Last updated: 4 december, 2009 - 16:36 GMT

Carbon capture and global warming

Steam turbines inside American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant, West Virginia,

The Mountaineer coal power station will store about 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, 2.1km underground.

The world has a dilemma when it comes to coal, 40% of our electricity comes from coal-fired power stations - 70% in the case of China.

It is a cheap and abundant fuel, and it is also one of the main sources of the carbon dioxide which is clogging up the atmosphere.

World leaders meeting in Copenhagen are wrestling with how to create cheap fuel with higher living standards - but also how to engineer a slow-down - or even a halt to global warming.

One answer might be in new technologies that capture waste greenhouse gases like the CO2 emitted by coal-fired power stations and simply bury it.

If that worked, it might be a way of minimising disruption to our living standards as we try to clean up the planet.

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The Mountaineer coal power station in West Virginia is pioneering carbon capture, and it will store about 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

But this is just 1.5% of the plant's total CO2 output, and it will take ten years for the carbon capture to move to a commercial scale.

US coal and carbon capture: In pictures

First broadcast on Business Daily

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