The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) today encouraged the EPA to include carbon capture and reuse (CCR) as an approved strategy for compliance under its New Source Performance Standard, a draft version of which was released today. The EPA’s draft, which places a heavy emphasis on geologic carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as a viable method for power plants to reduce their emissions, comes just as commercial technologies developed by the algae industry are making it possible to use those same emissions for the manufacture of valuable, low-carbon products that can make emissions reduction a revenue generator rather than a waste disposal cost.
“It’s time to turn the lemon of carbon emissions into lemonade,” said Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “By transforming what is currently viewed as waste product into a new revenue stream, we can achieve a rare trifecta – overall emissions reductions, a return on investment, and job growth that comes with a new domestic industry for renewable commodities.”
Experts predict CCS methods could cost power plants as much at $60 per tonne of CO2 to bury the emissions. Conversely, when algae companies use CO2 emissions as an input, those emissions are no longer waste – they have a value. As such, algae reuse technologies offer a return on investment that will enable coal plants to meet emissions reductions targets and create a revenue stream in the process.
Encouraging the reuse of CO2 emissions rather than their disposal underground is entirely consistent with previously established policies regarding waste management. In both the Waste Management Hierarchy and the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, “pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner, whenever feasible” and “and disposal or other release into the environment should be employed only as a last resort and should be conducted in an environmentally safe manner.” Reusing, or recycling carbon dioxide into marketable commodities meets this definition.
Algae’s carbon reduction potential has already been demonstrated by research and in real-world production. A recent life cycle analysis (LCA) published in Bioresource Technology showed algae-derived gasoline reduced greenhouse gas emissions 68 percent over petroleum. The same analysis showed the energy returns of algae-derived biofuels are approaching those of petroleum. A previous LCA of biodiesel made from algae showed a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.
About the Algae Biomass Organization
The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) is a 501 c(6) non-profit whose mission is to promote the development of viable commercial markets for renewable and sustainable commodities derived from algae. Its membership is comprised of people, companies and organizations across the value chain.
Source: Algae Biomass Organization, press release, 2013-09-20.