For the second time in the last two years, First Generation Carbon has proposed a $24.5 billion project called “National Carbon Capture Initiative,” also known as “Carbon Capture and Storage.” The emissions would go into a massive underground injection well, which will cool, dry, store, and then replace the atmosphere with CO2, taking us out of the noxious greenhouse gas business. There’s only one hitch: The project is unpopular.
The National Climate Assessment, in 2013, found a one-third chance of 2 degrees of warming (a catastrophe). If we stand alone to this program and decide to replace it with nothing, the Earth will heat up by 18°F. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted carbon-free energy would be 80 percent by 2030, up from 32 percent now, with more than half of that coming from electric vehicles. U.S. carbon storage currently sucks some 2 billion tons of CO2 a year; with that technology, U.S. storage would grow to more than 50 billion tons. According to the Energy Information Administration, CO2 pricing could raise $13.5 billion to boost carbon-capture and storage projects. That would make the negative-emissions road ahead entirely worth it.
The problem for current critics is that here’s a $24.5 billion project that has bipartisan support from leaders on both sides of the aisle.
It won’t work, though.
Let’s review. First Generation Carbon’s “National Carbon Capture Initiative” project has two parts: Utilities will have to upgrade their plants, and the government will send them money for the changeover. It will save power companies money, because plants will use less coal. Meanwhile, power companies will have to prove to the government that they can easily replace the plant using cheaper and more carbon-free alternatives. But will they?
In 2009, a carbon-capture project in South Texas was never completed. The industry cried to federal regulators for a price on carbon, but the EPA held off for two years. As in the past, the biggest fear today among opponents is that there’s not enough time to build the carbon capture system enough and have reliable and efficient alternatives to replace it.
The proposed $24.5 billion project, called National Carbon Capture Initiative, would install 180,000 rotary catalytic CO2 injection wells in 20 oil basins to retrieve CO2 that would have otherwise leaked out of fossil fuel power plants or oil-fracturing operations.