Sunday, May 23, 2010

Will Power Plant Carbon Capture Costs Prove Prohibitive?

Carbon capture technology for coal fired power plants has been one of the darlings of Congressional committees working on climate change bills during the last year and a half, but panelist comments from industry leaders at the 12th Annual Electric Power Conference and Exhibition suggest that two aspects of carbon capture – cost and facility location – could toss a monkey wrench into the grand legislative plans surrounding this approach to greenhouse gas emission control. A representative of AES Corporation told the conference last week that under cap and trade the carbon dioxide allowances for coal fired electricity cost about $2 per ton. On the other hand, construction of a carbon capture facility adds $37 per ton to the cost of coal fired power, and transportation of CO2 to a storage site could add another$13 per ton, for total carbon capture cost of up to $50 per ton.

Just as the issue of nuclear power spent fuel rod disposal generated the acronym NIMBY, for Not In My Back Yard, conference attendees were busy discussing the new acronyms already in use regarding opponents of carbon capture facility site construction: NUMBY for Not Under My Back Yard; NOPE for Not On Planet Earth; and the new pejorative acronym for environmental activists opposed to carbon burial sites – BANANA, for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. At least the debate is enriching Washington’s alphabet soup.
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