Shell, CCS and Clean Coal

Shell are advertising their version of the energy future prominently in the NY Times as sponsors of NY Times Extra. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) figures prominently and have a nice write-up on it. CCS needs to be better understood by the public and all efforts are appreciated. Nevertheless, they haven’t got the artwork right on many levels….least of which is trying to catch a gaseous CO2 with a net.

Shell CCS Ad

Another thing which gets to me is using the term clean coal to indicate coal gasification with CO2 capture. Clean coal is a misnomer – coal can never be CLEAN. I work with coal gasification myself and believe that this a critical area in the near future – but selling it as clean is doing a disservice. It gives skeptics cheap shots at the technology, as can be seen at sites such as This is Reality and Coal is Dirty.

I do not agree with the main theme of either of these sites. Like it or not, coal will be the predominant fuel for the next 30-50 years and CCS is a viable technology for mitigation of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2) . More on CCS and coal gasification in later posts.



Filed under CCS, Coal

4 responses to “Shell, CCS and Clean Coal

  1. Matt Dernoga

    You’re so right, here’s what I’ve written about clean coal

  2. Rahul Anantharaman

    Hi Matt. Thank you for your comment. Nice write up. A quick response to your article here.

    While we both agree on that the nomenclature ‘clean coal’ is ridiculous, it appears that we do no agree on much more.

    You mention in your column “Except we don’t have the technology to do Carbon Capture and Storage.” We do have technology for CCS, albeit no one which is commercially viable. This leads me to the other point you make in your column “CSS technology is expected to make coal power cost 78 percent more than conventional coal-fired plants”. Yes, that is true. All other alternative fuels – biomass, solar, wind etc – are subsidized to make them competitive. The numbers you see are before any subsidy. Further, costs will come down with as experience is gained with building many such plants.

    It is unlikely that coal will stop being an attractive source of energy any time soon and CCS is the best way to mitigate such emissions. I hope to explore these issues in subsequent posts.


  3. Ajit Bopardikar

    IEEE Spectrum publishes an issue every year related to the technologies and innovations that they consider as successes and failures. Among the successes was an article on CCS based on the work done by a Swedish group. You may want to have a look at it. I think this is the July 2008 issue or thereabouts.
    Trust all is well.

    • Rahul Anantharaman

      Thank you for the tip Ajit. It is probably the group in Chalmers that has done very good work on CLC (Chemical Looping Combustion).


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