New Options For Carbon Capture – With Natural Gas
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bills in Congress to subsidize carbon capture and storage might have an unexpected impact at natural gas power plants.
In a shift from a hard line, some fossil fuel corporations and their Washington allies are now backing tax credits for carbon capture.
John Thompson, director of the Fossil Transition Project for the Clean Air Task Force, says coal with carbon capture is still expensive, but he says it works better with gas – potentially cheap and politically viable.
"It's one of the few climate technologies that I think could actually accelerate in a Republican Congress and a Republican White House," he states.
Carbon-capture projects at coal plants have run late and over budget, so far. With Republicans questioning the truth of climate change and blocking efforts to charge utilities for emitting carbon, progress on the technology had been stalled.
Emissions from burning natural gas are basically water and CO2. So Thompson says carbon capture can trap 90 percent or more of the carbon and only use 15 percent of the generated electricity – much better than with coal.
Thompson points out with federal subsidies and the possibility of actually selling the pressurized CO2, a new gas plant with carbon capture could compete with inexpensive power from wind and even conventional gas.
"They have the impact, potentially, to drive significant amounts of new natural gas plants that would otherwise simply vent their CO2," he explains.
Thompson says carbon capture has been used with gas for decades, providing CO2 for dry ice and for injection into old oil fields to enhance production.
He says using well-worked-out carbon-capture systems, oil companies in states such as Texas already have injected three quarters of a billion tons of carbon.
"When you combine this carbon capture with enhanced oil recovery, you get not only this big carbon reduction but you can increase domestic oil supplies," he states.
Thompson stresses that to slow climate change, the gas industry will need to stop upstream methane leaks.