• Peer-Reviewed
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association · 2001

Electricity from Fossil Fuels Without CO₂ Emissions: Assessing the Costs of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration in US Electricity Markets

Timothy L. Johnson and David W. Keith

The decoupling of fossil-fueled electricity production from atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions via CO₂ capture and sequestration (CCS) is increasingly regarded as an important means of mitigating climate change at a reasonable cost. Engineering analyses of CO₂ mitigation typically compare the cost of electricity for a base generation technology to that from a similar plant with CO₂ capture and then compute the carbon emissions mitigated per unit of cost. It can be hard to interpret mitigation cost estimates from this plant-level approach when a consistent base technology cannot be identified. In addition, neither engineering analyses nor general equilibrium models can capture the economics of plant dispatch. A realistic assessment of the costs of carbon sequestration as an emissions abatement strategy in the electric sector therefore requires a systems-level analysis. We discuss various frameworks for computing mitigation costs and introduce a simplified model of electric sector planning. Results from a “bottom-up” engineering economic analysis for a representative U.S. NERC region illustrate how the penetration of carbon capture and sequestration technologies and the dispatch of generating units vary with the price of carbon emissions, and thereby determine the relationship between mitigation cost and emissions reduction.

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