Carbon capture and storage has been identified as an important element in China’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions. The country depends on coal to meet most of its energy needs, and its emissions are thought to be the highest in the world today.
Doubts still exist, however, about the commercial and environmental viability of CCS technology. Amid concerns about the long-term safety of underground storage sites, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has not yet endorsed the technology.
The Chinese government curtailed its coal liquefaction programme in 2008 because of worries about pollution and excessive water consumption. Shenhua’s Ordos plant – which is expected to go into full operation later this year — is one of only two major facilities that has been allowed to proceed.
Scientists involved in a pilot CCS project begun by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the British Geological Survey in 2007 have been looking into the possibility of storing carbon in depleted oil and gas fields and unmined coal seams.
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