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Postcombustion Capture or Direct Air Capture in Decarbonizing US Natural Gas Power?

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-04-09, 16:05 authored by Habib Azarabadi, Klaus S. Lackner
This analysis investigates the cost of carbon capture from the US natural gas-fired electricity generating fleet comparing two technologies: postcombustion capture and direct air capture (DAC). Many of the existing natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units are suitable for postcombustion capture. We estimated the cost of postcombustion retrofits and investigated the most important unit characteristics contributing to this cost. Units larger than 400 MW, younger than 14 years, more efficient than 45%, and with a utilization (capacity factor) higher than 0.5 were found to be the most promising for retrofit. Counterintuitively, DAC (which is usually not considered for point-source capture) may be cheaper in addressing emissions from nonretrofittable NGCC units. DAC can also address the residual emissions from retrofitted units. Moreover, the economic challenges of postcombustion capture for small natural gas-fired units with low utilization, such as gas turbines, make DAC look favorable for these units. After considering the cost of postcombustion capture for the entire natural gas-related emissions and incorporating the impact of learning-by-doing for both carbon capture technologies, our results show that DAC is the cheaper capture solution for at least 1/3 of all emissions.

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