Something was missing from the EPA’s proposal to regulate how much carbon dioxide can be emitted from new power plants: algae and other technologies that can absorb tons of CO2 as they grow. Reusing carbon dioxide emissions to grow algae that can then be turned into fuels, fertilizers, biochemicals or other products would associate a revenue stream with emissions reduction, rather than the costs associated with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), EPA’s preferred method in the new rules.
It is true that CCS has the potential to prevent a lot of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, but experts also predict it could as $60 dollars per ton of CO2 to capture the gas and bury it underground. This form of waste disposal is one way to reduce emissions, but options to reuse or recycle the gases also deserve to be included.
The EPA’s draft rule briefly mentions using CO2 emissions in manufacturing and production, but not nearly with the same level of detail as CCS. This is why ABO released a statement encouraging the EPA to include carbon capture and reuse (CCR) as an approved strategy for compliance under its New Source Performance Standard.
“It’s time to turn the lemon of carbon emissions into lemonade,” said Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “By transforming what is currently viewed as waste product into a new revenue stream, we can achieve a rare trifecta – overall emissions reductions, a return on investment, and job growth that comes with a new domestic industry for renewable commodities.”
In addition to the statement, Mary also chimed in on a recent discussion at the National Journal’s Energy Experts blog on the subject.
The EPA is accepting comments on the rules for 60 days (as of September 2o), and ABO is encouraging anybody that would like to see algae play a role in emissions reductions strategies to submit their own comments. ABO will be doing the same, but the more we let the EPA know these technologies are available, and that they can introduce a new incentive to reduce CO2 emissions, the better.