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Carbon capture and storage finally approaching debut

Long-awaited method to rein in carbon emissions still faces hurdles and doubts

3:11pm, August 22, 2014
carbon capture and storage illustration

POCKETING POLLUTION  Carbon capture and storage can cut up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. With more than a dozen false starts, the technology has yet to be demonstrated on a commercial scale. Two projects nearing completion could soon change that. 

Like every other project, Jänschwalde failed.

In 2008, it was set to become the world’s largest demonstration of just how cleanly coal could be burned to generate electricity. The revamping of an aging power plant in Germany, Jänschwalde was to become a paragon of a technology that can slash up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel–burning power plants — the single largest global source of greenhouse gas emissions. The technology, called carbon capture and storage, or CCS, collects planet-warming carbon pollution produced by power plants and permanently removes it from circulation. As the world steadily increases its use of fossil fuels, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar, CCS holds massive potential to help avert the dire climate scenarios predicted for the next century.

Yet, like more than a dozen similar projects, Jänschwalde was abandoned. CCS, with all its potential, returned to a state of limbo. For

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