Study: Advanced Technologies Can Help Electric Utilities Reduce Costs of CO2 Emission Controls

Aggressive development and implementation of a full portfolio of advanced electricity technologies could reduce the economic cost of cutting future U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 50 percent while meeting the continuing growth in demand for electricity, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced on Aug. 13.

"EPRI's analysis clearly shows that if we can deploy a 'full technology portfolio,' we can provide lower-carbon electricity throughout the economy while simultaneously meeting additional demand for electricity due to population growth and economic expansion," said Steve Specker, EPRI president and chief executive officer.

Previous EPRI work has shown that absent investments in advanced technologies, significant reductions in future emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will result in higher prices for electricity and natural gas, and reduced economic growth.

However, by developing and deploying advanced electricity technologies, such as a "smart" electricity grid, plug-in hybrid vehicles, new advanced nuclear reactors, and clean coal technologies with carbon capture and storage, a new EPRI study shows that the same cuts in future U.S. CO2 emissions could be accomplished at much lower cost -- saving as much as $1 trillion in future U.S. economic growth under some scenarios analyzed.

The study builds upon prior work in which EPRI estimated the technical feasibility of achieving large-scale CO2 emissions reduction using advanced electricity technologies, and includes new work that identifies the research, development and deployment pathways necessary for these technologies to reach their full potential.

EPRI released its latest analysis following its annual summer seminar, which brings together leaders of the electric power industry, academia, regulators and advocacy groups to address critical industry issues. EPRI will use the study to inform the work of the electricity industry, government and other interested parties in preparing a long-term action plan for research, development and demonstration projects related to these technologies.

The study, "The Power to Reduce CO2 Emissions -- The Full Portfolio," is available in PDF format at http://epri-reports.org/DiscussionPaper2007.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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