The most important thing about clean coal technologies

In early 2017, the Petra Nova project was launched in Texas, the world's first plant to capture carbon dioxide from emissions as part of the "clean coal" concept (that is, the safe collection of CO2 from coal combustion). But already in May 2020, it had to be stopped due to a drop in profitability, moreover, instead of the declared 33% filtration, emissions in practice reached only 17.5%. This is an unpleasant, but typical situation - according to the Global Institute for the Study of Carbon Capture and Storage, today out of 51 launched "clean coal" projects in the world, only 19 are working.

The “clean coal” concept assumes that by eliminating the two key products of fossil fuel combustion, soot and smoke, the use of coal becomes “clean” and does not pollute the environment. To do this, using various technologies, the maximum amount of carbon dioxide or carbon is extracted from the emissions. It can be pumped into salted mines for storage, burned in furnaces, and in the case of Petra Nova, gas was fed 82 km to the rig to increase the pressure in the drilling fluid and increase oil production.

Any new good idea always has a drawback - it is very expensive to implement. The administration of the US President allocated $ 84 million for the launch of Petra Nova, because the project was largely political. And when oil prices collapsed in the spring of 2020, oilmen stopped production and refused to accept carbon dioxide. Similar problems are observed around the world - it takes $ 100 billion a year to install treatment equipment, but this investment will never pay off.

The International Energy Agency has calculated that to keep the increase in global temperature at 2 degrees by 2040, it is necessary to capture 4 gigatons of CO2 per year, and ideally - 7 gigatons. Current capacities, including clean coal projects, do not exceed 40 megatons per year, which is a hundred times less than required. Therefore, no matter how attractive this concept may look, it will not be enough in the current situation.