The United States can now officially count two disastrous, expensive failures of carbon capture and storage — a technology key to realizing the dream of “clean coal.” The Kemper County Energy Facility was supposed to burn cheap, dirty lignite coal without emitting climate-altering carbon dioxide. Mississippi ended up with a very expensive natural gas plant that pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like any other.
The idea was to turn coal into a synthetic gas, from which planet-warming carbon dioxide would be removed before it was burned. Backed by federal cash, Kemper was supposed to show that, under the right circumstances, power generators could burn coal without contributing to global warming. The plant was supposed to cost $2 billion. Instead, the technology never operated for long stretches, and the project went nearly $5 billion over budget. Last week, its owners finally relegated the plant to burning natural gas, the most common fuel used in electricity generation in the United States, without any diversion of greenhouse emissions.
Salt Lake Tribune