China's Dirty Job Could Benefit Foreign Firms

TAIPEI ( TheStreet) -- Natives of Beijing call it a sunny day when a dull patch of yellow shows through a pasty white sky.

In Taiyuan, center of China's coal belt, people figure the eternal coats of black soot on their cars, doorknobs and hands are part of life. Hong Kong, with basically no industry of its own, complains that greyish air wafts into its territory from mainland China's Pearl River Delta.

China's got filthy air. Efforts to control its innumerable factories and motor vehicles have not taken care of the problem.

As a result, some 70% of the world's incremental carbon dioxide emissions of one gigaton comes from fossil fuel use in China, the International Energy Agency says.

With that staggering statistic in mind, the Asian Development Bank announced on Aug. 14 it would help the industrialized country -- with economic growth of 9% to 10% a year -- lay plans to "capture and store" carbon dioxide.

But the low-interest lender with the job of helping poorer countries can't bag CO2, the chief offending material, on its own, even with buy-in from the haze-harried Chinese government. Contractors will be needed, likely from abroad.

Meaning, firms such as Dow Chemical ( DOW) and General Electric ( GE) stand to capture and store some money.

The 67-member, Manila-based Asian Development Bank (which works something like the World Bank) has allocated $2.2 million to help China develop a plan for use of carbon capture and storage, which the lender calls an "essential set of technologies to prevent climate change."

Ask any native Beijinger about how 15 or 20 summers ago it used to rain for a day or two at a time. Now you just get high heat with the odd thundershower.

Speaking of heat, the Canberra-based Global CCS Institute (CCS stands for Carbon Capture and Storage) says the technology behind capture and storage can hold greenhouse gas concentrations at levels key to stopping projected temperature rises to two degrees Celsius by 2050.

Carbon capture and storage involves building specialized factories at existing ones to siphon off the CO2. Carbon dioxide would then be compressed and moved into underground storage containers. The process can potentially rid 90% of the CO2 from a fossil fuel-based plant.

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