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MIT coal study urges co2-control demos

March 19, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 12

Capturing carbon dioxide and sequestering it underground is essential to allowing continued use of coal to meet the world's energy needs, says a new report by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors. However, the cochairs of the group, John Deutch and Ernest J. Moniz, warn that the U.S. must move much faster on conducting real-world, commercial-scale demonstration projects to capture and inject CO2 underground. They note that no commercial-scale U.S. coal power plant that captures CO2 is operating today nor is there any injection system placing CO2 in deep saline formations, the most promising geologic injection location. The report is particularly critical of Department of Energy R&D coal programs for being too slow and underfunded. Moniz said an investment of $800 million a year for capture and sequestration would fill the bill. The report also says a regulatory system that has both public and political support is needed to move capture and sequestration technologies along. It states that pricing of CO2 emissions is necessary to provide a financial incentive to encourage capture and sequestration technologies as well as to spur development and funding for new cleaner coal and renewable power systems. Deutch and Moniz also note that U.S. leadership in this area will be required to encourage capture and sequestration projects in China and India, which have no incentive to fund new carbon-limiting technologies as they rush to develop their economies and provide basic needs to their people.


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