Tech

The U.S. government spent $ 1.1 billion on carbon capture projects that mostly failed

Coal is expected to become obsolete as renewable energies are become cheaper, but the US government is keeping it afloat with the promise of capturing the carbon emissions and storing them underground. Now, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has said federal agencies have spent $ 684 billion on mostly failed coal-fired power generation (CCS) carbon capture and storage projects. Gizmodo reported. It also spent $ 438 million on three other CSC industrial projects, two of which were canceled.

“DOE [Department of Energy] provided nearly $ 684 million to eight coal projects, resulting in an operational facility, “according to the GAO report.

The DOE’s process of selecting coal projects and negotiating funding agreements has increased the risks that the DOE will fund projects that are unlikely to be successful.

Not only did the Energy Department use a “high-risk screening” method to select projects, it negotiated and funded them too quickly, the report said. The coal negotiations lasted only three months instead of the usual year “based on DOE’s desire to begin expediting American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds of 2009”. On top of that, he bypassed usual cost controls and supported projects “even if they did not meet the required key milestones.”

The DOE recently said it wanted to dramatically reduce the cost of carbon capture technology through a program called Carbon negative shot. The goal is to remove CO2 directly from the air and sequester it underground at a cost of less than $ 100 per tonne, deploying it at the gigaton scale.

However, the easiest and cheapest way to cut gigatons of emissions would be to phase out expensive coal-fired power plants altogether, according to one. last year’s report the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). This is because the costs of renewables have plunged over the past decade, effectively making them cheaper than coal. And of course, adding CCS technology to coal would dramatically increase the costs. That said, coal and fossil fuels are a charged political subject in the United States, despite the global risks of climate change.

Ultimately, the GAO recommended increased congressional oversight for DOE’s spending on CSC. “In the absence of such a mechanism, the DOE risks spending significant funds on CCS demonstration projects that are unlikely to be successful.”

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