It’s time to accept carbon capture has failed – here’s what we should do instead. Why go to all that bother when you can just half-fill the kettle, asks Tom Baxter from the University of Aberdeen. For years, optimists have talked up carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an essential part of taking emissions out of electricity generation. Yes, build wind and solar farms, they have said, but they can’t be relied on to produce enough power all the time. So we’ll still need our fleet of fossil-fuel-burning power stations; we just need to stop them pumping carbon dioxide (CO₂) into the atmosphere. The problem is that the process is costly and energy intensive. For a gas-fired power station, you typically have to burn 16% more gas to provide the capture power. Not only this, you end up with a 16% increase in emissions of other serious air pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Concerns have also been expressed aboutthe potential health effects of the amine solvent used in the carbon capture. In short, it is time for governments to stop wasting time and money on technologies like CCS that aren’t working. They need to finally get serious about leading a major drive for energy efficiency instead.
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