- Working Paper
Projections of the pathways that reduce carbon emission to the levels consistent with limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels often require negative emission technologies like bioelectricity with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). We review the global energy production potential and the ranges of costs for the BECCS technology. We then represent a version of the technology in the MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to see how it competes with other low carbon options under stabilization scenarios. We find that, with a global price on carbon designed to achieve climate stabilization goals, the technology could make a substantial contribution to energy supply and emissions reduction in the second half of the 21st century. The main uncertainties weighing on bioelectricity with carbon capture and storage are biomass availability at large scale, the pace of improvements in carbon capture technologies, the availability and cost of CO2 storage, and social acceptance. Commercial viability would appear to depend strongly on a policy environment, such as carbon pricing, that would advantage it, given the technology costs we assume. Compared to previous studies, we provide a consistent approach to evaluate all of the components of the technology, from growing biomass to CO2 storage assessment. Our results show that global economic costs and needed carbon prices to hit the stabilization target are substantially lower with the technology available at reasonable costs.