Carnegie Mellon To Unveil New Plan for Safer Development of Clean Energy Technologies

 

January 16, 2009

Carnegie Mellon University's M. Granger Morgan unveiled a novel "two-stage" approach for developing new energy technologies that can help society reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner economy during a policy briefing Jan. 9 in Washington, D.C.

Morgan is Professor and Head of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, and Professor of ECE and the Heinz College. He heads a team of investigators from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Minnesota, The Vermont Law School and the Washington, D.C.-based energy law firm Van Ness Feldman, who discussed creation of a new regulatory structure for the safe and economical capture, transport and deep geological sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the United States.

With a $1.85 million grant from the New York-based Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), Morgan and his colleagues in the "CCSReg Project" argue that if the U.S. is going to put large quantities of CO2 underground in a process called carbon sequestration, the process must be efficient, safe and effective.

"Part of our two-stage process involves creation of an independent Federal Carbon Sequestration Commission, with a chair appointed by new president-elect Obama and 15 expert members from a wide range of public and private stakeholders," said Morgan. This commission should carefully study experience with early sequestration projects and make recommendations for the proper form future regulations should take.

In addition to a commission, the 150-page report argues that legal questions about the right to inject CO2 into suitable rock formations more than half a mile deep below the surface, must be resolved -- perhaps through federal legislation. The report recommends developing regulations for the creation of a widespread commercial-scale carbon sequestration operation in the United States.

"This report is designed to get governments and scientists excited about cutting carbon emissions without disrupting energy supplies," Morgan said. Today, the U.S. makes roughly half its electricity from coal.

"If we are going to save coral reefs, many national parks and all the world's other vulnerable ecosystems, we have got to cut CO2 emissions by roughly 80 percent," Morgan said. He explains that there is no practical way to do that unless deep geological sequestration of CO2 is part of a portfolio of low carbon solutions that also includes improved efficiency in wind and new nuclear energy. Copies of the new report can be obtained online.

The grant to Carnegie Mellon is part of a $100 million Climate Change Initiative created by the DDCF to develop new energy technologies, which in turn will create new infrastructures and boost jobs in a sluggish global economy.

Source: Chriss Swaney, Carnegie Mellon News