Tesla CEO Musk offering $100M for best carbon capture technology

By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN+ content director

Mega billionaire and clean energy technology icon Elon Musk says he’s willing to give a small slice of his fortune to carbon capture technology.

Elon Musk

The Tesla founder and CEO tweeted he was willing to wager nine digits’ worth of incentives on the newest and best innovation to contain carbon dioxide emitted from factory flues, power plants and other industrial releases. Nearly all climate scientists agree that carbon emissions are a primary factor in the world heating up over the past century.

“Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” Musk tweeted.

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This is no small announcement, considering he has more than 42 million followers. Musk reportedly will give more details about the prize soon.

Many power generators are retiring coal-fired power plants, a key emitter of CO2, but carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects are a potential growing response which could allow some baseload coal-fired power to co-exist in a clean energy future. More than a dozen CCUS experimental efforts are going on worldwide.

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The U.S. has a couple of high-profile demonstrations currently under way. The National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Alabama, is a DOE project managed by Southern Co.

The coal-fired Petra Nova power plant in Texas also has a retrofit carbon capture project led by NRG Energy and JX Nippon with the U.S. DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory serving as manager.

Petra Nova’s CC effort was started in 2017, with a partnership including Kiewit, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Sargent & Lundy. The trio of engineering and construction firms also are working together on a planned Prairie State Generating Station CCUS project in Illinois.

The Energy Department is contributing a $15 million grant toward the Prairie State project.

The South African native Musk is considered the richest person in the world with a fortune estimated at more than $100 billion. He has played founding or significant roles in such startups as PayPal, SpaceX and electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the POWERGEN+ virtual series. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com).

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