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New EPA Regulations on Fossil Fuel Emissions Could Lead to Power Shortages

  • The EPA's carbon capture mandates aim to reduce emissions but could lead to electricity rationing and higher costs.
  • Critics argue that carbon capture technology is neither cost-effective nor adequately demonstrated on a large scale.
  • Concerns are raised over the strain on the energy grid and delays in investment in new power plants amidst growing demand and infrastructure challenges.
Emissions

By Mish Shedlock of MishTalk

The lie of the day is from the EPA: Carbon capture will pay for itself (thanks to IRA subsidies). No, it won’t even with subsidies. Expect blackouts and a higher price for electricity.

Suite of Standards to Raise Costs, Reduce Output

Let’s take a dive into the EPA news release Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Suite of Standards to Reduce Pollution from Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants

“Today, EPA is proud to make good on the Biden-Harris Administration’s vision to tackle climate change and to protect all communities from pollution in our air, water, and in our neighborhoods,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By developing these standards in a clear, transparent, inclusive manner, EPA is cutting pollution while ensuring that power companies can make smart investments and continue to deliver reliable electricity for all Americans.”

A final rule for existing coal-fired and new natural gas-fired power plants that would ensure that all coal-fired plants that plan to run in the long-term and all new baseload gas-fired plants control 90 percent of their carbon pollution.

The final emission standards and guidelines will achieve substantial reductions in carbon pollution at reasonable cost. The best system of emission reduction for the longest-running existing coal units and most heavily utilized new gas turbines is based on carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS) – an available and cost-reasonable emission control technology that can be applied directly to power plants and can reduce 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the plants.

Lower costs and continued improvements in CCS technology, alongside tax incentives from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act that allow companies to largely offset the cost of CCS, represent recent developments in emissions controls that informed EPA’s determination of what is technically feasible and cost-reasonable. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes billions of dollars to advance and deploy CCS technology and infrastructure. EPA projects that the sector can comply with the standards with negligible impact on electricity prices, thanks to cost declines in CCS and other emissions-reducing technologies. EPA analysis also finds that power companies can comply with the standards while meeting grid reliability, even when considering increased load growth.

Final EPA Rule

The EPA’s Final Rule is only 1,020 pages long. There were 953 references to carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS).

I went through some of those 953 references and found these tidbits.

CCS is an adequately demonstrated technology that achieves significant emissions reduction and is cost-reasonable, taking into account the declining costs of the technology and a substantial tax credit available to sources.

The first component of the BSER [Best System of Emission Reduction] for base load combustion turbines is highly efficient generation (based on the emission rates that the best performing units are achieving) and the second component for base load combustion turbines is utilization of CCS with 90 percent capture.

One of the key GHG [Greenhouse Gasses] reduction technologies upon which the BSER determinations are founded in these final rules is CCS—a technology that can capture and permanently store CO2 from fossil fuel-fired EGUs.

I confess. I did not read all 1020 pages and don’t intend to. I have seen enough by reading through a dozen or so of the 953 references to CCS.

Returning to the Biden-Harris document I note references to “reasonable cost” and “largely offset the cost of CCS.” Thus CCS is admittedly not cost effective even with subsidies.

IISD Sustainable Development

For a rebuttal to the above Biden claims, please consider the International Institution for Sustainable Development article Why Carbon Capture and Storage Is Not a Net-Zero Solution for Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector

The poor track record of CCS in Canada is part of a broader trend. According to the Global CCS Institute (2022), the global growth of carbon captured by commercially operating CCS facilities has been much slower than anticipated. As of September 2022, only 30 commercial CCS projects are operating across all sectors around the world, capturing 42.5 Mtpa. This falls far short of the IEA’s (2009) previous target of 300 Mtpa by 2020. Most proposed projects have been withdrawn: of the 149 CCS projects anticipated to be storing carbon by 2020, over 100 were cancelled or placed on indefinite hold (Abdulla et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2021). In the United States, despite significant industry and government investment in the technology, more than 80% of proposed CCS projects have failed to become operational due to high costs, low technological readiness, the lack of a credible financial return, and dependence on government incentives that are withdrawn. Of those projects that are operating globally, 73% of the carbon captured is used for EOR.

Put simply, proponents of CCS have repeatedly over-promised on the technology’s ability to reduce emissions, and CCS projects have under-delivered.

CCS is both energy and capital intensive. The greatest amount of energy is required for the capture and compression of carbon, with additional amounts needed for transportation and storage. Capture and compression alone require 330–420 kWh per tonne of CO2 captured. CCS projects increase the energy demand of the facility they capture carbon from by 15%–25% on average, which stands to increase emissions given that the energy used to capture CO2 is often natural gas-powered electricity. In general, the technology is highly energy inefficient and generates its own emissions.

The above doc largely pertains to carbon capture in Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector, not electricity production, bit it is instructive on the difficulty of and inefficacy of carbon capture.

The lead CCS image is from that post.

Biden EPA’s Plan to Ration Electricity

The Wall Street Journal calls the CCS mandate Biden EPA’s Plan to Ration Electricity

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act says the EPA can regulate pollutants from stationary sources through the “best system of emission reduction” that is “adequately demonstrated.” Carbon capture is neither the best nor adequately demonstrated. As of last year, only one commercial-scale coal plant in the world used carbon capture, and no gas-fired plants did.

EPA says Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and funding in the 2021 infrastructure bill will “incentivize and facilitate the deployment” of carbon capture. But subsidies would have to be two to three times larger to make the technology cost-effective at a coal plant. Carbon capture reduces a plant’s efficiency, which also raises costs.

Because carbon capture uses 20% to 25% of the electricity generated by a power plant, less will be available to the grid. That means more generators will be needed to provide the same amount of power. But new gas-fired plants won’t be built because the technology will make them uneconomic. Talk about a catch-22.

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Another problem: CO2 must be stored underground in certain geologic formations, largely in the upper Midwest and Gulf Coast. Permitting new wells for CO2 injections can take six years. Pipelines to transport CO2 can take even longer. Green groups oppose pipelines for CO2 as they do for oil and natural gas.

All of this will hit while demand for power is surging amid new manufacturing needs and an artificial intelligence boom. Texas’s grid operator this week raised its forecast for demand growth for 2030 by 40,000 megawatts compared to last year’s forecast. That’s about seven times the power that New York City uses at any given time.

Texas power demand will nearly double over the next six years owing to data centers, manufacturing plants, crypto mining and the electrification of oil and gas equipment. When temperatures in Texas recently climbed into the 80s, the grid operator told power plants not to shut down for maintenance. Americans around the country are increasingly being told to raise their thermostats during the summer and avoid running appliances to prevent blackouts.

Even some Democrats are noticing the pinch on their voters’ pocketbooks. Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Henry Cuellar, Mary Sattler Peltola, Vicente Gonzalez and Jared Golden last weekend urged President Biden to defer finalizing EPA’s power-plant rules because they could “inadvertently exacerbate existing problems related to the unaffordability of electricity” and cause “increased risks to electric reliability.”

Mr. Biden’s new rules will surely draw a legal challenge. But as litigation plays out, the tremendous uncertainty will delay investment in much-needed new gas plants. Americans didn’t face energy rationing in Mr. Biden’s first term, but they might in a second.

The Inflation Reduction Act Keeps Biting in Predictable Ways

Biden plans to reduce inflation by raising costs, producing less electricity when more is needed, force people into EVs without a capable grid, pipeline captured carbon when the pipelines don’t exist and allegedly increase reliability.

It’s so stupid even some Democrats are concerned. Well not to worry, this can all be done at a “reasonable cost” with costs “largely offset” thanks to the IRA.

Expect blackouts and a much higher price for electricity as a key component of “reasonable cost”.

By Zerohedge.com

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