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CCS has the potential to significantly reduce global carbon emissions.

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A discussion of the issues and policies related to carbon capture and storage technology.*

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*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the position(s) of the ENGO Network on CCS. 


The road is open for full-scale carbon capture and storage in Norway


This is a cross-post published by ZERO July5. The author is Camilla Svendsen-Skriung with ZERO.

Early July Gassnova and Gassco published the conclusions of their study of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) from three Norwegian industry sources, and the conclusions are very encouraging. To clean these emissions is not only possible - it is also much cheaper than previous Norwegian CCS projects.

Three industrial projects have been evaluated, and ZERO are very pleased that all of the three current capture projects are recommended to be further developed in a front end engineering design phase (FEED), with the goal of investment decision and construction. Together, these three projects cut emissions of 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year, as much as a million cars.

All of these projects have great potential, not only to reduce Norwegian emissions, but also to develop technological solutions and gain practical experience from various industry sources who have never been capturing CO2 in a large scale. This type of industry has most often no other options for mitigating their CO2 emissions, than just CCS. ZERO thinks it is good that Gassnova increases the importance of choosing several capture projects, to ensure a flexible and less vulnerable solution.

For the entire chain from capture by industry sources in eastern Norway, transporting CO2 by ship to the storage site in the North Sea and to final storage, the study estimates the cost to be 7.2 billion for one of the projects, and 12.6 million to clean and store emissions from all three. In comparison, capture alone, without transport and storage, was estimated to cost around 25 billion at Mongstad.

- This shows that the cost figures that Statoil and other companies have operated with earlier, and which have been the premise for the Norwegian CCS debate, are greatly exaggerated. Once the infrastructure is in place, and the capture technology is further matured through use, CCS will be a cost-effective way of preventing CO2 emissions.

Important political fall for CCS
Although the feasibility study finally puts forward a concrete plan for large-scale CCS in Norway, nothing remains unchanged until the financing is in place. It now becomes very important that sufficient budgetary decisions must be made already this fall. Now the bar is set high for what the government must submit to the state budget.

- We are of course initially disappointed that CCS is not scheduled until 2022 instead of in 2020 as a united parliament agreed on, but it is now important to focus on the realisation of Norwegian CCS, and to push for faster deployment.

- It is worrying that the outcome is so dependent on political process, and that the investment decision now is pushed until 2019. Not the least does the possibility for changes in parliamentary composition and change of government in the meantime, concern the industrial companies. This make the future of CCS uncertain for them.

- If we do not in place the right decisions this fall, we will hold up this process again, and once more, designers must wait for the politicians. We believe the government must set aside money for the project already in the autumn's budget. In addition, one must now put in place measures for profitable CCS.

There are also no signals from the minister of Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien whether all three projects should be farther in the process, or if there is only one project which goes to investment decisions and development. The report from Gassnova and Gassco recommends that all three are farther in all the conceptual and preliminary engineering phases.

- We hope that the Minister as soon as possible provides a clarification that all projects are further developed, at least until this phase is completed in 2019. This is not the least important for the industry participants themselves.

Good that storage is included
ZERO is very pleased that Smeheia is chosen as storage reservoir, and that the Statoil group now will develop this project ptentially to store CO2 from both Norwegian and European sources. Gassco's assessment of marine transport to onshore facilities and further pipeline, are build on these plans, and thus we have a concrete plan for the entire chain of CCS - on paper.

- The challenge now is the realization of this. No one, neither the environmental movement or others stakeholders may be satisfied until the day CO2 from these major sources actually are stored in Smeheia. The different parts of the chain: capturing, transportation and storage of CO2, must now be developed in parallel. The same must the work to establish effective economic measures.

U.S.- China Clean Energy Research Center Works on Carbon Capture and Storage


This is a cross-post published by World Resources Institute on March 28. The authors are Xiaoliang Yang, CCS Team Lead and Katie Lebling, intern, both from World Resources Institute.

The landmark Paris Agreement on climate change means it’s even more essential to spur the development of low-carbon technology, including technology to capture and store climate-warming carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere. International cooperation is an important way to help make this happen. One strong step in this direction is Mission Innovation, which brings 20 countries together to double spending on clean energy R&D over the next five years.

As the two biggest greenhouse-gas-emitting nations, the United States and China are already working together through the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which they established in 2009. With participation from universities and the public and private sectors, CERC promotes U.S.-China research on building efficiency, clean energy vehicles, advanced coal technology, the water-energy nexus, and efficiency in heavy- and medium-duty trucks.

As CERC begins its second five-year phase this year, it’s useful to see how the first phase went. A new WRI working paper summarizes results of a survey of project leaders and core researchers to examine the experience of the Advanced Coal Technology Consortium, one of five consortia that make up CERC, and offers recommendations for the next five years.  

New Procedures, Improved Products

The coal technology consortium aims to advance technology for carbon capture, utilization, and storage, and other advanced coal utilization. Within Phase I of CERC, researchers from the two countries produced joint articles and conference papers, new or improved research procedures, patents, and new or improved market products. Some specific accomplishments include:

  • Joint research on post-combustion carbon capture processes at Huaneng’s Shidongkou plant in Shanghai and at Duke Energy’s Gibson Generating Station in Indiana;
  • Knowledge sharing on Huazhong University of Science and Technology and B&W’s oxy-fuel combustion test platform;
  • Collaboration among Shenhua Group, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, West Virginia University, and the University of Wyoming to identify suitable carbon dioxide storage sites in the Ordos Basin in China and Rock Springs Uplift in Wyoming;
  • A carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery project in China between Yanchang Petroleum and the University of Wyoming;
  • Data sharing on carbon dioxide utilization with microalgae among the University of Kentucky, Duke Energy, and China’s ENN Energy Group.

These joint achievements have driven technology learning on CCS in the United States and China, which is urgently needed at this point to accelerate CCS development. For example, joint research on post-combustion capture processes by Huaneng, Duke, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggested a capture cost of $61-68 per metric ton of carbon dioxide if Huaneng’s capture system is installed at Duke’s Gibson plant in Indiana. This type of information adds certainty to carbon capture costs, creating more stability for policymakers and businesses.

Sharing of information in this kind of partnership is key, and the coal technology consortium’s success was mixed in this area: it was stronger on published articles, methodologies, and standards, but inconsistent for more sensitive market and engineering information. Importantly, nearly 90 percent of project leaders reported that the coal technology consortium strengthened R&D capacity and helped in establishing research partners and finding research funding.

CERC also plays a notable role in the larger U.S.-China relationship, particularly on climate change. With tension rising on cybersecurity, the South China Sea, and other issues, cooperation on climate action is a place where the two countries can anchor their relationship. As a headline initiative within U.S.-China climate cooperation, CERC’s diplomatic significance is as valuable as its support to research and development.

Lessons Learned

WRI’s examination of CERC’s coal consortium provides some valuable lessons for its own trajectory as well as for other countries looking to set up similar joint energy R&D initiatives. Our survey of project leaders and researchers identified a few ways to foster more effective collaboration:

1. Early Private Sector Involvement: There was some mismatch in research interests among participating institutions at the outset, which reduced opportunities for strong partnerships and created hesitancy among some about sharing information. Including the private sector in initial research set-up discussions and better outlining the benefits of participation in outreach events could foster cooperation from the start.

2. More Frequent Contact: Maintaining consistent and effective communication proved challenging with differences in location, time zone, and culture. Improved communication at the consortium and project levels through more frequent virtual and in-person exchanges and assignment of points of contact at the project level would help. 

3. Focus on Demonstration Projects: A lack of sufficient private sector partners resulted in a focus on lab-stage R&D. We recommend working toward a stronger focus on demonstration projects; additionally we suggest a more flexible and open platform for the coal technology consortium to attract more private sector resources. Private sector participation is an essential component to achieving large-scale commercial deployment of CCS technologies.

One key to continued success will be a clearer definition of each participant’s role within the consortium among government entities, public research institutes, and private companies. Building a stronger partnership will be critical not only to advance technologies that mitigate the impact of climate change, but to demonstrate leadership in multilateral cooperation. To learn more, download the full working paper, U.S.-China Clean Energy Collaboration: Lessons from the Advanced Coal Technology Consortium.



Less than zero


This is a cross-post published by ZERO Jan. 15, 2016. The author is Camilla Svendsen Skriung with ZERO.

The goal of steering towards an increase in global temperature less than 2 degrees, preferably 1,5, by 2030 will be challenging to reach. Even harder without combing bio-energy with CCS, and this way mitigate the CO2 emissions to “less than zero”. Of all the potential suggestions in the “net zero” category, this is seen as the most realistic at present. This does not mean that we now have the answer with two underscores. Net zero thinking and the development of bio-CSS raises important questions, and poses some challenges.

Running up to, and during the climate meeting (the COP21) in Paris late last year, the term “net zero emissions” became a hot topic.  With some variations in words, like “removing CO2 from the atmosphere” and “negative emissions” – this all stems from the notion that one can, and must, not only cut emissions of carbon dioxide, but also make sure that an increased uptake of CO2 takes place.

Requires awareness
The increased focus on “net zero” has many possible traps, which it is important to be aware of and deal with.  It can be a distraction from more potent, developed and used solutions. It is also a great risk of being an excuse for postponing other measures. The proposal implies
Robert J. Finley at the injection start up.

that global emissions can equal the amount we somehow manage to cuk out of the atmosphere. And this way, the urgency may seem less.
Also, there are many, creative suggestions on how to achieve the goal of negative emissions, some of them seemingly unrealistic. But most likely it will be a question of measures like protecting forests, planting forests, or creating bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, so called Bio-CCS or Bio-Energy with CCS (BECCS). All of these are measures that have been used globally, at various scales.

Careful use of biomass
When combined with the use of biomass at large point sources, CCS has a large potential for delivering net negative CO? emissions. As biomass grows, it absorbs and binds atmospheric CO?. When the CO? from biomass combustion or conversion is captured and permanently stored, the value-chain becomes carbon negative, which means that more CO? is taken out of the atmosphere than is released into it. Thus, a service that would have otherwise likely relied on a fossil fuel is obtained with the net result of atmospheric carbon being injected underground.

Bio-CCS is only a climate change mitigation measure when biomass can be acquired without causing permanent deforestation or otherwise causes land-use changes that reduce the biological storage of carbon. Biomass is currently a limited resource, which also limits potential for bio-ccs. However, alternative biomass sources, like algae, may increase the available biomass in the future.

Strict rules
The prospect of atmospheric removal of CO? through BECCS does not mean that we can afford to delay other mitigation efforts. In addition, achieving substantial carbon negative emissions through BECCS requires increasing the sustainable supply of biomass substantially. This clearly requires new pathways to biomass supply, along with strict accounting and enforcement to ensure the sustainability and beneficial carbon balance of the source and supply chain.1 It remains to be seen whether, in practice, large biomass-based energy systems can be managed sustainably.

A technology in use
BECCS is neither nothing new, nor not tested and deployed. BECCS applications are already operational and have shown that simple and relatively cheap carbon negative solutions can be put into place today. Further, several solutions exist to make bio-CCS more viable. One solution is to build a pipeline infrastructure where small amounts of CO2 captured from several sites are combined to generate a CO2 stream with enough volume to be viable for storage. One example of this is the pipeline system Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) in Canada. This line has a fertilizer producer connected to the system,and a cummulative capacity of 2 billion tonnes of CO2. ?Another solution is to co-fire biomass with fossil fuels. Co-firing of coal and biomass already takes place in a number of countries. Integration of energy plants based on biofuel with CO2 emitting industry like cement and steel producers is an interesting option for the future.

A third option is to capture from facilities using biomass in their production. One of the most successful CCS projects worldwide so far, the Archer Daniels Midland CCS project in Illinois, completed last year, is actually a “net zero” provider.

Successful “net zero project”
Since 2009, Archer Daniels Midland’s Agricultural Processing and Biofuels Plant located in Decatur, Illinois has been demonstrating an integrated system of CO? capture in an industrial setting and geologic sequestration in a deep sandstone formation.

The project capture CO2 directly using compression and dehydration. The facility has stored up to 1 million tonnes a year of CO2, created as a byproduct of biofuels production, which is transported 1.5 kilometres by pipeline for storage in onshore deep saline formations (Mount Simon Sandstone formation).

This is a highly successful project in every way. It has stored, mitigated, 3 MT CO2 over approximately 3 years. The project has held both budget and timing frames, and the storage site has proved to be very suitable and safe. This is illustrating the great potential of deploying BECCS to remove CO? from the atmosphere.

A great responsibility
As for all issues connected to CCS, it is justified to question the realism in fast and large deployment timelines. Also in scenarios where success is solely dependent on issues like net zero solutions, bio-energy and CCS. Having said that, BECCS can be one solution amongst many, as the ADM project shows. But only if the industry and authorities proves the skepticism wrong and move ahead, carefully avoiding traps described.??The most important tasks ahead is still increased use of renewables, energy effiency and mitigation of CO2 emissions in all sectors. This is the main path towards a zero carbon society.

1. Not all biomass is created equal, and some sources or practices are actually carbon positive. Achieving a net-negative carbon balance over the entire lifecycle can be achieved only if practices are screened and selected accordingly. This will require accounting and oversight. See for example: Think Wood Pellets Are Green? Think Again, Natural Resources Defense Council, Issue Brief 15-05-A, or Palm Oil and Global Warming, Union of Concerned Scientists,
2. See for example: What is carbon removal?  ??3. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.
Other sources: the report Closing the gap- Why CCS is a vital part of the solution, by the ENGO Network on CCS

CCS According to Top Environmental NGOs: A Vital Part of the Solution


This is a cross-post published by NRDC Dec. 8, 2015. The author is NRDC Scientist George Peridas.

Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) is a vital part of the climate mitigation portfolio, according to some of the world's most pre-eminent environmental NGOs. Members of the Environmental NGO Network on CCS (of which NRDC is a founding member) just issued a new report (press release here) that spells out clearly why and how CCS is ready for broad deployment that results in meaningful carbon pollution reductions from the industrial and power generation sector, and even in "negative emissions" when combined with sustainable biomass. However, for that to happen, governments need to step up to the plate as a matter of urgency and adopt policies and measures that will make the technology a widespread reality.

The report comes 10 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its own Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (SRCCS), and 3 years after our previous publication on the topic. In this most recent report, we look at the successes and failures of the past 10 years, the status of the technology, its applicability to different sectors, as well as the state of affairs in key countries and regions of the world.

First, we conclude that CCS is ready for broad deployment beyond doubt. Although not sufficient to make a dent in national emissions yet, the number of large-scale integrated projects that are either already operating or will begin soon puts to rest the question of "readiness". You can now travel to several parts of the world to see such projects.

Second, we outline how CCS has broad applicability beyond the traditional focus on coal-fired power. In fact, CCS offers one of the top strategies for reducing industrial sector emissions (from iron/steel, cement, chemicals production and more), and it can also virtually eliminate emissions from natural gas-fired power generation. What is more, CCS may have an equally important role to play in reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations: when used together with sustainable biomass, it can result in "negative emissions". These may well prove to be necessary if we are to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

Third, we summarize the successes of the past 10 years regulatory front, where considerable ground has been covered. The permitting and regulatory pathway for CCS projects in many countries is now clear, and progress on this front is indicative of what can be achieved when the will is there.

Fourth, we examine how government policies have fared and affected the fate of CCS. On this most important policy front, we have a mixed bag of notable but insufficient successes, huge lost opportunities, and some strikingly disappointing failures. Most of today's large-scale integrated projects owe their existence to government policies that enabled companies to get to plan, investors to lend, and engineers to do what they do best. Sadly, we do not yet have policy frameworks in place that will allow tens or hundreds of these projects to be built and operated. In some cases, we were on the verge of achieving this, but did not. Governments changed their minds, lawmakers lacked courage or vision, even promising assistance programs were scrapped after many years of project development and planning.

This, we conclude, is the single most pressing need today: for governments to take deep decarbonization seriously, realize the invaluable role that CCS has to play in many emitting sectors, and give it the attention it deserves and the enabling policies that have allowed other low-carbon technologies to flourish. This needs to take place at the national, international as well as regional and local levels.

Even though we continue to observe certain factions of industry wanting to perpetually present CCS as tomorrow's promising technology, there is no room for doubt that it is available to reduce carbon pollution dramatically today safely and effectively. Our organizations are not out to perpetuate the use of fossil fuels, but instead to plot out the fastest path to protecting our health and our climate. In doing so, we have come together to call for decisive action to ensure that the great potential that CCS technology holds becomes a reality fast. Governments need to take the next steps.

Carbon capture leadership in Canada


This is a cross-post from Pembina, published November 4, 2015. The authors are Pembina Program Director Duncan Kenyon and Consulting Advisor Binnu Jeyakumar.

Momentum is growing in Canada for effective action on climate change — and specifically for policies that recognize how reliance on fossil fuels is creating real risks for our economy and environment. Decarbonization creates opportunities to implement a portfolio of solutions that includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Pembina Institute recently published a backgrounder looking at this topic.

Quest Carbon Capture and Storage project in Fort Saskatchewan in September 2014. Photo: Pembina Institute.

CCS is one of a number of approaches that can help reduce carbon emissions on the scale required to combat dangerous climate change. Canada has taken action to foster the deployment of this technology with the completion of full-scale commercial CCS projects. We have also implemented policy and regulatory changes to support CCS, and created a strong research and technology development ecosystem. We have compiled a list of significant Canadian actions taken on CCS to date.

In early November, another step will be taken as the Quest CCS project officially begins operations at Shell Canada’s Scotford upgrader outside Edmonton. The project will reduce emissions by sequestering more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year deep underground in a saline aquifer.

With the Quest project, and other Alberta-based CCS projects and programs, there is an opportunity to create a carbon capture, utilization and storage hub — that is, a network of carbon pipelines plus capture and storage sites. Developing this hub would capitalize on federal and provincial investment in CCS knowledge, expertise and capacity, while also helping to manage the significant emissions from Alberta’s industrial sources.

The time is right for the federal and provincial governments to implement comprehensive climate policies that will drive economy-wide reductions in emissions. The work that has already been done on CCS in Canada can help inform where that technology fits into a full portfolio of climate mitigation solutions. Now is the time for a meaningful dialogue about what these solutions could be in Canada, and how they could achieve deep decarbonization of our society.

The role of carbon capture in deep decarbonization


This is a cross-post from Pembina, published October 26, 2015. The authors are Pembina Program Director Duncan Kenyon and Consulting Advisor Binnu Jeyakumar.

Technologies that capture greenhouse gases and either store or use them could play a significant and essential role in decarbonizing our world. But carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been a topic of debate over the last few years as governments, industry, environmental organizations and civil society navigate the considerations and implications of the technologies — something the Pembina Institute discussed in a recent backgrounder.

The role of CCS in decarbonization
Reducing carbon emissions at a global scale is undeniably a major challenge. To limit global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius of warming, emissions need to be cut by at least 40 per cent below 2010 levels by 2050, and to be near or below zero by 2a100.

 The challenge, as the International Energy Agency states, is that “the world must manage the legacy of its existing energy system, while harnessing established low-carbon energy sources and accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies that have yet to be adopted at scale.” Most of the pathways for reducing carbon emission, such as those modelled by IEA and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, include a variety of measures. These include efficiency improvements, increased renewable energy and reforestation, along with carbon capture for fossil fuels.

For carbon-intensive energy sources that already exist, or that are under construction, emissions are essentially “locked in” — the infrastructure has been built and will probably continue to be used. CCS is the only way that these extremely widespread fossil fuel assets can continue to be used to close to their full lifespan while taking action on emissions. It is also a critical measure for cutting emissions from sectors that do not have many alternatives in the medium term.

CCS is particularly relevant for four areas. First, it can be applied to coal-fired electricity generation in China and India, and also in the United States as their generation switches from coal to natural gas. Similarly, CCS has a role to play in emerging economies that have large fossil fuel reserves, and that are locking into economic and energy policies that virtually ensure the continued emission of CO2 well into the future.

There are also a number of industries with significant emissions profiles, but few alternative technologies at this time. These include oil and gas refining, as well as the production of fertilizers, steel, cement and petrochemicals. Doing what is possible to reduce their emissions is common sense.

And finally, bioenergy paired with CCS is one of the few climate solutions that can actually achieve negative net emissions and generate energy — it would actually remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. That clearly makes it worth exploring.

The scale of CCS deployment needed to decarbonize industries mentioned above is massive. When projecting pathways to a climate-safe future, the IEA predicts that we will need to capture 52 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from 2015 through 2040 in the electricity and industrial sectors. To put this number in perspective, the 13 large-scale CCS facilities that currently exist capture 28 million tonnes of carbon per year —less than one percent of what the IEA is calling for.

Key considerations
Before CCS can be widely deployed, several important issues need to be addressed. First, what level of carbon pricing is needed to incentivize CCS or carbon capture and utilization? This carbon price may vary depending on the industry that CCS is implemented in.

There are local environmental concerns to consider as. carbon emissions are not the only problem with fossil fuels. Whatever benefits CCS provides, there’s still the question of addressing the significant local environmental impacts — on biodiversity, land, water and air — associated with fossil fuel extraction.

And finally, we need to reconcile short-term measures with long-term goals. A balance needs to be struck between promoting CCS, which ultimately relies on sources of carbon emissions, and encouraging the development and deployment of other technologies that will make those emissions sources obsolete. Similarly, the threat of climate change necessitates some more fundamental societal, economic and political changes in how we manage our resources and energy systems — and those changes are not inherent in a CCS-based strategy.

At this point, Canada needs to articulate a comprehensive strategy that not only achieves significant carbon reductions through CCS, but is also aligned with meaningful action on climate change — in both the short and long terms.

One Year After Boundary Dam: CCS in Action


This is a cross-post from Bellona, published October 13, 2015. The author is Bellona Europe Director Jonas Helseth.

One year ago we saw the first commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) project come into operation at SaskPower’s coal plant in Saskatchewan, Canada. One year later, its results have been better than expected, illustrating the commercial readiness of CCS technologies. Apart from good news for further investments in CCS projects, this makes a real difference to our climate mitigating actions.

To those who say CCS is unproven on industrial scale: It was proven years ago for several industries and now Boundary Dam has proven it in the power sector. What is more, Boundary Dam’s engineers claim they can now reduce costs by at least 30 percent for another CCS project. Climate science has been crystal clear that we desperately need CCS deployment, and now there are no more excuses for inaction.

The project retrofitted Unit 3 of the power plant with post combustion capture technology. The captured CO2 is sold and transported through pipelines to an enhanced oil recovery facility. The project has managed to capture 90 per cent of the CO2 originally emitted, proving that CCS is a highly efficient tool to limit global CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the plant has managed to produce more power than expected.

The Boundary Dam CCS project has during its short time of operation won several prizes, including the Edison Electrical Institute’s Edison Award, which is one of the most prestigious honours in power generation. It has also garnered the attention of National Geographic, which has listed the project as one of 10 energy breakthroughs that could make a real impact on the world.

There are currently several CCS project on the way globally, however Boundary Dam was the first full-scale project that actually took the final step toward commercialisation. The possibility to clean up coal power plants is essential in a climate action perspective. China, India and Southeast Asia are regions that heavily rely on coal as an energy source and still will in the near future. Therefore, it is great news to see a successful CCS project up and running. Further large scale CCS application will be needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

What the EPA Rules Mean for Carbon Capture and Storage


This is a cross-post from C2ES, originally published August 19, 2015. The author is Solutions Fellow Patrick Falwell, with C2ES.

In its final rules for limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants, EPA recognized the importance of carbon capture and storage technologies to achieving U.S. carbon reduction goals.

New coal-fired power plants will likely need to capture some portion of potential emissions to meet final federal standards for emissions. While not required, existing coal and natural gas power plants may pursue carbon capture and storage (CCS) to meet state emissions targets under the final Clean Power Plan.

However, a regulatory requirement for CCS does not guarantee the development of commercial-scale projects, and additional work will be needed to address the economic barriers to CCS.

In the rule covering new power plants, EPA confirmed its original finding that CCS is technically available and feasible to implement. EPA’s final rule set an emissions standard of 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated. This is less stringent than the 1,100 lbs CO2/MWh limit originally proposed. But given that the most efficient coal plant without CCS is still likely to emit around 1,700 lbs CO2/MWh, adopting CCS is likely required.

EPA justified its conclusion by citing the experience to date in deploying CCS technology. This includes the successful launch of the world’s first commercial-scale CCS power plant by SaskPower in Saskatchewan in 2014, two commercial-scale projects under construction in the United States in Mississippi and Texas, a variety of CCS projects at industrial facilities, and numerous demonstration-scale CCS projects. In addition, EPA noted that Linde and BASF offer a performance guarantee for their joint carbon capture technology and that other well-established companies actively market CCS technology and express confidence in the technology’s ability to perform well.

Despite EPA’s confidence in CCS’s availability, it does not foresee new coal plants, with or without CCS, going forward between now and 2020. The ability of low-cost natural gas and renewables to meet new demand for electricity or replace retiring power plant capacity has and will likely continue to eliminate the need for new coal capacity. In the event that new coal capacity becomes necessary, the rule makes sure that CCS is used to reduce potential CO2 emissions.

Overall, EPA’s power plant rules provide regulatory context for CCS, but CCS remains a relatively expensive option in the power sector. Like with any other emerging technology, the cost of carbon capture will come down over time through the repeated deployment of commercial-scale projects that can provide insights into how costs can be reduced. SaskPower estimates it could build its next CCS power project at 30 percent less expense, with even greater cost reductions for the project after that. In addition, the ability to sell captured CO2 for utilization in opportunities like enhanced oil recovery (EOR) creates revenue to offset the cost and risk of investing in CCS. Most of the existing or under-construction CCS projects take or intend to take advantage of EOR.

Given that coal and natural gas are expected to continue to be a major source of energy in the United States and globally for years to come, investing in CCS and getting more commercial-scale projects under development should be a priority.


Green light for carbon capture in Oslo


This is a cross-post from Bellona, originally published June 4, 2015. The author is Marika Andersen, EU Policy and Communication Adviser for Bellona.

Bellona is encouraged to see our partners at the Oslo energy recovery agency EGE moving ahead with this project, which Bellona has closely supported from the outset.

– Oslo can take a leadership role in the development of technologies related to carbon capture from waste combustion plants, and help lift the processing of sorted waste to a new level, the Governing Mayor of Oslo, Stian Berger Røsland (Conservative party) said.

Carbon negative potential

The Norwegian environmental NGO Bellona Foundation, an advocate for Carbon Capture and Storage technology since the 1990s, has been working for years with this facility.  They celebrate this decision as Klemetsrud could become the first carbon-negative installation in Europe.

– This project, with potential to achieve carbon negative emissions, brings new momentum to European efforts on CCS. We hope that the project can be realized fast as we need to show politicians it’s possible to do a lot more. Seeing is believing, Bellona President Frederic Hauge said.

As biomass takes up CO2 when it grows, by capturing the CO2 resulting from its combustion excess CO2 is removed from the atmosphere.

The IPCC is very clear that such carbon negative solutions will also be needed on a massive scale to keep global warming below 2 degrees.

Major emission reductions

The Klemetsrud plant is one of Norway’s largest land-based industrial sites and has a large source of CO2 emissions, with annual emissions of approximately 300,000 tons. Removing these emissions will be a significant contribution to achieving the Oslo climate targets for 2030 and 2050.   Oslo’s Environment Commissioner Guri Melby (Liberal party) believes carbon capture is an important climate action, also in an international context.

Oslo City Council wants the Klemetsrud facility to become a national industrial pilot for carbon capture, and will make the facility available as an international test facility. The facility has continuous operation throughout the year with a long-term operation perspective, and is therefore a very good base for further development of carbon capture technology.


Urgency with carbon capture and storage of CO2


This is a cross-post by guest author Camilla Svendsen-Skriung with ZERO.   

One of the last things the coalition government did before it went off in 2013 was to shelve the full-scale plant at Mongstad. The present government promised that, despite this, they held on to the promise of a Norwegian CCS projects by 2020. A demanding position for the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien, who now must hammer out a new CCS policy for Norway.

The Department of Oil and Energy published  last week theGassnova report on potential full-scale CCS projects in Norway -  a pre-feasibility study.

The study shows that several industrial companies may be willing to consider CO2 capture and storage, but this is - not surprisingly - depending on the framework established by the state.

ZERO believes it is positive that Gassnova makes specific recommendations to facilitate further feasibility of CO2 capture at both Norcem and Yara facilities. That the body of waste treatment in Oslo, and further studies of CO2 capture at the Klemetsrud plant, is highlighted, is also good.

The study concludes on the other hand that a basis for investment decision for a CO2 capture project, at the earliest can be presented in autumn 2018. And this means that it will be very difficult to realize full-scale demonstration of CO2 capture in Norway by 2020.

ZERO said the study confirms the need and the good potential for CCS in Norway.  And that we have the ability to initiate measures to expedite the process towards the realization of a full-scale project. In other words, now we have to move forward in terms of Norwegian CCS policy. The goal put forward in the so called climate agreement to establish a Norwegian full-scale CCS projects by 2020, is an appropriate level of ambition and an achievable goal.
Less good is it when, as here, the authorities questions whether this goal is possible. The longer we hesitate now, the greater the chances that we do not succeed with a Norwegian CCS plants by 2020.

It is still within reach to organize and build a CCS project in three years, as the example of Saskatchewan in Canada shows, with the construction of the SaskPower’ Boundary Dam CCS project.

This is how it can be done:

1.The annual state budget for 2016 must have concrete and effective measures and adequate funding. ZERO proposes an expanded mandate and an increased allocation to Enova for CCS developments and implementation, in cooperation with Gassnova.

2. A grant of funds to one (or more) projects, after an application process, should come in 2017

3. 2017-2020: organization, construction and commissioning of a Norwegian full-scale CCS project

We believe that Tord Lien can get CCS on track. Norway needs through concrete action to show that the stated goal of Norwegian full-scale CCS still remains unchanged, and that Norway takes responsibility for its share of greenhouse cuts that are necessary to reach the international goal of a zero-emission society by 2050


Policy instruments for large scale CCS - ZERO

Scaling CO2 storage industry - Bellona



Geologic Carbon Storage: A Safe Bet.


This is a cross-post by guest author Bruce Hill with Clean Air Task Force.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as a critical technology to manage the transition to a low carbon economy, not just for power generation, but for industrial activitylike manufacturing cement and steel. Recent reports from the IPCC, the United Nations, and the International Agency have affirmed this role. 

The main mechanism for CCS is deep injection of CO2 and dissolution of the CO2 into the briny water in the rock pores combined with physically trapping the CO2 beneath thousands of feet of impermeable rock.  This is the way that nature has trapped oil and natural gas in geologic structures for tens to hundreds of millions of years.  Without this natural trapping and storage ability, we wouldn't have fossil fuels today. Geologic carbon storage takes advantage of this same natural capacity for storage. Numerous studies, and in-field tests, have demonstrated the feasibility, soundness and stability of this form of carbon storage.


Image: Storage of CO2 requires a permeable rock formation overlain by thousands of feet of rock impermeable to vertical flow. Source:

Geologic storage formations must be at great depth and overlain by a thick sequence of impermeable rock, capable of permanently trapping the CO2 whether it is in a liquid or gas form or dissolved in the formation water.  The ability to use deep geologic formations for storage is fully proven by the nearly 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas currently stored by U.S. gas companies, which has been injected back into rock formations, stored for future use (See: And in fact, CO2 injection technology is well known with a four-decade long track record of safety beginning in 1972 in Texas for the purposes of stimulating oil production. 

There is an additional possible very long-term mechanism for CCS in addition to dissolution of CO2 in briny water and trapping underneath thousands of feet of impermeable rock.  That is “mineralization” – the transformation of CO2 into solid rock, bound up with other minerals. It has been speculated that this mechanism may provide an additional layer of protection over the scale of thousands to tens of thousands of years or more (see illustration below).  But the mineralization sequestration mechanism has a small role to play in geologic storage and has never been the primary focus of CCS in time scales meaningful to humans. 


Image: Mineralization plays a small role in trapping CO2 in a permeable saline formation.  Source:

Yet that is the unfortunate misimpression left by recent press coverage of a report from MIT. In a January 21 paper entitled Mechanisms for mechanical trapping of geologically sequestered Carbon dioxide, MIT researchers Yossi Cohen and Dan Rothman analyzed the processes of how CO2 is “mineralized” i.e., bound up in minerals, when it is injected into a rock formation as a climate mitigation strategy.  The researchers modeled the mechanics of how injected CO2 reacts with carbonate storage reservoir rock to form minerals. (see: The authors concluded that only “a small fraction of injected CO2 is converted to solid mineral.” 

The paper is sound science, but a misleading press release by MIT, and subsequent press coverage that followed that release, has unfortunately mischaracterized it.  The January 20 statement issued by the MIT press covering the paper was headlined, “Sequestration on Shaky Ground,” and subtitled: “Study finds a natural impediment to the long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide.” Further, the release included an animation suggesting CO2 “bubbles” migrating upwards through rock. Finally, the junior researcher on the study, post doc student, Yossi Cohen, is quoted as saying: 

 “If it [CO2] turns into rock, it’s stable and will remain there permanently. However, if it stays in its gaseous or liquid phase, it remains mobile and it can possibly return back to the atmosphere.” 

While we applaud the paper’s contribution to the understanding of the geochemical processes associated with carbon mineralization, the research did nothing to investigate the risk of injected CO2 returning to the atmosphere over any meaningful long-term time scale in the absence of this mechanism. The authors have clarified this point on their website ( 

As noted above, carbon sequestration through the formation of minerals is notthe mechanism by which geologists will ensure CO2 is permanently trapped in the subsurface. Instead, a robust geologic CO2 storage strategy combines several trapping mechanisms, including dissolution of the CO2 into the briny water in the rock pores combined with physically trapping the CO2 beneath thousands of feet of impermeable rock. The formation of minerals is a very long-term process that would not prove useful for addressing climate change if it were the chief mechanism for geologic carbon storage. In fact over long time periods, CO2 dissolved in formation water will actually become more dense and have a tendency to sink (see image below).


Image: CO2 moves upwards to the top seal. Over time the CO2 dissolves into the formation water. This makes it denser and it moves downwards. Source: 

To be sure, CO2 cannot be injected just any old place. U.S. regulations require that repositories for CO2 must be carefully selected and rigorously evaluated by geologists, geophysicists and engineers.  (See: In order to store fluids and gases, the rock must have the right properties. For example, the rock into which the CO2 is injected must be permeable and have adequate space in the rock pores to accommodate large volumes of fluids. This injection formation must lie in geologic structures beneath an extremely thick sequence of impermeable rocks that can trap the CO2. The minimum depths of injection must be greater than a half-mile in depth, and typically equivalent to several times the height of the new One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the U.S. 

Finally, the US Geological survey has investigated the capacity of deep US geologic formations to store CO2. It estimates 500 years of capacity for CO2 at today’s emissions rates.  (See:

So, to set the record straight, geologic storage is a proven technology that does not require the mineralization of the CO2 to ensure permanence, as the MIT press release incorrectly states.  The key to safe and permanent storage – past, present and future – is deep injection of CO2 below thick, impermeable geologic strata.

Norwegian development for CCS on industry and for use of CO2


This is a cross-post by guest author Camilla Svendsen-Skriung with ZERO.

These days some long awaited good news in the world of carbon capture and storage is coming along in Norway.

The CO2 capture test project that Heidelberg Cement/Norcem started spring 2013, has recently been accepted to prolong their research till 2016. The cement production stands for 5% of the CO2 emissions worldwide. It is therefore good news that the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) and Norcem are successful frontrunners in the development of the mitigation technology on cement factories. The project in Brevik, Norway, capturing 10 000 tonnes CO2 a year, is testing four different technologies and Norcem reports that the results so far are even better than anticipated. The project is funded by the Norwegian state by 75% and is seeking to upscale and develop the whole chain of CCS, if further funded and if the state takes responsibility for developing the storage part.

In Kollsnes, near Bergen, EnPro is developing a facility which will use CO2 from the exhaust at the BKK gas power plant, to make soda ash. The soda can for example be used for soap, glass and paper. The Norwegian public enterprise Enova is funding the project with 40 million kroner, and EnPro are these days preparing the area where the facility will be built. Kollsnes BKK is producing power and heat based on waste gas from Gasnor's LNG plant. The CO2 emission is just over 30.000 tonnes per year. To use CO2 for different products can be a way of reducing emissions connected to fossil energy and industry, especially if it is further developed and even stored at the end of a life syclus. Projects like this are, in this context, very valuable.

U.S. Carbon Abatement Plans Signal Confidence in CCS Readiness


This is a post by guest author Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage, SCCS, director, University of Edinburgh.

News from the United States this week could not have been more welcome: President Obama has sidestepped the US Congress to push through much-needed plans to curb carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. With around 40% of America’s electricity still being generated from coal, the significance of this move cannot be downplayed.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan lays down the rules for cutting CO2 emissions by 30%, from around 1,600 power plants, by 2030. That the

world’s largest economy has taken this momentous decision marks a turning point in how that country perceives the threat of dangerous climate change. Indeed, every developed economy worldwide must take similar action to tackle greenhouse gas emissions or face both the physical and financial impacts of global warming.


The decision to follow through on the EPA’s proposals also suggests that President Obama’s administration believes the technology needed to abate these emissions – in other words, carbon capture and storage (CCS) – is ready to build and operate. This is in sharp contrast to the UK, where the civil service has achieved all the preparatory work in record time, yet the Government is playing a ‘go-slow’ game with its CCS Commercialisation Programme - and is yet to make any final investment decision onwhether to back two full-chain CCS demonstration projects.


The EPA is setting a good example by using regulatory instruments to drive progress on CCS, and emissions reductions from existing power plants. Here in the UK, the Emissions Performance Standard (EPS), legislated in the 2013 Energy Act, requires CCS on any new coal-fired power station – but the government has chosen not to apply EPS to existing coal power stations, or to emissions from existing and future gas-fired power generation. These new US rules show that emissions performance standards can drive change on existing sources of emissions in the coming years. The UK could consider using its existing EPS law, in order to greatly accelerate progress on the large-scale deployment of CCS technology.


At SCCS, we continue to point out that the two UK demonstration projects for CCS – even if they secure the necessary funding from HM Treasury to place the first spade in the ground – are still not enough to allow the UK to meet its carbon targets in the most cost-effective way. The UK must begin building at least 30 more such projects by 2025 to avoid incurring extra costs later. By doing so, alongside developing a sizeable CO2storage asset, the UK can future-proof itself against the 100% certainty of carbon taxes and global change.


Unfortunately, follow-on CCS projects in the UK are still stalling due to uncertainty and a drawn-out bureaucratic process. Three fully commercial – and at one time lauded – full-chain CCS projects await the UK Government’s use of market powers, which already exist, to kickstart development. All of these projects feature IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) technology that would use coal or other feedstock to create electricity, and initially use aquifers for storage – though all could pipe CO2 offshore to produce additional oil recovery from depleted fields, thereby storing carbon whilst meeting some costs through oil tax revenue.


This week’s developments in the US signal a shift towards enforcing CCS on all power plants, on at least a proportion of their power generation. We also know that CCS projects waiting in the wings are considering both pre- and post-combustion capture technology. So is the UK Government over-regulating prospective CCS developers? Will the provisions made to support CCS within a revised electricity market instead prevent innovation and learning, which any fledgling industry needs to streamline technology and bring down costs? 


Critics in the US have claimed that the new rules will cause power plants to close and electricity prices to rise. In the UK, a select committee of elected MPs – brought together to examine progress on CCS to date by the Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – released its report last month. It concluded that developing CCS technology would reduce wholesale electricity costs in 2030 by 20%, but that progress towards that objective was exceptionally slow. And the UK Energy Technologies Institute has calculated CCS will halve the economy-wide extra cost of delivering low-carbon power by 2050. So there are few excuses remaining to delay the deployment of CCS. This decision by the US administration is an acknowledgement by one of the world’s most powerful nations that CCS is both essential and achievable.

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) is an independent research partnership of British Geological Survey, Heriot-Watt University, University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. Its researchers are engaged in high-level CCS research as well as joint projects with industry, with the aim of supporting the development and eventual commercialisation of CCS as a climate mitigation technology worldwide.


Reaching Out on CCS, an ENGO perspective


This is a GCCSI Insights cross-post written by Chris Smith, ENGO Network on CCS coordinator. 

How important is public engagement to carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects? According to participants at a February 26 Education Outreach Workshop at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC, very. It can ultimately mean the success or failure of a project.

Mike Fernandez with the Government of Alberta welcomed those from industry, government, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academics and other stakeholders, who gathered to glean lessons learned from various case studies, research and other recommendations important for future CCS communications efforts.

Workshop goals included:

  • facilitating discussion in North America on the importance of educational outreach materials on CCS
  • improving access to current best practices
  • creating networks for future collaborations.

From my perspective, here are six key takeaway lessons from the workshop:
  1. K12 Education: One of the greatest challenges in K12 education outreach is the lack of awareness among teachers and education boards on energy, especially CCS technology. Helping to develop curriculum resources, as well as showing teachers where CCS fits into their required curriculum can be key to educating the educators. Among the tactics recommended for public education and outreach, partnering with a regional public broadcasting network in one case yielded significant results and led to the creation of a successful Teacher Training Program.
  2. Resources: The number of resources and initiatives related to CCS is increasing. It includes college and professional schools, project websites, research consortia, environmental groups, school curriculum resources and more.
  3. Challenges: You need a certain amount of energy literacy – in the climate change context and where energy comes from – before you begin educating people on CCS. Outreach challenges can include a concept called “strategic apathy,” where the audience has to navigate competing information needs, interests and topic complexities. Of course, budget constraints are an ongoing challenge.
  4. Communications materials: Visual materials can be powerful, especially print or digital publications that show at a glance – to scale – the depths of geologic sequestration. Also, audiences continue to ask for more interactive communication materials such as video, websites, and other multimedia.
  5. Five steps for community engagement: 1) understand the local community context; 2) exchange information about the project; 3) identify the appropriate level of engagement; 4) discuss project risks and benefits; and 5) continue engagement through the project life cycle. As highlighted in the World Resources Institute's Guidelines for Community Engagement.
  6. What the public wants: Demonstrate early, project transparency and accessibility. Recent research also showed that education materials should be succinct and address 'what if' questions (eg, what if there’s a leak, what if there’s an earthquake?). Respondents were satisfied once these kinds of risks were addressed.

After the workshop I asked a couple of participants for their feedback. One of them said, “We have a strong understanding of how to communicate information about CCS to a variety of audiences – and about how to engage local communities where projects may be sited – but more resources are needed to develop next generation approaches that leverage today's technology and reach people in today's digitally-connected world.” Another commented, “It was nice to find that there is a lot of commonality.” Personally, I’m encouraged by workshops such as this. The need for increased communications continues to be an ongoing theme in all aspects of CCS, and one that must surely be addressed for ultimate project success. Also, many thanks are due to the Global CCS Institute and the Canadian Government for hosting this collaborative and beneficial forum.

For more workshop details, links to participant presentations can be found below:

Update on the Global CCS Institute’s Educational Outreach Program:

Experts Perspectives on current educational outreach experiences:

Update from the ‘Creating Core Messages’ group:

Experience from early CCS/CCUS demonstration projects on outreach work & next steps:


Do CO2 Injections Pose Risk of Harmful Earthquakes?


This post was written by CATF's Senior Geologist Bruce Hill and originally appeared in CATF's Ahead of the Curve.

How common are measurable earthquakes in association with oilfield operations? The answer is: exceedingly rare.  Nevertheless, another scientific paper has raised the possibility of seismic events occurring as a result of injection of CO2 to stimulate new oil production from depleted oil fields.  Since this process, known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR), is a vital component of making carbon capture and storage (CCS) economically viable as a means of addressing global climate change, we must take a close look at the facts.  So here’s what we know:

On November 4, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) released a paper on seismicity that may have been induced by injections of gases in a West Texas oilfield. The oilfield studied, near Snyder Texas, has been subject to injection-related production stimulation since 1957.   In the present study, authors report minor seismicity recorded between 2006 and 2011 with 18 earthquakes. Of the 18 recorded events, 17 were Richter magnitude 3 (associated with barely or unnoticeable ground shaking) and one was a magnitude 4.3 (ground shaking capable of rattling dishes but not significant harm).  To put this in perspective, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), worldwide there are an estimated 1.3 million earthquakes between magnitude of 2.0 and 2.9, 130,000 earthquakes between 3.0 and 3.9 and 13,000 earthquakes between magnitudes 4.0 and 5.0 annually. None of the seismicity halted injection; instead the operators paid extra attention to optimizing the injection rates.

The study further points out that in the adjacent and well-known SACROC field– in the same town of Snyder, Texas that has been undergoing CO2 flooding for 40 years– that there has been no induced seismicity. In fact, CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) was born in these fields, having been in operation since 1971. Since then, over four decades of experience of CO2 management with approximately one billion metric tons of CO2 injected over that period in tens of thousands of wells has produced one and a half billion barrels of oil. But, only three known earthquakes greater than 4.0 magnitude have been recorded during oilfield water flooding, and none known to be associated with CO2 flooding, according to the complete review of seismic events associated with energy technology in the United States published by The National Academy of Sciences (NAS, 2012).

It is well known that tiny earthquakes – those that impart an energy release at a depth of a kilometer similar to dropping a gallon of milk on the floor – can be associated with tiny cracks that may form to accommodate fluids injected into the pores of rocks. Such seismicity (known as microseismicity) is only measurable with extremely sensitive instruments, and do not represent precursors to major events nor do they signal movement on known or unknown faults. In fact, in EOR, operators take pains to ensure that rocks are not over pressured and inadvertently fracked because fractures allow CO2 to circumvent the oil-filled pores rather than to sweep the oil out. In fact, fracking is avoided in EOR and carbon storage because it will severely reduce the effectiveness of the spread of CO2 through the formation pores. Instead, EOR takes place in a pressure-depleted reservoir and rebuilds pressure towards minimum miscibility-the point at which CO2 mixes with the oil to most effectively move it out of the rock. This process takes place well below the rock fracture point. In a carbon storage regime, operators will focus on “concurrent storage”, that is, normal operations with added monitoring and accounting–related surveillance. If operators desire to undertake storage alone, then, under current rules, they must operate EPA’s Underground Injection Control Rule that requires remaining well below the frac pressure at 90% of the rock strength.

CO2 injection operations are commonplace in the US. Today 4,000 miles of CO2 pipelines connect to 127 projects producing over 100 million barrels of oil annually utilizing 57 million metric tons of CO2. Furthermore, there are over 100,000 wells undergoing water flooding today and another 13,000 wells undergoing CO2 flooding. After decades of operations, wastewater disposal has also been associated with only eight events that have been actually felt by nearby residents, none of which have been associated with significant damage. Moreover, over 4 billion tons of fluids are injected into the subsurface in over 30,000 wells every year in the United States and minor induced seismicity is limited to a few fields. While the experience with CO2 injection for carbon storage projects is small, according to the 2012 NAS study, there are no known historically felt events and none with a magnitude of 2.0 or greater. Why is this? Storage of CO2 in oilfields is accompanied typically by production of water, hydrocarbons and CO2 resulting in a balancing of subsurface pressure. In fact “stacked storage” in oil and gas field using associated brine formations, may prove advantageous in a number of ways including the opportunity for pressure management by fluid production.

Induced seismicity associated with oil and gas operations continues to be an issue of interest to policymakers, though, following a 2012 paper by Stanford researchers Mark Zoback and Steve Gorelick relative to future ability of deep subsurface geologic formations to accept and contain large volumes of injected CO2 captured from power plants. However, MIT researchers Ruben Juanez, Brad Hagar and Howard Herzog penned a PNAS rebuttal to that study pointing out that earthquakes largely occur in crystalline “basement” rocks that lie beneath the many thousands of feet of sedimentary reservoir rocks where oil and gas deposits occur, or where CO2 might be stored.  Injections into those sedimentary rocks are very unlikely to trigger an earthquake in the underlying crystalline basement rocks. CATF has also addressed that study on our own website.

How do we avoid causing earthquakes? Despite the vanishingly small risk of damaging earthquakes with CO2 injections, careful site selection, risk analysis, constant surveillance and injection management must be essential components of healthy geologic carbon storage projects, particularly in seismically active areas.  Carbon storage sites should be carefully screened, and those posing high seismic (or other) risk should be avoided or management systems employed. Monitoring of CO2 injections should include pressure management and tracking of subsurface CO2 plumes relative to geologic structures.

So, the recent PNAS paper provides further understanding of into seismicity associated with subsurface injection of CO2, but it is important to note that in the paper, the authors correctly put their results in perspective, stating: “The fact that no other gas injection sites have reported earthquakes with magnitudes as large as 3, suggests that despite Zoback and Gorelick’s (2012) concerns it is possible that in many locations large volume CO2 injection may not induce earthquakes.”

North Sea oil platform decommissioning offers new opportunities for CCS


This is a cross-post by guest author Teodora Serafimova with Bellona.

The reality of the carbon bubble is becoming ever more pronounced. Following the filing of a resolution by Shell, whereby it committed itself to publishing detailed analyses of how its business plans go hand-in-hand with climate change objectives, it has made an announcement to decommission its North Sea oil platform, the Brent Delta. This in turn could translate into good news for the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology.

The dramatic decline in the oil price has resulted in big cuts in North Sea oil exploration and acceleration in the decommissioning of related infrastructure. Shell, one of the major oil companies involved in these developments, has recently announced plans to begin decommissioning the Brent Delta platform, weighing 23,500 tonnes and standing higher than the Eiffel Tower. (Read more on the reality of the carbon bubble and stranded assets here).

Shell plans to transport the platform by sea to Teesside for onshore demolition. Rig decommissioning may cost €20 billion over the next decade and 60% of those costs will ultimately be borne by the government through tax relief, getting economic and environmental value matters.

Recent research undertaken by Green Alliance which assesses the most cost effective and environmentally friendly ways of treating old rig infrastructure, concludes that the decommissioning of oil platforms could offer some promising opportunities for CCS. The study argues that the optimal treatment of old oil rig infrastructure would be not to remove it all, but rather repurpose it as part of a new CCS network. This would not only lower the cost of decommissioning, but would also facilitate the deployment of CCS and render it more cost effective. The viability of pipeline reuse for CCS infrastructure has already been demonstrated by the Peterhead CCS project. In order to deliver this effectively, careful planning of the links between potential sources and sinks, and collaboration across the oil and gas sector around the shared use of infrastructure would be required.

Bellona strongly supports the repurposing of oil and gas infrastructure for the development of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure. A growing CO2 storage industry has the potential to maintain high skilled employment across the North Sea as the hydrocarbon industry shrinks.  This offers promising opportunities for the recently launched Teesside Collective project, which will transport captured CO2 emissions via a shared pipeline network for permanent storage beneath the North Sea.

UK launches industrial CCS vision


This is a cross-post by guest author Teodora Serafimova with Bellona.

Major energy-intensive industrial plants in Teesside have launched their vision of accommodating Europe’s first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone. Teesside Collective aims to capture CO2 emissions and transport them via a shared pipeline network for permanent storage beneath the North Sea. Besides reaffirming the UK’s leadership position in industrial CCS development, retrofitting CCS in Teesside would entail significant benefits in terms of maintaining and growing the country’s industrial base and workforce, as well as ensuring climate change objectives are met.

What makes the Teesside Collective project different from other CCS projects in the UK is its focus on industrial emissions rather than emissions from electricity generation. Teesside represents 58% of the UK chemical industry and the Northeast process industries contribute around €35 billion/year to the UK economy. The region also accommodates the UK’s 25 most emission-intensive plants and regional emissions per person are almost three times the national average. By capturing 90% of the emissions, CCS would shield companies in Teesside from rising carbon permit costs.

For several energy-intensive industries, CCS as the only available technology to reduce emissions sufficiently in the foreseeable future” notes Jonas Helseth, Director at Bellona Europa, welcoming the launch of the Teesside Collective.

Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership, has been awarded €1 million by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop a business case for deploying industrial CCS in the Teesside cluster and to make recommendations for a funding mechanism. This is to be completed by the summer of 2015.

Initial findings of engineering work on the site suggest that the project is feasible. Retrofitting the CCS technology to the four anchor projects’ different industrial processes, namely steel, ammonia, hydrogen and polyethylene terephthalate production, is operationally and technically feasible. What is more, Teesside is optimally located for the transportation of the carbon to permanent storage facilities under the Central or Southern North Sea.

Equipping the Teesside industrial zone with CCS would offer the benefit of reconciling the UK’s climate change and re-industrialisation objectives. Besides maintaining and expanding the industrial base and workforce, CCS would make an important contribution to reducing the UK’s CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. In fact, a number of recent legislative outcomes and influential reports, such as the EU’s Energy Roadmap to 2050 and the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report have confirmed the essence of CCS technologies and negative emissions, attained via Bio-CCS, to halt global temperature increase to 2°C.

Environmental NGO groups in favour of CCS


This is a ZeroCO2.No cross-post written by Camilla Svendsen-Skriung, a member of the ENGO Network on CCS.

Wired claims that environmentalists are actively working against CCS in an article this week, but the ENGO Network on CCS has promoted CCS as a part of the climate solution since 2011.

Wired magazine published a thorough article about clean coal this week. They argue, as do several international organizations like the IEA, that the world needs clean coal in addition to renewable energy to meet the future energy needs. However, the article also claims that environmentalists have lobbied hard against the technology and that the technology is being scoffed by the same group.

It is true that some NGOs are sceptical towards CCS, and that some even work and argue against it. But that is only part of the picture.

As would be expected, our organisations approached CCS with caution, says Camilla Svendsen Skriung, political adviser in ZERO and member of the ENGO Network on CCS.

Several environmental NGOs oppose CCS because they consider storage to be unsafe and that CCS expands the usage of fossil fuels and displaces renewable energy sources. In the light of this it is important for those ENGOs who accept that CCS is necessary to reach the two-degree goal to cooperate and to be well coordinated. This is the background for establishing the ENGO network.

The international ENGO Newtwork on CCS has established an efficient information channel for environmental organisations that work with CCS and is a solid platform for a united voice in international forums.

Having a network for environmental organisations that view CCS as a climate solution is invaluable. These 10 reputable ENGOs are central figures in the international climate battle. By working together, having a united voice and standpoints, they become a stronger political force internationally. Thus these organisations can support each other’s work to influence national authorities and other stakeholders.

After a long and careful study of the available science, we have concluded that CCS can be carried out safely and effectively, provided it is adequately regulated. Our conclusions are based on, and are backed by, an overwhelming consensus of the scientific literature and prominent research institutions, Skriung Svendsen continues.

Good and thorough articles on CCS are always welcome, but one should recognize that several environmental NGOs acknowledge CCS as a part of the climate solution.

Putting it Back: How to Deploy Large-Scale CCS


This is a cross-post written by Ida Sofia Va, web journalist for ZERO. She writes about CCS-related topics for

ZERO recently released a report about policy instruments for large-scale CCS, which offers a thorough analysis of the policy-making instruments and suggestions on how to best implement CCS in Europe.

CCS has been met with some major setbacks lately, but it is not because of the lack of available technology. We know how to do it, but the problem seems to be on the policy-making side of CCS, says Camilla Svendsen Skriung, Policy Adviser for CCS in ZERO.

Once we create a market mechanism for CCS, the conditions for the industry will improve. We suggest a shared responsibility system, where the producers of fossil fuels have the obligation to buy a certificate from the developers of CCS projects. This way the industry will have an incentive and a possibility to deploy CCS.

Considerable improvements in framework conditions are required to trigger sufficient development and implementation of CCS. In order to meet this major challenge, ZERO has carried out an analysis to contribute to bringing CCS instruments onto the political agenda and closer to implementation.

The overall target of the report is to carry out a study of policy instruments for realisation of large-scale deployment of CCS, to identify the instruments best suited and to propose specific recommendations for the way forward towards sufficient large-scale CCS implementation.

The report is part of ZERO’s work to achieve the necessary deployment of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS), as one important mitigation solution to solve the climate challenge.

There are many studies concerning the question of how to ensure the technological up-scaling of CCS and instruments for this learning phase, but we have gone one step further and considered the following question: What are the policy instruments that will take development beyond the first demonstration projects, to the several hundreds of CCS projects?

For large-scale industry applications as CCS, 2020 is nearly here and 2030 is not far away. Long-term predictable frameworks are crucial to boost the speed of needed investments and development. Short-term challenges are important but must not take the focus away from putting long-term policy instruments in place.

In order to ensure large-scale deployment of CCS, ZERO considers a mix of instruments indispensable: at the core, an instrument giving sufficient incentive to make business cases for CCS viable and trigger investments in deployment and innovation. For industry to embark on large-scale investments, a long-term predictable framework is needed.  The best policy instrument for up-scaling of CCS deployment to emerge from this analysis is a CCS certificate system combined with an appropriate EPS. The certificate system finances the cost for CCS deployment through a cost-sharing model, while the EPS sets a very clear regulation, stopping investments in high-emission conventional solutions.

ZERO hopes, and thinks, this work will be of interest and contribute to spark the deployment of CCS on a large scale. The next step is of course to develop an effective framework for CCS, and not the least: to implement it and get it to work.

Link to the report:


CCS: Sparking Deployment


This post was written by David Hawkins, NRDC Director of Climate Programs, and originally appeared on GCCSI's Insights.

I came away from the Global CCS Institute’s eighth annual Members' meeting in Seoul earlier this month with a feeling of frustration that I sense many attendees shared. Though I suspect the reasons for my frustration may differ from many of the other attendees.

At the meeting, there was much discussion of the sluggish pace of carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment and the modest level of government support for CCS – a level most participants believe is well below what is needed to get more of the first commercial round of CCS projects financed and built.

There was little in the way of assessment of the reasons for this state of affairs and this is what has been on my mind since the meeting. In my view, the general lack of support, both political and financial, for CCS can be tied to two large factors: the attitude of most governments and industries regarding the need for serious, near-term action to abate climate-disrupting emissions – an attitude which is a mixture of lip service, indifference, and outright hostility; and the attitude of most environmental organisations toward CCS – a mixture of vocal support from a few and indifference and outright hostility from many.

This piece is to suggest what I think industry leaders can and must do to help change the situation.

First, industry leaders need to decide it is time to go all in on the matter of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policies. The truth is that most governments will never provide the level of support that pioneer CCS efforts need and most businesses will never spend the private capital required until the world’s biggest emitting countries embrace serious mitigation efforts. Industry’s stance on this matter is critical. Without active support for serious policies from business, governments will continue as they have for too long, with tentative, toe-in-the water programs that fail to provide the policy framework to make CCS viable as a meaningful part of a strategy.

Many business people of good faith have hesitated to organise a serious advocacy effort for GHG mitigation because they fear the policies that may be adopted will harm their business interests. This stance, while understandable, ignores the growing reality that ignoring climate disruption poses even greater risks to business interests, especially in the energy area.

Many in the fossil fuel sector say they want technologies like CCS to be perfected before they can endorse policies that would make such technologies a rational best practice. But this creates a chicken and egg dilemma, where hesitation on the policy front creates hesitation on deployment of technologies like CCS. In my view, if business waits until political pressures to deal with climate disruption are so enormous that governments are forced to respond, the policy chicken that emerges is not likely to be designed to lay many CCS eggs. If there has been no meaningful political constituency developed for CCS, why would one expect policymakers to prioritise CCS when they respond to demands for action?

Which brings me to the second big problem that business needs to confront more effectively: the fact that the core constituency for action to protect the climate – environmentalists, clean energy advocates, progressives – are mostly either lukewarm or hostile to CCS. This is not a new point; it is one I have made repeatedly to business audiences going on 15 years now.

Part of the reason for the persistent hostility from the "green" community is their view (mostly accurate) of the fossil fuel sector's position on climate protection. Given the mixture of opposition and hesitation to emission abatement policies from this sector, the view of the "green" community is that CCS is not really a tool to enable serious emission cuts but is rather the premise for an argument to delay adoption of climate protection policies. A cursory Google search will produce far too many examples of fossil fuel spokespersons arguing that policy change must await the further development of CCS, a development that seems always to be a decade or more in the future.

In the US, we are witnessing the latest example of the "CCS yes, but not yet" syndrome. In response to the US Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to base emission limits for new coal plants on partial CCS, most in industry are declaring that this move means the death of coal and are busy creating a record of claims that CCS is just not ready.

US fossil fuel interests are at a crossroads with this rulemaking. If they persist in an effort to block the EPA"s rule by attempting to create a drumbeat that CCS is not an available technology, the result may be to further disenchant the green community and the public at large with the idea that CCS might be part of the climate protection solution set.

Another barrier to acceptance of CCS by the green community is the belief that if CCS is employed it will be at the expense of greater reliance on energy efficiency and renewables resources. Here again, I think there are things the proponents of CCS can do to reduce this conflict. (I am not suggesting there is nothing the green community can do to ease this conflict but the audience for this post is largely made up of CCS proponents.)

Part of the reason the green community sees CCS as a threat to efficiency and renewables is that CCS proponents often make the case for CCS by arguing that renewables are, and always will be, too expensive to get the job done. But this is not a proposition that many in the green community are going to accept as a given.  Hence an argument that relies on this claim is not likely to be persuasive.

There are a couple of lines of argument for CCS that are more persuasive (to me at least). The first is a gap-closing argument. Why not examine the most ambitious scenarios of renewables penetration in the literature and calculate the cumulative emissions from fossil energy use and other GHG emissions while renewables are being brought to the requisite scale? Under any scenarios with which I am familiar, there will be a very large amount of cumulative emissions under the best of circumstances. Every tonne of that cumulative "residual" adds to the risk of serious climate disruption. If CCS could reduce that residual substantially, why wouldn’t one want to include it in the solution set?