Published In: EnergyBiz Magazine March/April 2011
CARBON STORAGE TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING BOTH IN Europe and America even in the face of financial, technical and regulatory challenges.
Alstom currently has six major carbon capture and storage pilot installations in operation and another two under construction. We even have second-generation technology at an advanced stage of development in our laboratories. As previously announced, we are also working on five large projects for commercial-scale demonstration, which will test three different capture technologies on a variety of fuels and at a scale of 250 megawatts, each due to store over a million tons of CO2 per year.
Despite this impressive effort, and the dedication of all stakeholders, financial closure of CCS projects remains a significant challenge in most cases. This is owing to the fact that there is not yet a clear business model emerging for CCS. In Europe, we have the CO2 Trading Scheme, but the CO2 price is not high enough to justify CCS, and there is no long-term visibility. In North America and Canada, federal legislation on cap and trade failed to pass, and the only current business model is enhanced oil recovery, whereby CO2 is sold to operators to improve the recovery rate of their wells. But that potential is far too scattered and intermittent to support true widespread deployment of CCS. Finance will therefore remain an issue until governments decide either to give a strong and stable price to carbon, or to create an even playing field through regulation or tariffs for all decarbonized energy production technologies, including CCS.