"That technology is here, today," Manchin said at the time.
Later that year, the Obama administration awarded AEP more than $330 million in federal money to expand the Mountaineer CCS project. But by July 2011, AEP had dropped plans for that expansion, citing among other things the failure of federal legislation that would have mandated carbon dioxide emissions cuts by the nation's power plants.
"Setting a carbon price or providing some other financial incentive for CCS use is an essential first step to CCS commercialization," the new Utah study reported.
"Without a sufficiently high carbon price or some other comparably strong inducement, CCS is unlikely to reach widespread commercialization," the report said. "While this conclusion may be unremarkable to those familiar with climate change mitigation possibilities, in the electricity sector, its importance is unmistakable."
Scientists have for years recommended swift reductions in carbon dioxide emissions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Experts have also concluded that the key to coal's survival in a carbon-constrained world is to perfect technologies to capture carbon dioxide emissions and pump those emissions underground. However, CCS has never been deployed on a commercial scale at a coal-fired plant.
Critics worry about the expense, safety and a host of technical hurdles, including the huge infrastructure needed to install the equipment on power plants across the world. Environmental and citizen groups also are hesitant to support CCS, worrying that the talk of "clean coal" allows the government and industry to ignore what they argue are other much-needed improvements in the regulation of how coal is mined and burned, and how coal wastes are handled.
A recent review by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service repeated the long list of concerns and potential problems with CCS, and another major paper, published in April -- also by the journal Energy Policy -- warned that CCS deployment is far behind the schedule that is needed for it to contribute to managing global warming.
"It is clear that the current development path will not fulfill expectations of CCS being commercially available at the end of this decade, nor will CCS be widely applied in time for significant contributions to needed CO2 emission reductions," said the April paper, written by Björn Nykvist, a researcher at Stockholm University.
"CCS will only be developed if policy-makers continue to favor coal based power generation while simultaneously developing stringent climate policy."
In their survey, the Utah researchers found that most CCS experts ranked the lack of commercial-scale projects near the bottom of their list of concerns about CCS development.
"This stands in stark contrast to the scholarly literature, which long has suggested that large, commercial-scale projects must be completed in defined, sequential stages before CCS can truly get off the ground," the Utah researchers reported.
"Contrary to this view, our survey suggests that the CCS industry is confident that the technology can be made fully operational today. This implies that calls for commercial-scale demonstration of CCS technology may have more to do with investor confidence and social acceptance than engineering capacity and technological know-how."Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.