Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California
Cover page of Research Roadmap of Technologies for Carbon Sequestration Alternatives

Research Roadmap of Technologies for Carbon Sequestration Alternatives


This research roadmap reviews existing and developing technologies for the use of carbon dioxide to provide recommendations to the California Energy Commission on the further development and implementation of such technologies. The roadmap reviews and categorizes the known usage technologies currently in use or under development. Uses of carbon dioxide range from well‐developed applications, such as enhanced oil recovery, to much less mature technologies, such as the use of carbon dioxide to produce fine chemicals, chemical feedstocks, working fluids for energy‐related technologies, and building materials.  This roadmap outlines various attributes of technologies such as technology maturity and readiness, the amount of carbon dioxide that would be consumed or used if fully deployed, technology gaps and barriers to full deployment, and the companies or organizations pursuing development of the technologies. This information is then used to highlight technological advances that are needed to overcome existing barriers to deployment. The report also reviews funding from federal sources and examines the potential for California to leverage synergistic federal funding to promote investment in and deployment of usage technologies within the state. This report also discusses the relevance of carbon dioxide usage technologies to California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.  

Cover page of California's Policy Approach to Develop Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration as a Mitigation Technology

California's Policy Approach to Develop Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration as a Mitigation Technology


While California has been at the forefront in adopting an aggressive climate change mitigation policy, it has taken a more measured and tentative approach toward creating an enabling policy and a regulatory framework for carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) technologies to contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. In 2005, Governor's Executive Order S-3-05 required that California reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In 2006, State Assembly Bill 32 codified the 2020 goal into law. In 2006, the California Legislature required two California agencies, the California Energy Commission and the Department of Conservation, to produce a report recommending how the state could facilitate commercial adoption of geologic sequestration from industrial sources. In 2010, three state agencies, the Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and Air Resources Board, convened the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel to make recommendations on specific policy, institutional, and regulatory changes necessary for California to enable commercial-scale carbon capture and geologic storage projects. Since 2006, several legislative bills have been introduced to establish regulatory authority, liability, and address pore space ownership issues, but none have made it into law. To meet the state's aggressive targets, especially to 2050 goal, will nevertheless require widespread adoption of CCUS technologies, according to studies by the California Council on Science and Technology. California contributes 7.5% of the total GHG emissions in the USA, or 1.8% of global GHG emissions. Over half of this currently is from point sources, but that proportion will increase as the state pursues electrification of the transportation sector. Trajectories of future GHG emissions growth suggest mitigation technologies must be implemented at rates on the order of 10–20 million tonnes of GHGs removed per year. The cap-and-trade system recently adopted in California to address the GHG reduction mandates of Assembly Bill 32 would seem to encourage pursuit CCUS technology projects by industrial emitters, but uncertainties preclude developing viable business cases. Uncertainty includes a lack of data on the costs of capture and storage and the lack of cap-and-trade accounting protocols for CCUS technologies. Although these protocols are scheduled to be developed, they will lag the initialization of cap-and-trade in 2012.

Cover page of Carbon Utilization to Meet California’s Climate Change Goals

Carbon Utilization to Meet California’s Climate Change Goals


We have developed a roadmap of CO2 utilization technologies for the California Energy Commission, a state government energy research, policy and permitting agency. The objective of the roadmap is to identify technologies that can make significant contributions to the state's 2020 and 2050 greenhouse gas (CHG) reduction goals. The state of California, under Assembly Bill 32, is committed to achieving reductions to 1990 GHG inventory levels by 2020 and, under Governor's Executive Order S-3-05, to 80 percent below those levels by 2050. The roadmap will guide future R&D investment and policy development for enabling carbon utilization technologies in California. For the purposes of the roadmap, we defined utilization as including technologies that produce a useful product from anthropogenic CO2, or through the processes of capture or sequestration of CO2. Technologies may contribute to reductions directly by permanently sequestering CO2, or indirectly by displacing the use of fossil fuels or more potent GHGs, such as CFCs. Technologies considered include: CO2 as a working fluid (including enhanced oil recovery (EOR), enhanced gas recovery (EGR), and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)), chemical feedstocks, biofuels, building materials, compressed gas energy storage, cushion gas for natural gas storage, and water and marketable minerals produced from displaced sequestration reservoir fluids. Evaluation criteria include technological maturity, potential market size, purity of CO2 required, commercialization time frame, environmental impacts, water use, data on energy-carbon life cycle analysis, and potential local economic benefits such as job creation. In addition, we evaluated the potential impact of non-technical barriers to commercial- scale adoption, such as the need for clear accounting protocols to provide incentives for CO2 producers to adopt these technologies to meet carbon standards. It may be possible to integrate different utilization approaches. For example, CO2 can be reduced to produce methanol or formic acid, which can be converted into fuels. Other processes to functionalize the carbon atom produce saleable chemicals, such as urea. By combining these two approaches, synthesis of even more chemicals directly from CO2 could be achieved. Widespread deployment of CO2 utilization technologies also depends on integration into planning of a future carbon- energy infrastructure. While single projects for some technologies, such as EOR, may create a demand comparable to the CO2 volumes generated by large sources, other technologies may have to be aggregated and/or combined with geologic sequestration to provide the volume of sequestration required. Deployment networks provide opportunities for cost optimization of pipeline infrastructure and for focusing public or private investment to facilitate commercialization. Currently in California, utilization projects are in the research, pilot, or permitting stages, including projects to combine urea production and EOR, produce high carbon-content building materials, and develop chemical and biological CO2 recycling technologies. None of these projects have yet reached the development stage necessary to demonstrate whether the technologies can contribute effectively to reducing California's CHG emissions.

Cover page of Assessment of the Barriers and Value of Applying CO2 Sequestration in California

Assessment of the Barriers and Value of Applying CO2 Sequestration in California


Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is an important technology for greenhouse gas reduction worldwide, and it may be a critical component to enable California to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. CCUS is a suite of different types of technologies used to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants or large industrial point sources and use this captured carbon dioxide for various purposes including storage, and injecting in rock formations deep underground. Technologies for measuring and monitoring carbon dioxide in the subsurface or in surface facilities also are part of this suite. Because of the complexity and diversity of CCUS technologies, there are numerous challenges to its deployment. The elements to undertaking a CCUS project include both technical and nontechnical—reducing the risks associated with these elements are essential to assuring CCUS is an effective and economic mitigation technology. The greatest risks are associated with the subsurface; thus, proper site characterization and monitoring are important to project success. This report reviews the findings from projects and activities in California, North America and worldwide and addresses the key questions California policy makers must answer to facilitate CCUS deployment effectively.

Cover page of A Contribution to the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB), Phase II

A Contribution to the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB), Phase II


DRAFT Final contract report prepared by CIEE for the California Energy Commission; contribution to WESTCARB Phase II. The West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) is one of seven partnerships that have been established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to evaluate carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies best suited for different regions of the country. The West Coast Region comprises Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia. Both terrestrial and geologic sequestration potential has been evaluated in the Region during Phase II of the project. A centralized Geographic Information System (GIS) database of stationary sources and geologic and terrestrial sink data was enhanced, incorporating relevant project data.

Cover page of Supplemental View of the California CCS Review Panel Recommendations

Supplemental View of the California CCS Review Panel Recommendations


This memorandum supplements and elaborates upon a handful of key issues that are included in the Panel’s report

Findings and Recommendations by the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel


Recognizing the importance of CCS for California’s industrial and electricity sectors, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Energy Commission (Energy Commission), and the Air Resources Board (ARB) created a CCS Review Panel in February 2010. The Panel, composed of experts from industry, trade groups, academia, and environmental organizations, was asked to: 1. Identify, discuss, and frame specific policies addressing the role of CCS technology in meeting the State’s energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies for 2020 and 2050; and 2. Support development of a legal/regulatory framework for permitting proposed CCS projects consistent with the State’s energy and environmental policy objectives. The Panel held five public meetings on April 22, June 2, August 18, October 21, and December 15, 2010,7 to arrive at its findings and recommendations. These meetings were designed to solicit input from technical experts and key stakeholders and to allow the Panel to deliberate in an open, public setting.