Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Role of Carbon Capture Technologies in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Models: A Parametric Study for the U.S. Power Sector

Working Paper

Varun Rai - Research Fellow at PESD
John Bistline - William K. Bowes, Jr. Stanford Graduate Fellow at Mechanical Engineering

Issued by
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Working Paper #85, June 2009

This paper analyzes the potential contribution of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the U.S. electricity sector.  Focusing on capture systems for coal-fired power plants until 2030, a sensitivity analysis of key CCS parameters is performed to gain insight into the role that CCS can play in future mitigation scenarios and to explore implications of large-scale CCS deployment.  By integrating important parameters for CCS technologies into a carbon-abatement model similar to the EPRI Prism analysis (EPRI, 2007), this study concludes that the start time and rate of technology diffusion are important in determining the emissions reduction potential and fuel consumption for CCS technologies. 

Comparisons with legislative emissions targets illustrate that CCS alone is very unlikely to meet reduction targets for the electric-power sector, even under aggressive deployment scenarios.  A portfolio of supply and demand side strategies will be needed to reach emissions objectives, especially in the near term.  Furthermore, the breakdown of capture technologies (i.e., pre-combustion, post-combustion, and oxy-fuel units) and the level of CCS retrofits at pulverized coal plants also have large effects on the extent of greenhouse gas emissions reductions.