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CEIC-09-06

"Public Preferences of Electricity Portfolios with CCS and Other Low-Carbon Technologies"
Lauren A. Fleishman; Wändi Bruine de Bruin; and M. Granger Morgan

 

Abstract:
For low-carbon electricity generating technologies to play a significant role in the reduction of atmospheric CO2 emissions, the public must accept their wide-spread deployment. This study asked members of the general public to rank ten technologies (e.g., wind, nuclear, coal with CCS, natural gas), and seven realistic low-carbon portfolios composed of these technologies. Participants received comprehensive and carefully balanced materials that systematically explained the costs and benefits of each. These materials were developed with input from domain experts to ensure correct information, and pilot-tested with members of the general public to ensure understanding. After ranking the technologies and the portfolios, participants also rated their overall opinion of CCS.
Participants’ rankings of technologies suggest that they most favored energy efficiency, followed by nuclear, integrated gasification combined-cycle coal (IGCC) with CCS and wind. The most preferred portfolio included a mix of these four technologies. IGCC with CCS was preferred to pulverized coal with CCS, whether presented as a technology or within a portfolio. Coal technologies with CCS were preferred over those without CCS. Participants’ rankings suggest acceptance of CCS, when presented in comparison to other technologies and within a low-carbon portfolio. However, when participants considered the technology in isolation, their ratings showed only slightly favorable opinions of CCS. This finding suggests a reluctant acceptance of CCS, given the alternatives. We conclude that the general public may be willing to reluctantly accept CCS, nuclear and other low-carbon technologies, once they fully understand the benefits, cost and limitations of the alternatives.

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