A first-of-its-kind study has quantified the health impact of the reduction of other air pollutants removed alongside carbon dioxide (CO2) in a certain type of carbon capture system, according to Minnesota-based Great Plains Institute (GPI).
The study, dubbed Carbon Capture Co-benefits: Carbon Capture’s Role in Removing Pollutants and Reducing Health Impacts, was commissioned by GPI and conducted by carbon capture and storage (CCS) consultancy Carbon Solutions LLC.
It included 54 representative facilities in seven industries (coal power plants, natural gas power plants, iron and steel, ethanol, cement, ammonia and fertilizer, and refineries) across 10 regions in the United States, where amine-based carbon capture systems were installed.
With this technology, prior to capturing CO2 other co-pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx), need to also be removed.
According to Carbon Solutions, reducing the emissions of these co-pollutants are directly related to health benefits amounting to as much as $199 million per facility, as quantified using the CO–Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) screening model of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The study shows that installing carbon capture technologies at industrial and power facilities has the potential to result in annual health benefits worth billions of U.S. dollars nationwide, GPI said.
At the regional level, the study identified monetary health co-benefits — including reductions in adult and infant mortality, and asthma exacerbations, as well as overall costs of lowering risks of all health categories — associated with carbon capture at the representative facilities ranging from $7 million to nearly $500 million a year.
GPI further said that the study modeled up to $1.8 billion in annual U.S. health benefits based on the analysis conducted for the 54 selected facilities.
“Most Americans are not aware of the potential co-benefits of carbon capture technologies, and this report quantifies these benefits in a relatable way—in terms of positive health impacts and cost benefits,” Matt Fry, Carbon Management Senior Policy Manager at GPI, said, adding that these co-benefits should be a part of the conversation as communities and stakeholders evaluate energy projects and technologies.
The full report is available here.