CCS Policy

CCS Policy

The previous three posts in this series (1, 2 and 3) on coal electricity generation with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) have examined the technologies to capture carbon-dioxide from coal power plants, sequester captured carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere, and the economics of a coal power plant with a CCS system. In this final post of the series, I will take a look at the policies and projects that the United States and other countries are engaging in to accelerate the commercialization of CCS technologies. If CCS is going to play a meaningful role in assisting the world’s transition to a clean energy economy, the public sector will undoubtedly have to play a large and active role in developing key CCS technologies and overcoming the barriers to deployment that CCS will face.

CCS Policy in the United States

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is allocating unprecedented amounts of funding to develop CCS technologies. The 2008 DOE budget allocated nearly $500 million for developing CCS technologies. In 2009, the DOE CCS budget increased to nearly $700 million, but the real increase in funding came in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the stimulus package), which allocated an additional $3.4 billion for CCS technologies. The four (semi-overlapping) flagship federal programs for developing CCS technologies are the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSP), the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI), the Carbon Sequestration Program, and the Gasification Technologies Program. Also of note is the beleaguered FutureGen program.

The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Program (RCSP) brings government agencies, universities, and firms from the private sector together to determine the appropriate capture and sequestration technologies and practices for each of 7 regions of the United States. The program also works to determine the regulations and infrastructure needs of each region that would facilitate CCS development. In 2005, the program completed its “characterization phase” which characterized the opportunities for carbon sequestration in each of the regions. Now, the RCSP program is in the validation and development phases which will involve small field tests and large carbon storage tests in the regions. For more information on the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Program, visit ww.netl.doe.gov/technologies/carbon_seq/partnerships/partnerships.html

The Clean Coal Power Initiative, like the RCSP program, is a public-private partnership. The CCPI is tasked with promoting technology transfer of advanced CCS technologies to the private sector by demonstrating new coal technologies to boost operating efficiency and reduce emissions of carbon-dioxide and other pollutants. CCPI was initiated in 2002 and currently has 5 active projects, 3 of which are operating and 2 of which are in the preliminary design phase. For more information on the CCPI projects, visit www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/cctc/ccpi/index.html

The Carbon Sequestration Program is a research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program that involves domestic and international projects for advanced CCS technologies. The program has three main components that cover the spectrum of CCS RD&D efforts. First, the core R&D element of the program conducts laboratory and pilot projects of new CCS technologies for capture, geologic storage, monitoring/verification/accounting of sequestered carbon-dioxide, simulation/risk assessment of CCS projects, and carbon-dioxide use/reuse. Second, the infrastructure element of the program, which overlaps with the RCSP program, seeks to develop the human capital, regulatory environment, and public acceptance necessary for deployment of CCS. Third, the global collaborations element of the program develops international knowledge and partnerships through internationally-shared demonstration projects and forums. For more information on the Carbon Sequestration Program, visit www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/carbon_seq/overview/index.html

The Gasification Technologies Program works to increase the efficiency and lower the costs of power systems that use advanced gasification systems to generate electricity. The program has a strong emphasis on developing technologies for coal gasification, which could be used in integrated gasification combined cycle systems (IGCC), a promising technology for CCS. The program seeks to increase the efficiency of coal gasification plants to 60% (on an HHV basis); today IGCC plants can achieve between 40-50% efficiency. Simultaneously, the program expects to decrease the plant capital cost of new coal gasification plants by 10-30% from today’s costs. For more information on the Gasification Technologies Program, visit www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/gasification/index.html

In addition to the four U.S. programs I indentified above, the federal government is also involved in a host of other programs. Most notably, the FutureGen program has received significant public and congressional attention in the U.S. The program seeks to build a first-of-its-kind coal IGCC plant with CCS in Illinois through a public-private partnership. The program has gone through several periods of funding restructuring, putting the program’s fate in jeopardy, but the recent 2009 stimulus package guaranteed $1 billion in funding for the program. FutureGen is an exciting project worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. More information on the program can be found here: www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/futuregen

CCS Policy Around the World

There are many exciting areas for growth for CCS outside of the United States. Canada, the European Union, China, and Australia are actively engaged in their own domestic CCS projects. In 2008, world leaders of the Group of 8 (G8) countries declared, “we strongly support the launching of 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects globally by 2010, taking into account various national circumstances, with a view to beginning broad deployment of CCS by 2020.” By 2015, the European Union is expected to have 10-12 large-scale operational CCS demonstration projects. Australia and Canada are also engaged in developing CCS demonstration projects and both governments are aggressively funding CCS.

In China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon-dioxide, CCS has recently become a national priority. While China is engaged in many major international collaborations for CCS, most notably with the European Union and the United States (including FutureGen), China is also undertaking major domestic research and demonstration programs. China’s domestic research programs are focused on carbon separation technologies and geologic storage with enhanced oil recovery and in saline aquifers. These programs have been funded by the Chinese government with a total of 55 million RMB (equivalent to about 8 million U.S. dollars). On the demonstration front, China’s flagship program is the GreenGen program which will first develop a 250MW IGCC plant and later build two 400MW IGCC plants, each with different rates of carbon-dioxide capture.

International CCS policy is coordinated by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), which represents 23 countries, including China, the United States, and the European Commission. The CSLF, established in 2003, facilitates cooperation to develop CCS capture and storage technologies, and assists with sharing information and transferring technological knowledge between countries. More information on the CSLF can be found here: www.cslforum.org.

Globally, there are 34 active CCS demonstration projects. A comprehensive database of all global CCS projects with factsheets for each project can be found here: http://sequestration.mit.edu/tools/projects/index.html

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