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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Water Challenges for Geologic Carbon Capture and Sequestration


Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) has been proposed as a means to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the continued use of fossil fuels. For geologic sequestration, the carbon dioxide is captured from large point sources (e.g., power plants or other industrial sources), transported to the injection site and injected into deep geological formations for storage. This will produce new water challenges, such as the amount of water used in energy resource development and utilization and the “capture penalty” for water use. At depth, brine displacement within formations, storage reservoir pressure increases resulting from injection, and leakage are potential concerns. Potential impacts range from increasing water demand for capture to contamination of groundwater through leakage or brine displacement. Understanding these potential impacts and the conditions under which they arise informs the design and implementation of appropriate monitoring and controls, important both for assurance of environmental safety and for accounting purposes. Potential benefits also exist, such as co-production and treatment of water to both offset reservoir pressure increase and to provide local water for beneficial use.

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