Carbon Capture Reality Check
Coal fired electricity produces 50% of America’s electricity and 82% of the CO2 emissions that come from generating electricity. (The use of coal is described in greater detail in Carbon Folly.)
Capturing CO2 from existing coal fired power plants has yet to be proven on a large scale. If it ever works on a large scale it will require building one new power plant for every three existing coal fired power plant retrofitted with carbon capture equipment.
The reason one new power plant must be built for every three retrofitted with carbon capture equipment is that the carbon capture equipment consumes electricity and energy produced by the power plant. This parasitic load reduces the amount of electricity the plant can send to the grid by 30 to 40%.
It will be necessary to build enough new generating capacity to equal17% of our current production of electricity to replace what is lost from carbon capture.
This equates to around 88 additional nuclear power plants or another 175,000 wind turbines rated 1.5 MW.
Approximately 20 new nuclear plants are being planned, in the United States which is far short of the 88 needed for the sole purpose of supplying the electricity lost from carbon capture. Between 2007 – 2009, the United States built around 3900 new wind turbines each year, far short of the 175,000 needed to replace the electricity lost from carbon capture.
Without these replacement power plants, carbon capture would cause a shortage of electricity.