CBO says carbon capture and storage technologies will not be commercially viable unless the government sets a price on carbon or restricts emissions.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still too expensive to be commercially viable, and federal efforts to reduce the cost have not yet been fruitful, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office June 28.
Congress has provided $6.9 billion in funding to the Energy Department since 2005 to develop and demonstrate the commercial potential of carbon capture and storage, but the efforts have not brought the cost of the technology down significantly enough to make it economically viable, according to the report, Federal Efforts to Reduce the Cost of Capturing and Storing Carbon Dioxide. CBO prepared the report at the request of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
CCS is the practice of trapping emissions from burning coal, compressing them into a fluid, and storing it deep underground. The Obama administration said it is on track to complete six CCS demonstration projects by 2016 and has said the technology will be commercially viable within 10 years.
But making the technology economically viable would require a large investment in installing carbon capture and storage systems at new or existing power plants, and such an investment seems unlikely, CBO found.
“In the absence of a significant technological breakthrough, it seems clear that a large amount of new CCS capacity … would be needed to reduce costs substantially,” CBO said. “Such an investment seems unlikely in the foreseeable future and it might not occur even if the technology became more competitive economically.”