CCST Paper Finds that California Needs to Resolve Regulatory Uncertainties Surrounding Carbon Capture and Storage
January 9, 2015
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is potentially important for advancing California's energy future
and climate goals, but deploying the technique depends in part on resolving regulatory uncertainties,
according to the latest paper in CCST's California's Energy Future - Policy series.
"Almost all solutions developed by the California's Energy Future project to meet 80% reductions
in emissions by 2050 require CCS in some manner," said CCST Council Member Jane C.S. Long, Former
Principal Associate Director at Large, Global Security Directorate Fellow, Center for Global
Security Research Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "CCST commissioned this white paper
to inform the discussion of how to include CCUS in the portfolio of climate options in California."
The paper tracks the carbon for projects which capture CO2 from gas-fired power plants
and sells this CO2 into an enhanced oil recovery market (known as carbon capture
"utilization" and storage, or CCUS). Several companies have proposed CCUS projects in California
where the economics can be improved by using captured CO2 for CO2-EOR. While many of the component
technologies required for such projects are available, significant risks remain, and innovation is
required to effectively integrate the technologies, organizations, and industries that comprise
CCS-EOR. In theory, California's climate policies could stimulate such CCUS deployments (within a
broader technology portfolio) to advance key climate policy objectives; however, the treatment of
these systems under existing regulations is not yet sufficiently well resolved.
Resolving the regulatory uncertainties surrounding CCUS is important because, if successful, early CCUS projects could
open the door to several potentially important low-carbon energy systems for California, such as:
- Burning biomass to make electricity and sequestering the CO2 to yield net negative emissions;
- Reforming methane to make hydrogen fuel and sequestering the resulting 2;
methods to directly capture CO2 from the air and either sequestering the CO2 or utilizing it to
produce low-carbon fuels; and
- Providing dispatchable low-carbon electricity.
The paper addresses these regulatory uncertainties and provides a concrete basis for ongoing
policy discussions by evaluating greenhouse gas emissions from a hypothetical CCUS deployment
according to a plain reading of the California cap-and-trade program and the California
Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
CCST's California's Energy Future - Policy (CEF-P) project is intended to help explore a policy framework
that will enable the best energy technology deployment decisions for the state of California. It
was initiated following the completion of the
California's Energy Future project, which provided detailed analyses of the potential of different energy technologies
to reduce California's emissions by 2050; the CEF-P papers focus exclusively on the implications
of these technology analyses for policy.
"CCUS has been identified first as a way to develop CCS in California, but the analysis in this
report indicates that significant carbon reductions are afforded by CCUS as a system," said Long.
"Testing out this technology in the state would allow policy makers to understand how much they can
count on sequestration and how to regulate it."