Siting Is a Constraint to Realize Environmental Benefits from Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal power plants reduces onsite carbon dioxide emissions, but affects other air emissions on and offsite. This research assesses the net societal benefits and costs of Monoethanolamine (MEA) CCS, valuing changes in emissions of CO<sub>2</sub>, SO<sub>2</sub>, NO<sub>X</sub>, NH<sub>3</sub> and particulate matter (PM), including those in the supply chain. Geographical variability and stochastic uncertainty for 407 coal power plant locations in the U.S. are analyzed. The results show that the net environmental benefits and costs of MEA CCS depend critically on location. For a few favorable sites of both power plant and upstream processes, CCS realizes a net benefit (benefit–cost ratio >1) if the social cost of carbon exceeds $51/ton. For much of the U.S. however, the social cost of carbon must be much higher to realize net benefits from CCS, up to a maximum of $910/ton. While the social costs of carbon are uncertain, typical estimates are in the range of $32–220 per ton, much lower than the breakeven value for many potential CCS locations. Increased impacts upstream from the power plant can dramatically change the social acceptability of CCS and needs further consideration and analysis.