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2007-08 Seminars


Public Perceptions of Carbon Capture and Sequestration and Other Low-Carbon Electricity Technologies

Lauren Fleishman
PhD Student
EPP, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract
My research focuses on public perception and communication of technologies for carbon capture and geological sequestration (CCS). Previous studies have shown that the public is reluctant to accept CCS and that they want to consider CCS in comparison with other technologies that might achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions (Palmgren et al., ES&T, 2004).
I will present a set of communication materials developed to gain a clearer understanding of how the public views the risks and benefits of CCS as compared with other low-carbon technologies, when given a full understanding of the costs and benefits of each. The communication materials use an experimental test bed in which lay participants are presented with a hypothetical situation in which they advise the Pennsylvania Governor's Office on how best to reduce electric industry carbon emissions by 50%. Participants are given a choice between different, realistic carbon-reducing electric utility portfolios, which have different combinations of electric power generation technologies (e.g. natural gas, wind power, nuclear, coal with CCS, etc.). For each portfolio and technology, detailed information is provided, including cost and environmental indicators. Results from an initial pretesting of the materials will also be discussed.