In Lima, Peru at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP) 20 last week, GCCC’s Vanessa Nunez-Lopez and Katherine Romanak built on CCS momentum by hosting an information booth and an official side event with IEAGHG titled “New large-scale carbon capture and storage projects operating in the Americas.”
The event showed the viability of CCS as a mitigation tool. Projects in various modes of deployment were highlighted including a summary of USA projects (emphasizing the role of the GCCC), the start of the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Petrobras’ strategies for using CCS to manage the CO2 co-produced with Pre-salt hydrocarbons.
GCCC also presented information about an initiative for a global collaboration on an offshore demonstration project spearheaded by both the GCCC and the U.S. Department of Energy through the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. IEAGHG summarized the significance of these projects in light of the anticipated climate agreement to be negotiated in Paris in 2015.
The GCCC/IEAGHG-hosted event was well-attended and well received. One Washington DC-based attendee summarized the impact of the discussions, “I didn’t believe CCS could work but now I see that it can, because you are actually doing it.”
Presentations given at the side event can be viewed here:
GCCC’s first technical input to the UNFCCC was in 2011 when we presented research on groundwater protection and monitoring at both a UNFCCC workshop held in Abu Dhabi, UAE and at a side event at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. Both events were designed to inform policy-makers about the latest CCS research relevant to negotiations on whether CCS should be included in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for developing countries. GCCC technical input contributed to inclusion of CCS in the CDM which has set the stage for CCS to be recognized in other UNFCCC mechanisms including the finance mechanism of the Green Climate Fund, which recently reached a total of $10 billion in pledges.
Many nations recognize that immense potential for geologic storage of carbon dioxide exists in subsea sites on the continental shelf. Indeed, every continent in the world is bordered by passive marine margins suitable for storage. The geology does not stop at the shoreline, and the deep subsurface of those offshore margins is highly suitable for storage. An added attraction of offshore storage is co-location of carbon sources and sinks, as most large industrial emissions sources occur in coastal regions. Compared to onshore sites, which are owned by private entities, offshore territories are controlled by government gencies, thus simplifying regulation and permitting. In addition, potential risks to shallow sources of drinking water and human health and safety are reduced in offshore settings. Such benefits have the potential to resonate with many nations, in particular, industrialized countries that must participate in climate change mitigation for any meaningful impact to occur.
But, working in an offshore environment presents challenges. Costs of siting, development, and monitoring are not insignificant, and regulation of risk and liability may not be well established in all nations. Continue reading →
A lot of work has been done on designing monitoring programs for carbon capture and storage sites. All of the regulations, very properly, say that monitoring should be site-specific. But the details of how a regulator and an operator determine what is site-specific have not been fully explored. This creates uncertainty. What the site-specific phrase means to a regulator may not match up with what the site-specific phrase means to a site developer.
At the Gulf Coast Carbon Center, we have considered the ways that monitoring tools interact with sites. In this context, we have found it useful to think of these tools as traps for catching carbon dioxide leaks. Leakage from a well-characterized storage reservoir is not expected, however even from a site for which the characterization is excellent, some uncertainty remains. Stakeholders, such as regulators, capture industries, project financiers, or the public may find such uncertainty unacceptable. To borrow an analogy from a business whose entire goal is the elimination of the unacceptable: You can’t catch a mouse with a squirrel trap. You also won’t catch a mouse in a lake in the winter. You have to set the right kind of trap, in the right place, at the right time to determine if you do or do not have mice.
We explore how to set the right trap to catch leakage using four common tools as examples. Continue reading →