45Q: Unlocking a positive feedback loop we actually want

     In response to an article from Greentech Media (Can Updated Tax Credits Bring Carbon Capture Into the Mainstream?)

     More great analysis of the 45Q tax credits. It’s hard to overstate how important this tax credit is for the CCUS community. We’ve been stuck in what Jesse Jenkins of MIT describes as a negative feedback loop - where “high cost barriers to entry prevented companies from pushing forward on innovation, which in turn prevented the technology from getting cheaper.” 

     This is spot on. Innovation and the wider adoption of a technology makes it cheaper. Think about the first computer; it was the size of a large room, only performed the most basic tasks, and was incredibly expensive (only governments and large companies could afford them). Now, we have computers in our back pockets that are millions of times faster than the total computing power of NASA in the 1960s. Your smartphone is even more powerful than IBM’s 1997 supercomputer, Deep Blue, that beat Garry Kasparov at chess. This pace of innovation was driven by investment in research and development - which led to a decrease in price - which led to the technology becoming more accessible and used - which led to more research - which led to a further drop in price…and so on. 

     Many carbon capture technologies are at the stage where computers were 40 years ago. Now that investing in carbon capture won’t be as risky for companies, these technologies can begin to take off. We must do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t take 30-40 years though!

     Remember, investment and research -> drop in price -> wider use of a technology -> more research and development into that technology -> further drop in price -> even wider use of the technology. A positive feedback loop we actually want!*

     *As opposed to the positive feedback loop where climate change causes the tundra to thaw, which releases more methane and CO2, which speeds up climate change, which causes more methane and CO2 to be released.....and so on.