Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies offer an opportunity to mitigate carbon emissions from coal power plants, which continue to supply more of the world's electricity than any other single source. However, the most effective deployment strategies and the cost of the technology's application are still uncertain.
Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) researchers Roger Sathre and Eric Masanet recently completed a study that helps to alleviate some of this uncertainty. Their research examined several plausible pathways for CCS deployment, to determine and compare the energy and climate implications of the different pathways by integrating three analytical elements: scenario projection of energy supply systems, temporally explicit life cycle modeling, and time-dependent calculations of radiative forcing.
The scenarios represented three different CCS deployment strategies: (1) no CCS, (2) CCS for only new power plants, and (3) CCS for existing and new power plants. The scenarios for the U.S. coal-fired power fleet extended to the year 2100, to account for the full life span of the existing fleet of coal power plants. The study examined cumulative primary energy use; cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxides; and cumulative radiative forcing for each scenario.
Sathre and Masanet showed that over the 90-year period:
Other important findings were that:
Sathre, Roger and Eric Masanet. "Long-Term Energy and Climate Implications of Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Strategies in the US Coal-Fired Electricity Fleet." Environmental Science & Technology. August 2, 2012.
Schrope, Mark. "Sooner Is Better For Coal Emissions Scrubbing." Chemical & Engineering News. August 20, 2012
Marshall, Christa. "Researchers Say a Surge of Carbon Capture Units Will Be Needed by 2050." ClimateWire. August 20, 2012