• Substantial new tax credit scheme for CCS in the US could spur development

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

In highly significant news for the future of carbon capture and storage, US President Donald Trump has signed a bill that will give tax credits to carbon dioxide producing industries per tonne of the gas captured and stored. The credits will apply to any facility that commences construction before 2024, and will last for 12 years of operation. Facilities that capture CO2 for reuse (for example for enhanced oil recovery) will receive a US$30/(metric) tonne (€24.27) tax credit, while those simply storing the gas geologically will receive US$50/(metric) tonne (€40.47). These ‘prices’ are significantly higher than the current carbon price per tonne under the European Emissions Trading System, which is around €9.50, and at first glance should provide a tempting incentive for installing CCS systems in the US. To give an idea, a 750 MW (electrical output) coal-fired plant producing 0.94 kg CO2/kWh, operating at full capacity for 60% of the time over 12 years (and not operating at all otherwise), and with 90% capture efficiency, could claim US$1.2 billion (€969 million) in tax credits if reusing the CO2, and US$2.0 billion (€1.62 billion) if simply storing the gas. As a comparison, the CCS component of the Boundary Dam Unit 3 coal-fired plant, which is just 160 MW, cost around US$900 million, though SaskPower estimates it could do it 20-30% cheaper if it built a new facility. The bill is especially interesting in that it will apply not only to conventional power generation plants, but other CO2 intensive industries such as steelmaking and cement making, too. Moreover, the credit scheme seems likely to maintain broad political support, as it appeals in some way both to Republican and Democratic voter bases, reflected by the bipartisan support the bill received. Overall, the new law has the potential to radically transform CCS in the US, and that would be sure to have knock-on effects across the world.