Newfangled carbon-capture power plants supposedly burn coal without poisoning the planet. They don’t.
Extracting coal from the ground and disposing of its toxic byproducts makes a dirty mess no matter how it’s burned. But this “clean coal” ruse is conjuring up billions of dollars in government subsidies.
Take the 110-megawatt Boundary Dam plant in Canada’s Saskatchewan province, the world’s first carbon-capture operation. It cost $1.2 billion to get it switched on last year. That’s several times the price tag for a standard coal-fired plant or building a wind farm or utility-scale solar project capable of generating the same amount of energy — enough to power 100,000 homes.
Going with wind or solar would have produced zero emissions without burning any fuel, reducing environmental and monetary costs down the line.
Another carbon-capture boondoggle is slated to open next year on this side of the Canadian border: Southern Co.’s Kemper County plant in Mississippi. It’s an even bigger cautionary tale.
Kemper’s construction costs have tripled to more than $6 billion since crews first broke ground in 2010. The project is more than two years behind schedule and in trouble. TheMississippi Supreme Court ruled in February that the locals were unfairly shouldering cost overruns via higher electric bills.