Editorial on “Negative Emissions Insurance”

By Sally Benson, in Science, here (gated unfortunately).

One thing I would also note is how critical carbon prices are for making biomass energy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS) a viable technology. BECCS technology is very similar to conventional fossil-fired CCS, but the inputs for fossil CCS (i.e coal, natural gas) are much cheaper than the inputs for BECCS (i.e. biomass). Biomass is unlikely to become less expensive than fossil fuels without strong carbon prices: BECCS generators actually generate revenue on net from carbon prices (biomass fuel is carbon neutral, while CCS is carbon negative), whereas fossil CCS generators end-up breaking even under carbon pricing schemes (fossil fuels carbon charges net out against carbon revenues from CCS). Until carbon prices can pay BECCS generators more than the additional cost of using biomass fuel, we aren’t likely to see many BECCS installations (without other types of BECCS-specific government mandates/subsidies, that is).

Update: More articles on BECCS from June 26: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/185336-carbon-neutrality-has-failed-now-our-only-way-out-of-global-warming-is-to-go-carbon-negative

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