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Investing In Carbon Capture

Factory smokestacks.
Factory smokestacks.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions and storing them away from the atmosphere is an important means of mitigating environmental damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from sources, such as large power plants, and storing those emissions away from the atmosphere is an important means of mitigating environmental damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels. This month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that three projects have been selected to receive up to $612 million in federal government money – matched by $368 million in private funding – to demonstrate large-scale carbon capture and storage from industrial sources.

The projects – located in Texas, Illinois, and Louisiana – were initially selected in October 2009 for phase one research and development grants. Following successful completion of the first phase, these three projects were identified as the most promising industrial carbon capture and storage projects through a competitive process and will now enter into the second phase with additional funding to begin design, construction, and operation.

The projects selected are aimed at testing large-scale industrial carbon capture and storage, an important step in moving this technology towards eventual commercial deployment. President Barack Obama has made it a goal of his administration to bring about the development of cost-effective carbon capture and storage within ten years, with an objective of bringing five to ten commercial demonstration projects into being by 2016.

"Capturing carbon emissions and storing them underground is a crucial technology as we build a clean energy future and address the threat of climate change," said Secretary Chu. "These investments will create jobs and help ensure that America can lead the world in the clean energy economy."

The projects announced this month include large-scale projects that capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources and store the carbon dioxide in either a deep saline formation or via enhanced oil recovery (where carbon dioxide is pumped into oil pipelines to facilitate the recovery of more oil).

The projects are expected to capture and store 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of removing nearly one million automobiles from road – and increase domestic production of oil by more than 10 million barrels per year by the end of the demonstration period in September 2015.

Carbon capture and storage is one of a number of strategies to achieve clean, safe, sustainable, and affordable energy for the U.S. and the world. The United States is committed to achieving this goal.