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Moving towards commercialising carbon, capture & storage

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World Coal,

The National Coal Council (NCC) has released a new report, Levelling the Playing Field for Carbon Capture and Storage Technology, for the US Secretary of Energy that calls for creating a level playing field to deploy carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) used for coal, natural gas and industrial sectors at commercial scale.

The US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz requested the paper in advance of the U.N. Conference of Parties in Paris late this month.The paper offers recommendations to create "policy parity" for CCS to accomplish diverse energy policy objectives and inspects the state of play for clean energy development – including coal.

The authors have provided a gap analysis defining the difference between the current trajectory of CCS and what is needed to propel its progress."Coal will continue to be a major source of electricity in the United States and globally for decades to come," stated NCC Chair, Jeff Wallace, retired Vice President of Fuel Services for Southern Company. "The world needs CCS to achieve its environmental goals, and CCS offers the greatest opportunity to capture, use and store significant volumes of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels."

NCC Report Chair Glenn Kellow, Peabody Energy's President and CEO, explained that the US Department of Energy has stewarded a successful research and development program to spur early development of CCS technologies, but indicated there needs to be greater support to bring CCS to commercial scale."We believe the recommendations in this report will bring much needed advances to commercialise this vital technology and will help guide decisions on global facilities that will operate for years to come," commented Kellow. "This report addresses the path to near-zero emissions, which is recognised by global leaders as essential to carbon goals.”

Main recommendations from the report included:

  • Increasing financial Incentives for CCS to include incentives available to other clean energy sources.
  • Regulatory improvements being necessary in order to stop obstacles to construction and development of CCS projects. A first-of-its-kind regulatory blueprint is reported to be needed to remove these barriers. This blueprint would be applicable to power plants and carbon capture facilities and would apply to transportation and injection.
  • More research, development and demonstration were a key recommendation. The report indicated that the US Department of Energy must be a catalyst for additional commercial-scale demonstration projects, and such projects must commence immediately. The NCC believes that the US should set a goal of bringing online 5 to 10 GW of commercial-scale projects by 2025, and development must begin now.
  • More communication and collaboration was also highlighted as important. It was reported that the US Department of Energy must assure US and global policymakers and other stakeholders that fossil fuels will be used in coming decades to a greater extent than today, and there is a resulting need for CCS. The US Department of Energy should initiate international collaboration to support the prompt deployment of 5 to 10 GW of commercial scale demonstrations in addition to U.S. projects.

In assessing policy parity for CCS, the NCC noted US renewables received 12 times the federal subsidies compared with coal in 2013 even though fossil fuels produced 79% of US energy, and renewables 11%.

The NCC's Leveling the Playing Field white paper is the tenth report the Council has prepared for the US Secretary of Energy on carbon management policy and technologies since 2000.

The NCC Technical Report Chair and lead author was Fred Eames, Hunton & Williams, with Janet Gellici as a contributing author.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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