Word that the U.S. Department of Energy is doling out more than $100 million to support five experimental carbon capture projects sends a clear signal on how out of step the agency is and how the coal industry remains a robust lobbying force despite its fading role in the U.S. electric sector.
The DOE, as bureaucratic a monster as any arm of federal government, announced on Friday that it would be spending tax dollars on long-shot carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects in Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wyoming,
Carbon capture proponents continually refuse to put their own money on the line
This is Washington at its worst, overly influenced by special interests working behind the scenes—in this case to extract taxpayer dollars at the behest of carbon capture proponents that continually refuse to put their own money on the line.
All five of the awards announced Friday would be to pay for development of ideas having to do with capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and storing it underground.
All have three common core flaws:
THEY ALSO IGNORE THE FAR MORE SENSIBLE SOLUTION OF SIMPLY CEASING TO PRODUCE THIS CARBON DIOXIDE ALTOGETHER around a market-driven synchronicity that is playing out already and that costs nothing.
IEEFA research on recent trends in U.S. electricity generation for the first two months of 2020, for example, shows that something on the order of 50 million tons of carbon dioxide were eliminated just by declines in coal generation (join our webinar tomorrow that gets into the details of this trend). Even if the increase in gas-fired generation is factored in, the overall decline in carbon emissions is still significant, and is gaining momentum, as can be seen by relative increases in renewables and nuclear in the first two months of this year, both carbon-free sources.
The experiments in question and the DOE handouts by dollar amounts are as follows:
The time of coal-fired generation is passing, and giving a declining industry more money is a poor choice of public investment. Taxpayer dollars can and should be spent in ways that support a more sustainable and profitable future instead.