I saw a deceptive headline in my Google Alert for new nuclear power plants this morning. Can you imagine – a headline writer who chooses a deceptive headline!
The story, titled FACTBOX-U.S. Coal Plant captures and stores 2% of its carbon comes from Reuters News Service. It sits above an article that provides some interesting information about a demonstration project at a West Virginia coal plant. After reading the article, I determined that the key points were not well represented in the headline. The demonstration plant is only capturing a tiny fraction of the CO2 that the plant produces and it is doing so with a capital cost investment for the capture and storage system that is not so far from the cost per kilowatt capacity of a brand new nuclear power plant.
Though that cost might include some monitoring and testing facilities that would not be needed in a full scale model, most of the required systems are pipes, pumps and stack gas capturing systems whose cost would not appear to be something that can be drastically reduced.
*The project diverts flue gas from the plant’s smokestack to a 20,000 square foot (1,858 sq metres) structure where the carbon dioxide is trapped using a chilled ammonia solution.
*Once separated from the other gases, the carbon is compressed into a liquid-like state and transported through about 1,300 feet (400 metres) of pipeline to two separate sites at the plant.
*The carbon is then injected into saline reservoirs about 8,000 feet (2,440 metres) underground.
Though some people will vociferously disagree when I state that “clean coal” is a figment of a marketing department’s imagination, it might be more difficult to disagree with the statement that affordable clean coal is a very challenging goal.