One approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere is to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from large industrial sources, such as power plants, refineries, cement plants, and to inject it into underground rock formations where it remains permanently stored. In addition, captured CO2 can be used as a feedstock or working fluid to create useful products. The set of technologies used in this approach is called carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). CIEE has been a pioneer in researching and deploying CCUS in the United States and abroad.

To better understand the risks and benefits and to move CCUS technology toward commercialization, the Department of Energy established seven partnerships throughout the United States. From 2005 to2015, CIEE managed major elements of the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) for the California Energy Commission, which was awarded the DOE contract.

WESTCARB performed research and field activities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington on geologic and terrestrial storage, including mapping geologic storage potential, drilling exploratory wells to learn more about sedimentary basins with high storage potential, and performing experiments to assess storage capacity and effects of land management practices on terrestrial CO2 storage. WESTCARB also pioneered studies of the applications of capture technologies to California’s fleet of natural gas fired power plants, the potential for utilization technologies to contribute to California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for 2020 and 2050, and contributed to the advancement of CCUS regulations and policy.

In California, WESTCARB provided the report required by Assembly Bill 1925 to make recommendations for facilitating CCUS adoption in the state, provided technical and logistical support to the California CCS Review Panel established by three state agencies to recommend a statutory and regulatory approach for CCUS, and provided expert testimony on CCUS legislation. CIEE continues to provide support to California as it integrates CCUS into the portfolio of technologies necessary to achieve the state’s climate change mitigation goals over the next 30 years.

WESTCARB also participated in knowledge-sharing activities internationally, including with Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, S. Korea, and Japan. The reports documenting WESTCARB research and activities can be found in the CIEE Library.

In 2016, CIEE, as part of BECI, began assisting the Mexican government in CCUS capacity development. CIEE is collaborating with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to establish a Master’s level degree program in CCUS and to build research relationships between Mexican faculty, UC and other institutions internationally. Mexico is committed to deploying CCUS to decarbonize its fossil fuel use for electricity generation and to provide CO2 for utilization in enhanced oil recovery. CIEE is playing a critical role in training the workforce Mexico needs to achieve these goals and in facilitating bilateral CCUS research collaborations.

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Research Roadmap for Carbon Sequestration Alternatives | 2012
Findings and Recommendations by the California Carbon and Storage Review Panel | 2012
Background Reports for the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel | 2010
California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel webpage
CIEE Library of WESTCARB Reports
West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) website