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  • Gabe Kwok

Carbon Management in Net-Zero Energy Systems

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

The EER team has released a white paper to advance understanding of carbon management's role in energy and industry to facilitate the U.S. achieving net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century.

The analysis underpinning the white paper features state-of-art modeling of a net-zero U.S. energy system and incorporates a wide range of potential uncertainties. A suite of carbon capture technologies and CO2 applications were modeled, including retrofits of existing energy infrastructure, negative emissions technologies (NETs), CO2 storage in geologic formations and CO2 utilization for synthetic fuels.

Key findings from our analysis include:

  • Significant carbon capture deployment (400 to 1,100 MtCO2/yr) is necessary by 2050 even assuming success across all other mitigation strategies (highly aggressive energy efficiency, electrification, electricity decarbonization, enhancement of the land sink and mitigation of non-CO2 emission). If the current land sink shrinks and/or non-CO2 emissions prove more difficult to abate, the importance of carbon management in energy and industry is further increased.

  • Captured CO2 is overwhelmingly supplied by NETs, including bioenergy with carbon capture, utilization, and storage (BECCUS) for fuel production and direct air capture (DAC). The importance of NETs corroborates the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Negative Shot.

  • Carbon is managed differently across the U.S. due to differences in biomass, renewables and geologic sequestration potential. Nearly all captured CO2 is stored or utilized within several hundred miles of the point of capture and not typically transported long distances across the U.S. The option to utilize CO2 intra-regionally for synthetic electric fuel is generally lower cost than transporting CO2 long distances.

  • Since most technologies are in the demonstration or prototype stage, significant research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) is necessary to ensure the technologies most compatible with a least-cost net-zero energy system are deployed in a timely manner. Failing to pursue the innovation needed for carbon management technologies to be technologically ready creates significant trade-offs and challenges for achieving net-zero.

The paper, "Carbon Management in Net-Zero Energy Systems", provides a description of the analytical framework and detailed findings, and is available for download below.

Download the White Paper.

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