Bet 837

Duration 20 years (02020-02040)

“Over the two decades to 2040, the total quantity of CO₂ captured and sequestered from every coal power station on the planet will be less than that emitted from Australia's Eraring power station.”


Holmes à Court's Argument

Carbon capture and storage on coal power is technically challenging and both capital and energy intensive.

As of June 2020 there are only two coal fired power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage technology in the world — Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan, Canada and Petra Nova in Texas, USA. These CCS projects are small and expensive prototypes, capturing well less than 2 million tonnes a year between them.

To put this number into perspective, in the 2019 financial year the coal-burning Eraring power station in NSW, Australia emitted almost 15.4 million tonnes, representing less than 0.2% of global coal power carbon emissions.

As of June 2020, Eraring is expected to close in 2031, and will have emitted on the order of 162 MtCO₂ since January 2020. Of course it may close earlier or later, or be upgraded or derated, and therefore emit more or less.

With high costs of coal+CCS technology, and falling costs of renewables, it generally does not make sense to retrofit coal power stations with CCS technology. As such, it is unlikely that many more (if any) coal+CCS projects will be built in period 2020–2040.

As such, the total amount of CO₂ captured and sequestered from coal fired power stations over 2 decades is likely be relatively small.

Challenge Holmes à Court!

Challenge Simon Holmes à Court to a bet on this prediction!