• Peer-Reviewed
Energy Policy · 2003

Fossil electricity and CO₂ sequestration: how natural gas prices, initial conditions and retrofits determine the cost of controlling CO₂ emissions

Timothy L. Johnson and David W. Keith

Stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will require significant cuts in electric sector carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. The ability to capture and sequester CO₂ in a manner compatible with today’s fossil-fuel based power generation infrastructure offers a potentially low-cost contribution to a larger climate change mitigation strategy. The extent to which carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies might lower the cost of CO₂ control in competitive electric markets will depend on how they displace existing generating units in a system’s dispatch order, as well as on their competitiveness with abatement alternatives. This paper assumes a perspective intermediate to the more common macro-economic or plant-level analyses of CCS and employs an electric system dispatch model to examine how natural gas prices, sunk capital, and the availability of coal plant retrofits affect CCS economics. Despite conservative assumptions about cost, CCS units are seen to provide significant reductions in baseload CO₂ emissions at a carbon price below 100$/tC. In addition, the ability to retrofit coal plants for post-combustion CO₂ capture is not seen to lower the overall cost of CO₂ abatement.

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