A report released in December 2010 by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) says it may take 20 more years for carbon capture and storage to become commercially available.

The report states that the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity generation plays an integral role in the energy security and global economic competitiveness of the United States. According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates, fossil fuels accounted for approximately 71 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2008. However, fossil fuel combustion results in the emission of large quantities of CO2 such that the U.S. power generation sector produced more than 40 percent of total U.S. anthropogenic CO2 emissions in 2008.

One technology being studied to decrease the amount of CO2 released from these power plants is carbon capture and storage (CCS). The report states that CCS encompasses the entire life-cycle process for controlling CO2 emissions from large-scale point sources such as coal-based power plants. By cost-effectively capturing CO2 before it is emitted to the atmosphere and then permanently storing it, coal can continue to be used without restricting economic growth while still reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere. CCS includes four primary steps: CO2 capture, compression, transport, and storage.

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