HKS Authors

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Teresa and John Heinz Research Professor of Environmental Policy


The Biden administration has set a goal of reaching net zero economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS)—a suite of current and emerging technologies that remove carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from energy or industrial processes and then either sequester the carbon underground or use it for production of a variety of fuels or products—is very likely to be a key technology on most of the plausible paths for reaching this goal. Among various applications of the technology, CCUS in combination with natural gas powerplants can be used to provide firm baseload electricity or could serve as backup for intermittent renewable power in place of multi-day electricity storage. Additionally, CCUS could be used to decarbonize hard-to-electrify industrial processes and to provide synthetic fuels for decarbonizing nonelectric energy uses. The key barrier to CCUS filling these various roles and living up to its technical potential is high costs relative to current incentives: despite current U.S. government support through tax policy, CCUS is not economically competitive today in most of its applications. Unless and until it becomes so or is required by law, it will not achieve widespread deployment.


Moch, Jonathan M., William Xue, and John P. Holdren. "Carbon capture, utilization, and storage: Technologies and costs in the U.S. context." Environment and Natural Resources Program Brief Series, January 2022.