Agriculture and Energy Committee

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Facts

July 20, 2010

“The potential of carbon capture and storage is enormous,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “Aside from reforestation and stopping deforestation, nothing ranks as high.”

What is CCS?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and storing it in deep geological formations. It could enable an 85 percent reduction of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power generation, industrial processes and synthetic fuel production, which account for 40 percent of the United States’ CO2 production.

CCS involves three main steps:

(1) CO2 Capture- is possible either before combustion (decarbonization of fossil fuels) or after combustion (capture from flue gas) using different processes.

(2) Compression and transport by pipeline or tankers- CO2 must be compressed to be transported by pipeline or tankers. Compression is also needed for final geological storage.

(3) Storage - geological storage in deep saline formations, mature oil and natural gas fields, and unmineable coal seams and basalts.

Coal and Electricity Generation

According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States has 28.3 percent of the world’s supply of coal. The energy content of the nation’s coal resources exceeds that of the entire world’s known deposits of recoverable oil. Coal is the prime fuel for power generation in the country and will continue to be so in the future. Today, it supplies more than half the electricity consumed by Americans.

Because of the importance of coal-fired electric generating plants to America’s power supply, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has been working with the private sector to develop technologies for a near-zero emission coal power plant.

The department’s research has pioneered more effective pollution controls for existing coal-fired power plants and has created new technologies that would eliminate air and water pollutants from the next generation of power plants.

For statistical information relating to the extraction and consumption of coal and the electricity it produces, visit the Energy Information Administration at

Economic Effects
COST– Because of the cost of installing and implementing CCS technology and the efficiency losses that may be incurred, it has not yet been used on a large scale coal fired power plant. Depending on the technology, CO2 purity and location, the typical cost of CCS in exisiting power plants ranges from $30-$90/ton CO2. This cost includes capture $20-$80/t; transport $1-$10/t per 100 km; storage and monitoring $ 2-5/t. The impact on electricity cost is 2-3 cents/kWh. Through innovation and technological advancement, it is projected that CCS cost by 2030 will be $25/tCO2, with impact on electricity cost of 1-2 cents/kWh.

Due to inefficiency of power plants caused by CCS, the increased use of fossil fuels is expected to be as high as 35-40 percent. This efficiency loss is projected to decline to as low as 6 percent for next generation power plants.

JOBS- According to a study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), the deployment of CCS technologies at advanced coal facilities would create or support more than 150,000 jobs nationally. The study found that 1.7 million job years, or one year of one job, of labor would be created through the construction of 124 new advanced coal facilities by 2025. “Deploying carbon capture and storage makes good economic sense, by enhancing existing employment and creating new well-paying jobs,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of ACCCE. “These technologies are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Where can it be used?

Formations best suited for CCS include saline reservoirs, mature oil and natural gas fields, and unmineable coal seams and basalts. The process requires areas where the CO2 cannot impact the drinking water supply. This is ensured by installing monitoring devices in the formations will be regulated by the EPA and states with approved programs.  

Current Projects/CCS Future
Enhanced oil recovery- A March 2010 report by Advanced Resources International (ARI), a research and consulting firm providing services related to unconventional gas (coalbed methane - CBM, gas shales, tight sands), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and carbon sequestration (CO2 sequestration), found that U.S. climate legislation, if enacted, could potentially lead to large volumes of captured CO2 from power plants and other industrial sources, accelerating enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and boosting oil production by 3-3.6 million b/d by 2030, assuming all the captured CO2 were to be used for EOR. Mike Godec, ARI vice-president and author of the report, said most power plants likely to be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology are within 700 miles of oil basins having EOR potential. Department of Energy (DOE) funding under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 funds syngas CCS projects for EOR, such as Leucadia's Indiana Gasification SNG project and Mississippi Gasification SNG project. Both plants will transport compressed CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in Texas oil fields via the Denbury Green Line pipeline system.

FutureGen is a Department of Energy project to build the first near zero emissions coal fired power plant. The plant, to be located in Mattoon, Illinois, will produce electricity from coal, which is the lowest cost and most abundant domestic energy resource, while employing CCS technology. The initiative is a public/private partnership intended to utilize coal for energy while minimizing the carbon footprint.

Five CCS projects are currently in preliminary phases throughout the country. Three of the projects, located in North Dakota, West Virginia and Texas, are designed to demonstrate "post-combustion" technologies in order to reduce part of the power plant's emissions. In California and Texas, two power plants will gasify coal, separate out hydrogen and use it in a combustion turbine to produce electricity, and then use the heat to make steam that drives a second turbine to produce more electricity. In these "integrated gasification combined cycle" plants, a portion of the captured emissions may be injected into oil fields that are no longer productive to force the remaining oil out. All five projects are expected to be operational between 2014 and 2016.