The world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide have agreed to share advances in clean coal technology. The terms of that deal were finalized after a meeting between U.S. and Chinese energy officials earlier this week in Billings, Montana.
Coal is still a dominant fuel in the U.S. and China. But in both countries, the coal industry is struggling because of natural gas and concerns over air quality and climate change. Clean coal technology aims to capture the carbon emissions produced by burning coal but so far, installing that technology on a commercial scale has proven to be too expensive.
The U.S. recently pulled funding from a landmark carbon capture project known as “FutureGen” in Illinois, and the builder of the first commercial-scale carbon capture plant in Mississippi is facing bankruptcy because of soaring costs. Meanwhile, in China, U.S. and Chinese partners are working on six carbon capture pilot projects, including a large scale demonstration project that would ultimately store one million tons of CO2 per year.
At the meeting in Montana, Shi YuBo, a top official in China’s energy agency, admitted that there is a lot of work still to be done to put greenhouse gases to good use.