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article imageCarbon capture may go down in defeat as wind power takes hold

By Karen Graham     Oct 18, 2019 in Technology
Fossil fuel stakeholders are leaning on carbon capture to keep coal and other fossil fuels relevant, but the technology has yet to prove itself commercially. However, renewable energy technologies are surging globally, and at competitive prices.
Since the early1980s, researchers have worked on developing and testing technologies aimed at capturing CO2 from the air—a field broadly referred to as carbon capture, carbon dioxide removal or negative emissions technologies - with the aim of slowing climate change.
And while it is true that carbon capture has moved from a few theories to some really promising technologies, they hit a snag when the fossil fuel industry decided to become backers. The thing is, even with this backing, fossil fuel-based power has continued to lose its grip on the energy market.
The door slams shut for carbon capture
And the door slammed shut for carbon capture in 2015 when the U.S. Department of Energy suspended funding for FutureGen, withdrawing $1 billion of Recovery Act funding. FutureGen was supposed to be a "national showcase for clean coal technology."
Artist concept of FutureGen Power Plant of the Future
Artist concept of FutureGen Power Plant of the Future
US Department of Energy
FutureGen has an interesting history, though. The project dates back to the Clinton Administration and got a reboot early in the Bush Administration under the name FutureGen. If completed, it would have been the world's only fully integrated coal power plant and carbon capture project in the world.
The Department of Energy ordered the suspension of FutureGen in February 2015. The funds, appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, needed to be committed by July 1 and spent by Sept 30, 2015. The government also cited the Alliance's inability to raise the requisite amount of private funding.
Today, the United States still has only one utility-scale carbon capture project in operation, located at the Petra Nova coal power plant in Texas. The only other coal-fired power plant with CCS is the 110 megawatts (MW) Boundary Dam plant in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Petra Nova  a joint venture between NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration.
Petra Nova, a joint venture between NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration.
Petra Nova
Offshore wind roars to life
It has taken the U.S. a few years to wake up to the value and efficiency of offshore wind energy, while offshore wind power projects have been operating in Europe since the early 1990s. One thing is for sure, though - offshore wind turbine technology has already proven itself in the global market.
The nation’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island, began operations in December 2016 in the waters of Rhode Island, with only five turbines and a combined capacity of 30 megawatts.
Fred Olsen Windcarrier s Brave Term  jack-up vessel was used in the construction of the Block Island...
Fred Olsen Windcarrier's Brave Term jack-up vessel was used in the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm.
Fred Olsen Windcarrier
Since that time - a number of states like Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York have put sizable mandates in place to speed up construction of the projects. Last summer, New York moved ahead with a new offshore wind energy contract with the Denmark-based energy firm Ørsted.
Dominion Energy is developing a small pilot project in Virginia that it said will inform its development of large-scale commercial wind. Dominion is looking to install a total of 2.6 GW of wind turbines in its leased area and plans to use the output to serve its own customers.
Vineyard Wind is one of three companies bidding on the offshore wind project.
Vineyard Wind is one of three companies bidding on the offshore wind project.
Vineyard Wind
Avangrid, an electric and gas utility and renewables developer with operations in 24 U.S. states was part of a group called Vineyard Wind that won a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. Vineyard Wind is also bidding for a second project in Massachusetts and a project in Connecticut, while pursuing projects in North Carolina, New York, and California, according to a June Offshore Wind Day presentation from Avangrid.
There is still more that can be done to accelerate the growth of offshore wind. “The offshore market is really taking off,” observes Devapriyo Das, senior communication advisor at Ørsted. “The technology is here, and the key is to scale it up faster. That will take more ambitious policies from governments around the world.”
More about Wind power, Carbon capture, Fossil fuels, Investment, Climate change
 
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