Paper - Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

Expert Elicitation of Cost, Performance, and RD&D Budgets for Coal Power with CCS

| September 28, 2010


There is uncertainty about the ex-ante returns to research, development, and demonstration programs in the United States on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. To quantify this uncertainty, we conducted a written expert elicitation of thirteen experts in fossil power and CCS technologies from the government, academia, and the private sector. We asked experts to provide their recommended budget and allocation of RD&D funds by specific fossil power and CCS technology and type of RD&D activity (i.e. basic research, applied research, pilot plants, and demonstration plants) for the United States. The elicitation instrument was structured around estimating the cost and performance of coal-fired power plants with and without CCS in the years 2010 and 2030 under four funding scenarios for federal fossil energy RD&D in the USA. The most important areas identified for basic research were chemical looping combustion and membrane technology. The most important area for commercial demonstration was integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). There was substantial disagreement between experts on both the current and future capital cost to build a new coal-fired power plant with CCS. There was also disagreement across experts as to whether the capital cost of a new coal plant with CCS would increase or decrease if federal RD&D funding stayed constant at current levels. However, there was a consensus among our experts that accelerated federal RD&D would (weakly) lower the capital cost requirements for a new coal plant with CCS. On average, experts estimated that if their recommended RD&D portfolio was implemented, the capital cost of new coal plants with CCS in 2030 would decrease by 10% in addition to the cost reductions/increases that would occur by 2030 through non-public RD&D related factors.

This is a pre-print version of an article that appears in Energy Procedia, Volume 4, 2011, pp: 2685–2692.



The authors are grateful to the Climate Change Initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for supporting the work of the Energy Research, Development, Demonstration, & Deployment (ERD3) Policy project of the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group at the Harvard Kennedy School. The authors would also like to thank Mohammed Al-Juaied and Howard Herzog for feedback on the expert elicitation instrument, Asma Hamdane for background research, and Matthew Bunn for helpful comments on interpreting results. All errors are responsibility of the authors.

Figures 1 and 2 in the pre-print paper include estimates from all of the experts, even though two of the experts did not provide estimates for all five of the scenarios are included in the Monte Carlo analysis. The attached addendum (second attachment) discusses the results from the Monte Carlo simulation including data only from the experts that provided estimates for all five of the scenarios.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Energy Technology Innovation Policy
For Academic Citation: Chan, Gabriel, Laura D. Anadon, Melissa Chan, and Audrey Lee. “Expert Elicitation of Cost, Performance, and RD&D Budgets for Coal Power with CCS.” Paper, Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center, September 28, 2010.

The Authors