• Bruce Rich
  • Environmental Forum
  • September-October 2009
  • p. 20

As the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions grows, many policymakers and environmental groups view carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) as a way to square the circle....CCS would greatly increase the capital and operating costs of new plants. According to MIT, the cost of a new 500-megawatt plant with CCS is much higher than one without, generating efficiency is reduced by a quarter, and coal consumption increases 31 percent. In terms of “levelized cost” (which includes operating expenses, debt payments, and investment returns) over the plant life, electricity is 61 percent more expensive. A new Harvard study on “Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture” cites a 10 cent per kilowatt hour additional cost for CCS which needs to be added to a cost for new coal plants of around 10 or 11 cents per kwh, for a total of more than 20 cents — a cost greater than many estimates for new nuclear power....The cost of CCS is such that, in comparison, rapidly maturing technologies such as wind and solar thermal are highly competitive. They should be the overwhelming priority for new energy investments, alongside scaled up energy efficiency. In the developing world, where the external environmental and social costs of coal power are especially brutal, the argument is even stronger that scarce additional international finance should go to these low carbon alternatives.

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