ARKANSAS, Dec 30 (Future Headlines)- In a bold move to combat climate change, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is set to receive a $9 million grant from the Biden administration to explore carbon capture technology in a proposed coal power plant in the Susitna Valley in Southcentral Alaska. The initiative aims to capture carbon emissions at the source and store them underground, contributing to global efforts to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases. While the Biden administration frames this as a crucial step in addressing climate change, critics argue that carbon capture storage (CCS) is expensive and may not significantly impact emissions. This article delves into the details of Alaska’s ambitious project, exploring science, politics, and controversies surrounding carbon capture.
Carbon capture and storage involve capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced during the combustion of fossil fuels and storing them underground to prevent their release into the atmosphere. The process aims to reduce the concentration of CO2, a major contributor to global warming. In the case of the proposed coal power plant in Alaska, the plan is to capture CO2 emissions and transport them via a pipeline to an underground storage site at the Beluga River unit, an aging gas field on the shore of Cook Inlet.
Nat Herz, a reporter for the Northern Journal, explains that traditional power plants release carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere. However, with CCS, the emissions are captured at the source, such as a power plant, and then transported and stored underground. The success of such projects relies on the certification from regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the permanence of carbon storage.
The $9 million grant allocated by the Biden administration signifies a significant investment in Alaska’s exploration of carbon capture technology. The University of Alaska Fairbanks, at the forefront of this research, plans to investigate the feasibility of implementing CCS at the proposed coal power plant. The ultimate goal is to reduce carbon emissions, contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.
The concept of carbon capture storage has garnered attention at the state level in Alaska. Governor Dunleavy has proposed a comprehensive plan that includes a system for the state to engage in carbon capture and underground storage. The proposed legislation would allow companies to deposit carbon dioxide in the state’s geologic formations, with companies paying the state for the privilege. This approach aligns with the broader concept of carbon management, aiming to generate revenue from responsible carbon storage practices.
Despite the potential benefits of carbon capture storage, critics argue that the technology is expensive and may not yield a significant reduction in emissions. The high costs associated with implementing and operating carbon capture facilities pose challenges to their widespread adoption. Herz notes that, in the United States, there is currently only one operating power plant using this technology at a commercial scale. The operational challenges and economic considerations have led to skepticism about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of carbon capture initiatives.
To address the economic challenges of carbon capture storage, the federal government has committed substantial investments to subsidize the industry. The Biden administration’s $9 million grant to the University of Alaska Fairbanks is part of a broader initiative, with approximately $8 billion allocated in the federal infrastructure law for carbon capture technology. Additionally, the federal government has increased the tax credit for every ton of carbon stored underground to $85. These financial incentives aim to encourage the development and implementation of carbon capture projects.
The recent achievement of rolling out the first battery pack in Fremont, California, under Gotion High-Tech’s “Made in USA” initiative, is noteworthy. The company, specializing in battery R&D and energy solutions, received a $9 million federal grant to explore carbon capture technology in Alaska. Gotion’s GenDome energy storage system, designed specifically for the US market, marks a significant step in localized manufacturing and innovation.
While the federal government and some state governments are investing heavily in carbon capture initiatives, questions persist about the effectiveness of the technology. Climate activists argue that carbon capture and storage may be a distraction and question its real-world viability. Activists emphasize the need for proven, impactful solutions such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing consumption, and adopting electric vehicles.
Reporting by Emad Martin