbon capture and use,​ or SDACCU. Both these plants use gas to influence the carbon capture technology.

Air Pollution Increase

According to the study, both the plants either increase or withhold their participation to air pollution and diminish a bit over ten percent of carbon emissions, before even taking into consideration seizure or transient emissions.

There are a few disadvantages of the technology, including the high social cost of unrestricted pollution and the high financial cost of installing the tools.

“All sorts of scenarios have been developed under the assumption that carbon capture actually reduces substantial amounts of carbon,” said Jacobson.

Even so, this study discovers that it diminishes only a tiny fraction of carbon emissions, and it typically increases air pollution.

“Even if you have 100 percent capture from the capture equipment, it is still worse, from a social cost perspective, than replacing a coal or gas plant with a wind farm because carbon capture never reduces air pollution and always has a capture equipment cost,” Jacobson explained.

There are numerous studies questioning CCS as an efficient carbon solution. [Image: Yeroslav Boshnakov]
At the same time, wind replacing fossil fuels always diminish air pollution, and it has no capture gear cost.

This research is not the only one that questions CCS as an efficient carbon solution for countries such as Australia that want to keep their coal fires on place.

One of these studies, published late last year from consultancy Lazard,​ suggested that energy from an integrated gasification combined-cycle (GCC) plant with carbon capture would reach the price of $231 per megawatt (MWh). This is way more expensive than solar and also wind generation.

There’s Hardly Any Improvements

The data from Jacobson is expletive towards the ability of the technology to do its job, namely to prevent carbon from reaching the atmosphere, to start with. As per the report, the carbon captured at the two plants sums up to approximately 10 to 11 percent of general emissions generated, calculated as an average over 20 years.

This comes in severe contrast to some of the more positive and typical estimates of carbon capture technologies, the data reports. This includes the exerted about by some of Australia’s most renown politicians – about 85 to 90 percent of emissions.

The study also analyzes the social cost of carbon capture. This includes air pollution, probable health problems, economic expenses, and general contributions to climate change. The result states there is hardly an improvement at all on a coal plant without the technology put to use.

Even when the capture tool is powered by renewable electricity, Jacobson stated that it is better to utilize the renewable electricity rather than substituting coal or natural gas electricity.

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