Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coal Power Plants: Opportunities Exist for DOE to Provide Better Information on the Maturity of Key Technologies to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-10-675) dated July 2010 concludes that addressing climate change while retaining the use of coal to generate electricity will likely require the successful deployment of CCS and efficiency technologies in coal power plants. CCS, in particular, remains relatively immature compared to efficiency technologies, but offers the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants to a greater extent.

The current regulatory and legislative efforts to reduce CO2 emissions at coal power plants include consideration of the commercial availability of CCS. DOE plays a key role both in its efforts to advance CCS and efficiency technologies toward commercialization and in giving policymakers an accurate view of their maturity.

However, because the agency does not systematically assess their development, DOE is unable to provide a clear picture of the maturity of these technologies or the necessary resources that might be required to move these technologies toward commercial demonstration. This lack of information limits congressional oversight of the hundreds of millions of dollars DOE is currently spending annually on efforts to advance coal technologies, and it hampers policymakers’ efforts to gauge the maturity of these technologies as they consider climate change policies.

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