Carbon capture is a dream for oil companies and other polluting industries. It goes like this: power plants that are able to capture more than 80 percent of CO2, carbon pipes that take liquified CO2 down to old oil wells, and also mass producing hydrogen. Something that will allow the world to lick the last drops of oil, coal and gas guilt-free. Spanish newspaper El País has published a very interesting article on the possibilities of this technology, which we'll summarize here.

As our readers know, the EU really thinks that carbon capturing is a suitable solution. After signing the Kyoto protocol, Europe should have reduced CO2 emissions by 18 percent in 2012 over the 1990 value. However, the EU is expecting higher reductions according to United Nation's Climate Change Panel: 50 percent less in 2050. And there's nothing as goos as capturing that CO2 to reach that goal: By 2020 there should be commercially viable carbon capture projects side-by-side with power plants. For starters, 12 projects should be ready in 2015.

Let's have a look at some projects around the world:
  • Exxon: Once one of the leaders in denying climate change, now uses an old technique: CO2 is injected in oil wells to help extract oil. The technique is ready, so the company is using it to actually store CO2.
  • Statoil: The Norwegian oil company takes away the CO2 which comes mixed with natural gas and stores it a salty aquifer more than 3000 ft. below the sea bed. They're also preparing three more projects to be installed alongside powerplants.
  • BP: With three projects in Australia, California and Scotland, BP expects to use carbon capture projects to create hydrogen and store CO2 before 2012. Anglo-dutch Shell and French Total have similar projects.
Continue reading after the jump

[Source: El País]
However, the focus should also be put on emerging countries such as China and India. China is opening a new power plant (using coal) every 5 days. These two countries will be responsible of 50 percent of the expected increase in energy usage between now and 2030.

Environmentalists aren't that excited about these technologies and insist that the focus should be put on renewable sources of energy, not "band-aid" systems that will, in turn, increase energy usage. It's expected that carbon capture will increase the cost of electricity anywhere from 20 to 85 percent but will also use about 25 percent of that energy to store CO2. There are also serious concerns on how sure this storage can be, because leakage would be almost unnoticeable.

Nevertheless, carbon capture technology is being pushed forward: The EU is completing legislation schemes to support it by 2010.

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