Could Obama’s new regulations breathe life into carbon capture tech?

The New York Times has reported that on Friday the Obama Administration will announce that it is pressing ahead with stricter emissions limits on coal and natural gas power plants. Who are the winners and the losers?

Well the coal industry and coal rich states won’t be happy and Republicans are calling the moves Obama’s “war on coal.” 40 percent of carbon emissions come from power plants and most of that is from coal power plants.

The winners? Sadly, natural gas will win big since it’ll become the most reasonable, affordable and quick solution to moving away from coal. The limits on carbon emissions from coal plants are going to make it expensive to produce coal based power. The only way to meet the requirements is to sequester the carbon emissions coming from the plant. That’s expensive technology, one that the coal industry has very little know how in.

So one potential strange winner from this is all the cleantech VCs and startups that have developed carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is already arguing that she doesn’t views CCS as an add on technology for existing coal plants, but rather as potentially applicable to new power plants. But I think the real surprise is just that anyone is talking about CSS tech.

Relevant Analyst

Adam Lesser

Analyst Gigaom Research

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