Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Carbon capture and sequestration

Posted by Daniel Hall on October 29, 2007

Those of you who are interested in energy and environmental issues, and particularly developments in Congress on these issues, should check out E&ETV and their daily news program OnPoint. Last week they interviewed John Venezia of WRI about carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), in conjunction with the release of an 8-page overview from WRI. It’s an excellent primer on how the technology works and what lies ahead in terms of research, development, and demonstration. One key message:

Natural gas processing plants that use captured CO2 for EOR [enhanced oil recovery] represent “low-hanging fruit,” and this type of project may be economically feasible at just $10/ton CO2; however, the sequestration potential is limited…. Today, a cost driver of about $40–60 per ton of carbon dioxide is required to make CCS economically feasible at a much larger scale at power plants.

My take? Getting this technology to work at far lower costs would be a really big deal. China has a lot of coal sitting around, it needs a lot of power, and it is very unlikely to be willing to pay $40–60 per ton CO2 to reduce emissions in the near (or even not-so-near) future.

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