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Argument: Without a price on carbon, CCS will not spread

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Teryn Norris. "What’s Next for Nuclear Power and Carbon Capture Technology?" The Energy Collective. September 23, 2010: "Unfortunately, with the demise of climate legislation, the U.S. CCS industry now faces a difficult uphill battle. The reason for this is simple. CCS technologies add large capital costs to plant construction, and CCS retrofits to existing plants are almost as costly as building a plant from scratch. In addition to the equipment and technology requirements, the CCS process itself reduces a power plant’s efficiency by roughly 25%, which amounts to a substantial decline in revenue for the plant owner. Therefore, without a substantial price on carbon, it doesn’t make economic sense for a coal or natural gas producer to build a plant equipped with CCS technology.

[...] Another recent report by The Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (ITF-CCS) confirmed the National Academies’ assertions that widespread deployment of CCS will require both a price on carbon as well as cheaper CCS technologies. While the Obama administration put a very positive spin on the ITF-CCS report, the White House has no answer to the fundamental problem of CCS: without a price of at least $60 per ton of carbon (as Andrew Revkin points out, a price much higher than anything seriously considered under the failed climate legislation) CCS is a cost that the industry simply cannot bear.

Thus, the death of comprehensive climate legislation poses a significant setback to the future of an American CCS industry. Even though proposed carbon prices under the failed climate legislation were to be significantly less than $60 per ton of carbon, the domestic CCS industry was set to receive billions of dollars in federal funds to help nurture the budding industry and help bring down costs for CCS technologies."

As the National Academies’ committee summarizes: "It is inconceivable that CCS will prosper if there is not a large [political] effort to reduce CO2 emissions, because unless a significant cost is imposed on CO2 emissions at a power plant it will nearly always be less expensive to vent the CO2."[1]

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