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Economic and Environmental Assessment of Natural Gas Plants with Carbon Capture and Storage (NGCC-CCS)
Babaee, S. AND Dan Loughlin. Economic and Environmental Assessment of Natural Gas Plants with Carbon Capture and Storage (NGCC-CCS). Presented at 34th USAEE/IAEE North American Conference, Tulsa, OK, October 23 - 26, 2016.
Natural gas combined cycle turbines (NGCC) have been argued to be a "bridge" to a low carbon future. One of the many arguments in their favor is that NGCC can be retrofit with carbon capture equipment (NGCC-CCS). The work presented here is a sensitivity analysis in which we examine how various assumptions about the technology's cost and performance, as well as assumptions about the context in which NGCC-CCS competes, affect its market penetration potential.
The CO2 intensity of electricity produced by state-of-the-art natural gas combined-cycle turbines (NGCC) isapproximately one-third that of the U.S. fleet of existing coal plants. Compared to new nuclear plants and coal plantswith integrated carbon capture, NGCC has a lower investment cost, shorter construction time, and new plants canmore easily be sited. NGCC can also be fitted with carbon capture equipment either during construction or as aretrofit. As a result, NGCC is seen as a potential bridge to a low-CO2 future, which would increasingly rely ontechnologies such as wind, solar, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture as those technologies mature [Cole et al.(2016), Nichols and Victor (2015), and C2ES (2013)]. A logical approach may be to displace coal with new NGCCin the near-term, building NGCC near geological storage sites. Later the NGCC could be retrofit with CO2 capture(NGCC-CCS) when the regulatory or economic drivers are in place [IEA (2007)]. There are, however, technicalchallenges to widespread deployment of NGCC-CCS. First, fugitive methane emissions associated with natural gasproduction, transmission, and distribution processes could offset some of the climate benefits of using natural gas[McJeon et al. (2014)]. Second, applying carbon capture retrofit technologies to NGCC results in cost and energypenalties [Teir et al. (2010)], both of which affect its competitiveness. Third, the lower carbon content of natural gasmay yield difficulties in capturing CO2 economically [Rubin et al. (2012)]. Fourth, stringent GHG reduction targetsmay make natural gas plants less attractive in the long-term, even with carbon capture since these plants would stillhave some CO2 emissions [Cole et al. (2016)]. Answers to the following questions are necessary to understandmore fully the potential role of NGCC-CCS: How is NGCC-CCS competiveness affected by technologyassumptions (e.g., NGCC cost and efficiency; CO2 capture cost and capture rate), fuel prices (e.g., for natural gasand competing fuels), technological developments in competing technologies (e.g., in wind, solar, and advancednuclear power), lifetime extensions of existing electricity production capacity (e.g., nuclear plants), the stringency ofCO2 reduction targets, and whether these targets account for upstream methane leakage? Furthermore, is NGCCCCSmore competitive as a low-CO2 bridge technology in some parts of the country than others?