The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Program (RCSP) in the USA has been engaged in its third phase of operation since 2008. This phase has involved large scale (0.25 to 1 Mt/y) injection of CO2 into six geological formations across North America since 2013. The DOE, through the National Energy Technologies Laboratory (NETL), manages the RCSP Initiative. The NETL required a fourth independent peer review of the Initiative in 2017. Three previous independent peer reviews, by international experts, were completed in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
The 2017 international independent expert review of the RCSP had the following aims:
- To follow up progress in addressing the recommendations of the third review in 2013, both in terms of the overall RCSP and individual regional partnerships and their Phase III projects;
- To assess the progress on the individual Phase III projects (7) and consider whether the proposed technical work program for each project has achieved its goals and those of the overall RCSP. Each project was expected to respond to the recommendations made in the previous review in 2013 and whether any subsequent modifications to project plans had achieved their desired effect;
- To assess results and key findings from the Phase III tests across the RCSP;
- To assess the overall technical program of the RCSP, address the synergies between the 7 Phase III projects and how they complement each other and how collectively they can provide a technical basis for future commercial scale projects in the USA;
- To assess how the RCSP compares, complements and contrasts with similar projects underway worldwide and how the information from these projects can help build an international knowledge base on CO2 capture and storage.
The review meeting was held in Pittsburgh, USA in January 2017. Each partnership presented a summary of their project’s progress and key findings since the inception of Phase III. The panel consisted of eight international experts. Each RCSP team outlined the technical and non-technical scope of its project and presented interim results. The panel discussed the merits and challenges of each project in view of objectives and goals and then made a series of recommendations to improve and enhance each work program.
A publically available summary of this review is now available on the IEAGHG website: http://www.ieaghg.org/publications/technical-reports/129-publications/new-reports-list/827-2017-tr11
Yesterday, Amber Rudd MP the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK, gave a speech on the new direction for the UK’s Energy Policy. The core of the speech concerned making energy security a first priority because she said “it is fundamental to the health of our economy and the lives of our people”. The speech outlines the need to build a new low carbon energy infrastructure incorporating gas, renewables and nuclear. She reaffirmed an earlier UK commitment to shut down the older coal fired power plant by 2025. If achieved she says the UK will be the first developed country to deliver on a commitment to take (unabated) coal off the system.
Coming as it does ahead of COP21 this speech confirms the UKs commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The Secretary of State links energy security with climate change, “Energy security has to be the number one priority. But no responsible government should take a risk on climate change either. Because it’s one of the greatest long-term threats to our economic security. So the challenge we face is how we make sure that energy remains as the backbone of our economy, while we transform to a low carbon system. “
The speech makes consistent references to unabated coal, which in my mind suggests abated coal plants i.e. those with CCS will be part of the UK’s energy future. This I believe is reinforced in her discussion with respect to R&D and innovation. She states that “DECC funding for innovation is already supporting the development of transformative technologies here in the UK. In energy storage, in low carbon transport fuels, in more efficient lighting. These and many more examples, such as CCS, point to the creation of new industries and new jobs in the UK”.
The UK is leading the deployment of CCS in the Europe both on coal and gas. The Secretary of States speech I feel is supportive of the UK’s investment in CCS technology so far and points us to CCS being part of the UK’s energy future.
I am very pleased to announce that a Special Issue commemorating the 10th year anniversary of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on CO2 Capture and Storage is now on line for all to view.
Free promotional access of the Special Issue can be found at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/17505836/40
The Special issue has been over a year in preparation and contains an Editorial and 17 papers that chart the progress made in key areas of CCS in the last ten years. It was deliberately timed to come out in advance of COP21 to provide an update on technical developments on CCS to demonstrate that the technology has not stood still since the IPCC SRCCS was issued in 2005.
The take away message from the Special Issue is:
“We can be certain that the science and the technologies supporting CCS as a climate change mitigation tool have experienced a great advance in the last 10 years, consolidating and expanding the knowledge base to estimate more accurately the impacts, risks and cost associated with large CCS projects”
I would like to thank Elsevier for granting free promotional access to the papers in this SI until 31st December 2015 through the link above.
Editor in Chief
As an organisation, we are keen to increase our knowledge sharing activities and engage with as large an audience as possible. From this desire was born the new series of webinars planned to summarise our learnings from our technical studies. The first in this series was presented by Dr Stanley Santos and entitled CCS in the Process Industries: An Overview to the Different Challenges and Opportunities. We were taken aback by the level of interest shown in this webinar when we first announced the registration and became concerned at one point that we would not be able to accommodate everyone wishing to attend! Fortunately, busy work schedules and last minute meetings came to our rescue and some had to cancel.
Meeting the long-term goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to limit global temperature rises to 2°C will require radical changes to energy systems over the coming decades. In this context, carbon capture and storage (CCS) represents a key mitigation option to achieve the envisaged emission reduction pathways in a cost efficient manner. Furthermore, CCS is currently the only technology that can enable deep cuts in CO2 emissions, or even “negative” emissions, across fossil-based power generation and many carbon intensive industries.
This study aims to characterise key countries and regions worldwide where CCS could play an important part of mitigation efforts, based on national circumstances and priorities. Given the need to reach an international climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December this year in Paris, the study provides a basis for understanding the relevance of CCS within this process. The study also looks at how CCS deployment barriers can be addressed and needs met, and identifies how CCS can be supported through international frameworks.
The key messages from the report are:
- CCS is an opportunity for many countries to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A portfolio of CCS technologies is available, depending on CO2 sources and availability of suitable storage sites.
- The relative importance of CCS within a country’s portfolio of climate actions will vary according to national circumstances, e.g. reliance on fossil power generation, expected economic growth, presence of carbon intensive industries, storage availability, etc.
- There are significant drivers for CCS deployment across all world regions. However, this deployment will take place over several decades and with different rates according to countries’ different circumstances.
- Uptake of CCS is far behind the levels necessary for the envisaged global emission reductions , as CCS deployment faces a broad spectrum of barriers in both developed and developing countries, e.g.:
Legal and regulatory: Lack of suitable frameworks, laws and regulations to ensure safe and effective CCS
Policy: CCS is often overlooked in national policy priorities, so policy makers need to implement and design them in a way to facilitate private and public sector investments
Economic and financial: Incentives are likely necessary to overcome investments risks and ensure economic viability of CCS projects
Technical: Integration of capture, transport and storage components is still in its infancy
Institutional and public acceptance: Successful project deployment and public acceptance of CCS require significantly more capacity building and knowledge transfer on a national and international level
- Countries and regions are at different stages along the CCS deployment pathway. Key elements during this process are:
Scoping and agenda setting
Building-up institutional capacity and legal/regulatory frameworks
Designing and implementing suitable policies
- Creating a market for CCS, e.g. through carbon pricing, will facilitate wider deployment. However, experiences from countries leading in CCS (such as Canada, Norway, EU and USA) shows that this process can be very time-consuming.
- For many countries costs present a major challenge. Those countries could benefit from taking specific action that entail little costs (e.g. developing regulations and policies) first. This could increasing their level of “CCS readiness” for the coming years.
- Mechanisms within the emerging UNFCCC framework can help support CCS in both developing and developed countries through the following:
Providing an overall mitigation policy framework (e.g. modalities and procedures (M&Ps), IPCC GHG Reporting Guidelines)
Mobilising finance for CCS projects (e.g. Green Climate Fund (GCF), New Market Mechanism (NMM), a reformed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM))
Addressing technology needs, transferring knowledge and building capacity (e.g. through the Technology Mechanism)
- National climate plans do not always adequately recognise CCS. At the time of writing the report only four parties had made specific reference to CCS within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs): Norway, Mexico, the EU and Canada.
Download the full report
The QICS project in the UK may be known to many of you working in the area of environmental impacts of CO2 storage. It was a novel project, being the first controlled release of CO2 into sea-bed sediments. The project addressed two main questions: if leakage from geological storage offshore occurred would the environmental impact to the marine ecosystem be significant; and what are the best methods for detection and impact monitoring in the marine environment? We have been fortunate to follow the developments of this project through presentations and discussions at our Monitoring Network and Environmental Research Network meetings each year since their injection of CO2 in mid-2012.
The main analysis of the results has now been completed and 21 papers have just been published in a special issue of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (Volume 38, July 2015). These papers cover a large range of subjects, including the overall project and experimental description, detection and monitoring, analysis of the gas migration pathways, CO2 bubble plume dynamics, acoustic quantification of fluxes, biogeochemistry effects, pH effects, phosphorus behaviour, detection using pCO2 sensors, AUV mapping, modelling, microorganism and benthic macrofauna responses, baseline and monitoring strategies, and social science aspects. The papers are now available on www.sciencedirect.com (some are open access also).
The project reached two broad conclusions. Firstly, environmental impacts from small scale leakage will be minimal and not ecologically significant. In the unlikely event of larger leaks, impact could be locally more significant. Secondly, detection of small scale leakage and monitoring of impact will be challenging due to the complexity of CO2 flows and ecosystem heterogeneity but is possible given development of existing tools, monitoring strategies and a comprehensive understanding of natural variability.
The QICs results will be further discussed at our Environmental Network and Risk Management Network combined meeting in September at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre. For more information on this meeting see http://www.ieaghg.org/networks/environmental-impacts-of-CO2-storage .
The QICS project has made an extremely significant contribution to the international knowledge-base on the environmental aspects of CO2 geological storage offshore. I also find its results and conclusions are reassuring, in terms of the scale of impacts, the rate of recovery, and the monitoring capabilities. Good work by all involved, and good to see so much shared from this project in a peer-reviewed journal for all to see and use.
Now that we are fully settled in our new premises with a good IT system and internet connections, we launched our webinar series. We held our first webinar on Monday which went ahead without any serious technical glitches, unlike the trial runs we had!!
Several years ago our members changed our report retention policy to make our reports free to all, rather than keep them to our members only. So we happily shook off the mantle of being some secret like society and that means we can also report on them by webinar.
We undertake about a dozen studies a year and like to “get them out there” so to speak, to the benefit of the broader CCS community. Our plan is to report on some 6 or so key reports each year that we and our members think will have a good impact from being shared more widely. We will also cluster some reports with common themes and report on the results from a series of studies in cases as well.
The first webinar was given by Stanley Santos who gave his view of the issues pertaining to CCS implementation in the process industries. He has highlighted the following points:
- The importance of CCS in the reduction of CO2 emissions from energy intensive to meet the 450ppm or 2DS scenario.
- Increasing the process efficiency is essential to any success of CCS deployment.
- Early deployment of CCS in industry is now on-going enabled by the assistance of government support.
- Future growth in CCS in industry should address the market competitiveness issue.
- CO2 capture and utilisation or CCU is emerging as a key topic. But making fuels from industrial CO2 only transfer the emission from one sector to another.
Click here to view the recording of the webinar
We were very pleased by the number of registrants we received for our first airing of our work and we received a number of questions that we will respond to online. Quite a lot of comments focused on the issue of CO2 recycle so it seems appropriate for IEAGHG to suggest to its members a study or review on this topic.
The next topic in the series will be Bio-CCS and will be based on a review paper my colleague Jasmin Kemper has written for the Special Issue of the Journal on Greenhouse Gas Control which provides an update on progress made in CCS research since the IPCC Special report came out in 2005.
The IPCC has just published its ‘Synthesis Report’ of its 5th Assessment Report, the most comprehensive assessment of climate change yet undertaken. Much will be written and said about these, but just a quick few comments here.
This Synthesis Report brings together the three underlying reports already published on the Science, Impacts and Adaptation, and Mitigation, and so aims to provide a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change, produced by many hundreds of scientists. You will have most likely seen the key messages in the news media, including:
- Human influence on the climate system is clear
- The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts
- We have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future
- Energy production remains the primary driver of GHG emissions
- The window for action to limit temperature rise to 2C is rapidly closing
- Ambitious mitigation Is affordable
- Unmitigated climate change would create increasing risks to economic growth
The report presents its analyses in terms of risks. The risks of climate change and its impacts are immense and should be of great concern to all. The report also examines pathways to reduce the risks, by mitigation of emissions and by adaptation. For example one headline-grabbing message is that fossil energy without CCS should be phased out by 2100. The challenge is great, but the risks and costs of not tackling climate change are far greater.
In terms of CCS, its importance cannot be hidden, both for reducing emissions from fossil fuels and also for combining with bioenergy to take CO2 out of the atmosphere (BECCS or BioCCS). The importance of CCS jumps out of table SPM2 (Table 3.2 in full report) where their analysis shows that removing CCS from the mix will increase mitigation costs by a massive 138%, and may not achieve a 450ppm scenario at all. This is by far the highest increase from any of the technologies analysed (bioenergy, wind, solar, nuclear). “Note that many models cannot reach concentrations of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100 in the absence of CCS“. So we really do need CCS in the portfolio of low carbon energy technologies.
CCS also has benefits for the fossil fuel producers, where the report points out that the availability of CCS would reduce the adverse effects of mitigation policies on the value of fossil fuel assets.
IEAGHG provided input to the Synthesis Report in relation to CCS and this appears to have been take on.
There is much to be drawn out of these comprehensive reports, which are available at http://www.ipcc.ch/ .
Biomass use for energy production in processes such as combustion and gasification, and its use to produce biofuels such as bioethanol, results in CO2 emissions. If carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is applied to these emissions, because the CO2 is recently taken-up by the biomass from the atmosphere, then actual CO2 removal from the atmosphere can take place. This is referred to as ‘negative emissions’. At present there is only one technology which may be able to be deployed at the required scale – biomass with CCS (bio-CCS or BECCS).
There is a need for analysis of the options for correctly accounting, reporting and rewarding all emissions relating to bio-CCS, and of ways of including it in emissions trading schemes (ETS) to appropriately recognise its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction performance. IEAGHG commissioned this analysis to Carbon Counts Company (UK) Ltd.
Key messages from the report:
- Most schemes at least recognise negative emissions from bio-CCS by either allowing for net-back accounting on a portfolio level (“pooling”) or the generation of credits (“offsetting”).
- Regional cap-and-trade schemes generally do not recognise negative emissions from bio-CCS. However, the architecture of most schemes would allow for either pooling or offsetting if the regulating bodies implement these methods in the schemes.
- Incentivising bio-CCS remains a challenge, due to the baseline of many schemes. Currently, there is a debate about whether bio-CCS delivers a double dividend for emissions abatement and thus should receive double credits.
- Land use change (LUC) is a big concern. Especially in developing countries “carbon leakage” is likely to occur. Some schemes might accelerate forest clearing in these countries. The opposite can happen as well, i.e. generation of more forest plantation due to increased demand. Low carbon fuel standards (LCFSs) include detailed GHG accounting rules for calculating upstream emissions and also consider LUC effects to some extent.
- Regulating bodies in the EU and US are currently discussing how to address the sustainability concerns around bio-CCS, including the parity of treatment between fossil and biogenic CO2. This broader discussion will likely initiate a complex political process.
This report develops scenarios for CO2 storage development in the Southern North Sea Basin to compare first-come, first-served and managed approaches to CO2 storage site licensing. The report describes the benefits and consequences of these broad strategies for the pore space owner and the operator, and considers current approached to managing offshore and onshore storage resources (in a range of jurisdictions).
This IEAGHG study was funded by the Global CCS Institute and contracted out to the British Geological Survey (BGS).
The report details potential sub-surface pressure increases and brine displacement as a result of CO2 injection; UK policy and regulations for CO2 storage development; potential surface and subsurface interactions between two theoretical case studies in the UK; CO2 storage permitting in the Netherlands; CO2 storage in Australia; the role of CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in Texas, USA; and managing the pore space in Alberta, Canada.
Key Messages from the Report
- There are many potential competing users of the surface and subsurface in both onshore and offshore environments
- There are various different approaches to storage management, all of which are highly dependent on the jurisdiction involved
- Most jurisdictions currently work under a ‘first-come, first-served’ approach
- Management of storage on a first-come, first-served basis is likely to be sustainable in the short to medium term
- Pressure increases do not always result in detrimental effects, but pressure responses in open storage sites should be the focus of a detailed assessment in all cases
- The operator and regulator must understand the consequences of a pressure increase over an area much larger than the extent of the CO2 plume itself
- The main benefit of a first-come, first-served approach is that the operator has the final decision on where to develop CO2 storage
- The first-come, first-served approach should work for multiple-stacked sites
- Potential disadvantages of the first-come, first-served approach include possible reduced storage capacities, difficulties for monitoring and a lack of regional storage optimisation with stranded sources.