Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MIT Report Says Carbon Capture & Sequestration Is Critical

Mar 14: Leading academics from an interdisciplinary MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) panel issued a report that examines how the world can continue to use coal, an abundant and inexpensive fuel, in a way that mitigates, instead of worsens, the global warming crisis. The study, The Future of Coal--Options for a Carbon Constrained World, advocates that the United States assume global leadership on this issue through adoption of significant policy actions. Led by co-chairs John Deutch, Institute Professor, Department of Chemistry, and Ernest J. Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, the report states that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is the critical enabling technology to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly while also allowing coal to meet the world's pressing energy needs.

According to Deutch, "As the world's leading energy user and greenhouse gas emitter, the U.S. must take the lead in showing the world CCS can work. Demonstration of technical, economic and institutional features of CCS at commercial scale coal combustion and conversion plants will give policymakers and the public confidence that a practical carbon mitigation control option exists, will reduce cost of CCS should carbon emission controls be adopted and will maintain the low-cost coal option in an environmentally acceptable manner."

In addition to the major recommendations of the necessity to perfect CCS, the report says, "Key changes must be made to the current Department of Energy research development and demonstration program to successfully promote CCS technologies. The program must provide for demonstration of CCS at scale; a wider range of technologies should be explored; and modeling and simulation of the comparative performance of integrated technology systems should be greatly enhanced."

David Hawkins, director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a member of the study’s advisory committee said, “The MIT report concludes that we have the know-how to capture and safely store heat-trapping emissions from power plants now on the drawing board, but it points out that much more needs to be done if this technology is to be used to prevent carbon pollution from coal on a massive scale. While energy efficiency and renewables continue to be the most effective means of cutting global warming pollution, carbon emissions’ capture and storage is essential as long as we continue using large amounts of coal.”

NRDC said in a release that the report is "silent on the most urgent coal investment issue facing the industry and the environment: What global warming emissions standards should apply to proposed new coal power plants? The facts set forth in the report justify a recommendation to require all proposed new coal plants capture carbon pollution for underground disposal, but the report sidesteps this question."

Access a release from MIT and link to the complete 192-page report, summary and related information (
click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]