[USA] The final version of the Clean Power Plan includes a carrot for companies that use algae, or other processes, to turn captured carbon dioxide into biofuels and other products. If you can prove it reduces carbon emissions, the EPA says, states can count it toward their emission reduction targets.
And the algae industry says it has proof.
“EPA’s recent approval of an advanced biofuel pathway for Algenol Fuels’ Direct-to-Ethanol technology, as well as several other peer-reviewed life-cycle analyses of other pathways, clearly show that utilization of carbon by algae substantially reduces CO2 emissions to the atmosphere,” according to a statement released this morning by the Algae Biomass Organization. “There’s no doubt that algae carbon utilization can and will make an important contribution to achieving the Clean Power Plan’s emissions reduction goals.”
Not everyone is so sure, however, that contribution will be enough.
Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, called such biofuels “a non-starter” in a discussion I covered last week, because they emit captured carbon into the air. To be carbon neutral, they would have to use CO2 captured from the air.
“If carbon came out of the ground, it has to go back into the ground, and you put it ultimately in the air,” he said to an executive from Algenol. “Yes, you help because you didn’t use the petroleum you would have otherwise used, but the power plant made more CO2 than it made otherwise, and all of that CO2 ends up in the atmosphere.”
Algenol feeds carbon dioxide captured at two Florida power plants to algae that are destined to become ethanol. When burned, the Algenol fuel emits 69 percent less carbon than gasoline, said Timothy Zenk, the company’s vice president for business development.
And EPA must see promise in those numbers as well. In the final version of the Clean Power Plan released yesterday, EPA mentions algae specifically as a carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology. The Clean Power Plan laments a lack of monitoring and reporting mechanisms, but it expresses a commitment to the technology:
“Unlike geologic sequestration, there are currently no uniform monitoring and reporting mechanisms to demonstrate that these alternative end uses of captured CO2 result in overall reductions of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. As these alternative technologies are developed, the EPA is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to evaluate the efficacy of alternative utilization technologies, to address any regulatory hurdles, and to develop appropriate monitoring and reporting protocols to demonstrate CO2 reductions.”
In the meantime, state plans may allow affected EGUs (electric generating units) to use qualifying CCU technologies to reduce CO2 emissions that are subject to an emission standard, or those that are counted when demonstrating achievement of the CO2 emission performance rates or a state rate-based or mass-based CO2 emission. State plans must include analysis supporting how the proposed qualifying CCU technology results in CO2 emission mitigation from affected EGUs and provide monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements to demonstrate the reductions.
The EPA would then review the appropriateness and basis for the analysis and the verification requirements in the course of its review of the state plan. State plans must include analysis supporting how the proposed qualifying CCU technology results in CO2 emission mitigation from affected EGUs and provide monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements to demonstrate the reductions. The EPA would then review the appropriateness and basis for the analysis and the verification requirements in the course of its review of the state plan.
The Algae Biomass Organization took those paragraphs as an endorsement. And Algenol said the Clean Power Plan gives utilities a cheaper and easier way to reduce carbon emissions. Algenol pays its CO2 suppliers $1 per ton.
“The President’s revised Clean Power Plan rule acknowledges for the first time the value of carbon utilization, the cornerstone of Algenol’s Direct to Ethanol technology, as a method for utilities to reduce emissions from electricity production and comply with the Clean Air Act requirements for CO2 emissions,” Algenol said in a press release.
The Clean Power Plan also names a couple of other carbon capture and utilization technologies:
“Other companies – including Calera and New Sky – also offer commercially available technology for the beneficial use of captured CO2. These processes can be utilized in a variety of industrial applications – including at fossil fuel-fired power plants. However, consideration of how these emerging alternatives could be used to meet CO2 emission performance rates or state CO2 emission goals would require a better understanding of the ultimate fate of the captured CO2 and the degree to which the method permanently isolates the captured CO2 or displaces other CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.”
Calera uses captured CO2 to make calcium carbonate for cement. New Sky makes industrial chemicals such as soda ash, baking soda, and limestone.
View original article at: Clean Power Plan To Algae Companies: Prove It