Alstom shares are down 55% over the past five years, though most of that loss coincided with the financial crisis. Air Liquide stocks are up 4% since 2007 despite a financial crisis plunge.
But hold off on investing in these companies until projects kick off and it's clear who's handling them. China may be open to foreign cooperation only until it can buy its own licenses for the technology. The Asian Development Bank, which has tried to help China control air pollution since 2008, also cites holes in the country's related regulations.
Money poses another problem. One demonstration project at one factory costs $500 million. So governments worldwide had offered $23.5 billion as of last year, often via competitive funding programs.
Globally, just eight large-scale projects are working now, with six more under construction. Canada and the United States are particularly aggressive. Total CO2 storage capacity of all 14 projects will exceed 33 million tons a year, same as "preventing the emissions from more than 6 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year," the Global CCS Institute says in a 2011 report.
If China's willing to go for it, the Asian Development Bank says, other countries might follow. A large-scale demonstration of the bagging-and-burial of carbon dioxide in China would "drive the technology's commercialization globally," the lender's statement says.
Meaning, more cleanup chances for the same contractors.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.