Issue Date: August 20, 2012
Study Looks At Carbon Capture
If coal-fired power plants began now to deploy systems for capturing and storing greenhouse gases, they’d see a drop in efficiency, requiring them to burn more coal to meet electricity needs. Still, doing so would prevent enough greenhouse gas emissions to have a substantial climate payoff by 2100, according to a new climate-modeling study. The study, which appears in Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es3006332), looks at coal plants in the continental U.S. and models the impacts of three carbon capture and storage (CCS) installation scenarios through 2100: no CCS, CCS only at new power plants, and CCS at new plants and at existing plants where retrofitting is feasible. Compared with no action, the study finds, the retrofit scenario reduced long-term climate heating by nearly 50%. Outfitting only new plants reduced heating by about 25%. The large difference is because CO2 lasts for roughly 100 years in the atmosphere, the study says. Any gases not removed by scrubbers early in the model’s span heat the atmosphere throughout the century. The study comes as the future of coal-fired power plants and CCS technology is under political debate.
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