Thursday, September 04, 2008

Challenges For A Comprehensive CO2 Capture Strategy

Aug 15: The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a report entitled, Capturing CO2 from Coal-Fired Power Plants: Challenges for a Comprehensive Strategy. According to the report summary, "Any comprehensive approach to substantially reduce greenhouse gases must address the world’s dependency on coal for a quarter of its energy demand, including almost half of its electricity demand. To maintain coal in the world’s energy mix in a carbon-constrained future would require development of a technology to capture and store its carbon dioxide emissions. This situation suggests to some that any greenhouse gas reduction program be delayed until such carbon capture technology has been demonstrated. However, technological innovation and the demands of a carbon control regime are interlinked; a technology policy is no substitute for environmental policy and must be developed in concert with it.

"Much of the debate about developing and commercializing carbon capture technology has focused on the role of research, development, and deployment (technology-push mechanisms). However, for technology to be fully commercialized, it must also meet a market demand -- a demand created either through a price mechanism or a regulatory requirement (demand-pull mechanisms). Any conceivable carbon capture technology for coal-fired powerplants will increase the cost of electricity generation from affected plants because of efficiency losses. Therefore, few companies are likely to install such technology until they are required to, either by regulation or by a carbon price. Regulated industries may find their regulators reluctant to accept the risks and cost of installing technology that is not required. . .

"Finally, it should be noted that the status quo for coal with respect to climate change legislation isn’t necessarily the same as 'business as usual.' The financial markets and regulatory authorities appear to be hedging their bets on the outcomes of any federal legislation with respect to greenhouse gas reductions, and becoming increasingly unwilling to accept the risk of a coal-fired power plant with or without carbon capture capacity. The lack of a regulatory scheme presents numerous risks to any research and development effort designed to develop carbon capture technology. Ultimately, it also presents a risk to the future of coal."

Access the complete 39-page report (
click here). [*Climate]