Pendulum Swings the Other Way, Europe to Back Clean Coal

WSJ reports in an article Europe rethinks Clean Coal.

Then Again, Maybe We Will: Europe to Back Clean Coal?

Posted by Keith Johnson

coal_art_200_20080417132945.jpg

A coal plant in Germany. (Associated Press)

When it comes to finding new energy sources, apparently you can never say never.

As recently as February, the European Union said there was “no possibility” of funding clean-coal technology, and left the ball in the court of private power companies, just as the U.S. government did when it pulled the plug on the FutureGen clean coal project.

Not so fast. The EU is now scrambling to fast-track funding for a dozen demonstration power plants that could capture and store emissions of carbon dioxide starting around 2015. Reuters reports:

The European Union may boost efforts to capture climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) and store it underground by pushing forward proposals for a dozen demonstration projects, EU officials said on Thursday […]A European Commission source said CCS could be detached from a package of energy reforms announced in January with the aim of reaching a political agreement in time for a meeting of EU ministers in June.

President Bush, in his Rose Garden climate speech Wednesday, called for more technology investment to tackle the nation’s energy challenge. But his administration also cancelled the nation’s big clean-coal project earlier this year on cost grounds. Little wonder, given how immature today’s technology is: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that capturing CO2 from coal plants costs about $150 per ton. That’s almost as much as the stuff costs in the first place. And it could take decades to make carbon capture and storage commercially viable, according to the DOE and many utilities.