“The question is whether there is a CCS market anywhere in the world,” Herzog says. “If there isn’t, why develop the technology?” Indeed.
With many of the world’s nations dragging their feet on cleaning up fossil-fuel emissions, even slow progress stands out. This spring, China’s state-owned Huaneng Group plans to fire up the first phase of its flagship clean-coal demonstration project, moving the country one step closer to capturing and storing the carbon it emits. Despite being more than a year behind schedule, the GreenGen coal gasification plant in Tianjin puts China at the forefront of global efforts to exploit coal resources without releasing carbon dioxide.
In 2008, leaders of the G8 group of nations called for the development of 20 large-scale projects demonstrating technologies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) by 2010, but countries have been slow to embrace the costly plants. Delays and cancellations have affected all but a handful of high-profile initiatives in Europe, the United States and Australia, whereas China, despite delays of its own, is still pushing forward to develop indigenous technologies.