Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) an environmental remedy for burning coal?

3/29/2014 12:38:00 AM

I am no environmental industry expert but I do know that our society is built on consuming much more than we need and there is no sign of stopping. If we maintain our way of living we are going to consume more. We can argue that we should spend less and so forth but this is only from a naive and narrow perspective of the people in the developed country. Those people in the much less privileged part of the world will definitely see it differently. And if everybody do learn to consume less, the heart beat of our economic growth engine that build up our modern economy today, consumption, will slow down so much that unemployment rate will sky rockets. 

Coming back to the Earth and to today, the whole world is in such conflicting situation to drive economic growth and keep our world clean. China is right at the very center of such quagmire. There are 350 millions of people in China living under US$2 a day. They all want economic development and better living so it means that China will need to build more roads, buildings and generate more electricity.  In order to come up with enough steel, cements and electricity to uplift the standard of living for these people in destitution, China will not be able to escape from burning coal, which is one of the cheapest but dirtiest ways of supply energy to produce the materials. 

I have stumble upon this article which illustrate the challenges of burning coal in great details. It covers an emerging technology called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The technology basically take away the CO2 and store it under ground during the process of coal burning. I am no more than an ignorant kid when it comes to energy and environmental issue but it looks interesting. It sounds logical and simple enough to me that this may be a good remedy until the day comes where solar and other green energy technologies are ready for big scale. 

I quote from the article
Energy experts believe that it will be at least a century before modern societies can truly convert to renewable energy. Until then, they argue, carbon capture and storage is the only way to deal with the 10.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide that the world’s coal-fired power plants throw off annually. Here is an explanation of amine scrubbing—the best known method being tested—which typically recovers 90 per­cent of a plant’s greenhouse gas emissions. —V.T.

Do take a look.