With only a handful of pilot projects in operation around the world, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has not played a significant role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. CCS has, however, been valuable as a fiction for all those who want, for whatever reason, to avoid dealing explicitly with the fact that stabilizing the global climate will require ending the use of fossil fuels, and particularly coal. For example, rather than prohibiting new coal-fired power stations, the US EPA has proposed that only power stations equipped with CCS technology should be permitted. Since new coal stations are mostly uneconomic even without CCS, this amounts to a ban, but can be justified simply as requiring best practice.
It now appears that this fiction has outlived its usefulness. Recent reports suggest that the EPA will drop the CCS requirement in favour of the weaker requirement that all new coal-fired stations should use supercritical combustion. There are two main reasons for this
(a) The requirement might not stand up to legal challenge on the basis that CCS is not a feasible technology
(b) No new coal plants are likely to be built anyway
Meanwhile, the EU is struggling over proposals to stop subsidies for coal-fired power. Again, the compromise was to subsidise only projects with CCS. But the coal lobby is now arguing that
proposed requirements on carbon capture and storage (CCS) to neutralise emissions have to be realistic as the technology is still in its infancy.
In this context, “realistic” means supercritical and therefore theoretically ready for CCS, as opposed to actually using the technology.