Toward Energy Sustainability

Monday, November 8, 2010: 4:35 PM
251 D Room (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Costas Tsouris1, Doug S. Aaron2 and Kent Williams1, (1)Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, (2)Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is considered a promising technology to mitigate anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. However, CCS currently faces economic and environmental risks. After more than a decade of research, the cost for CCS remains prohibitively high. In addition, very limited parallel benefits are offered by CCS while it introduces significant environmental risks. A method is proposed in this presentation to compare CCS with low-carbon energy technologies based on carbon avoidance and economic burdens and benefits. Examples include three alternative energy technologies that were compared with CCS. It was found that, with a current estimate of the cost of CCS, wind energy avoids 190% more CO2 per dollar than CCS, nuclear energy avoids 430% more CO2 per dollar than CCS, and geothermal energy avoids up to 450% more CO2 per dollar than CCS. These alternative energy technologies also generate revenues, whereas the income potential for CCS is expected to be negligible. Based on these calculations, target costs of CCS that would allow it to become competitive, on a carbon avoidance basis, with alternative energy technologies have been determined. These target costs can be used to screen various CCS processes. The biggest benefit of the proposed evaluation method is that it allows a ranking of various low-carbon energy technologies based upon the most important factors, i.e., economics and carbon avoidance. Ranking based on these criteria will help us determine an optimized energy portfolio history that can lead to energy sustainability.

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See more of this Session: Sustainable Energy Plenary
See more of this Group/Topical: Sustainable Engineering Forum