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CarbonSafe Initiative

J-LOC1 Well at the Project Tundra site. EERC’s Project Tundra is two projects in one: 1) Divert flue gas then separate CO2 and 2) inject CO2 into the storage formation. Photo courtesy of UND, EERC DE-FE0031889

CarbonSAFE Overview:

The Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Initiative began in 2016 with the goal of addressing the key gaps on the critical path towards Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) deployment. Building upon the knowledge and experience of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships’ (RCSPs’) efforts, this initiative is performing identification and detailed characterization of geologic storage sites. The vision of CarbonSAFE is to understand the development of a CCS storage complex from the feasibility study until the point of injection through the following phases of project progress: Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Pre-Feasibility, Storage Complex Feasibility, Site Characterization and Permitting, and Construction.The CarbonSAFE Initiative will reduce technical risk, uncertainty, and the cost of commercial-scale saline storage projects. Results will improve the understanding of project screening, site selection, characterization, baseline monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) procedures, and information necessary to submit appropriate permit applications for such projects. 

The CarbonSAFE effort contributes to furthering the development and refinement of technologies and techniques critical to the characterization of potential 50+ million metric ton (MMT) storage complexes. Project research will provide insight into the integration of site characterization information into reservoir simulations and design of injection and monitoring strategies. The progress made by the CarbonSAFE Initiative will instill greater confidence that commercial-scale CCS projects can be integrated in a technically and economically feasible manner.

CarbonSAFE Infographic (Click to enlarge)
Locations of CarbonSAFE Integrated CCS Pre-Feasibility projects. Click to enlarge.

Pre-Feasibility projects conducted economic feasibility analyses for targeted sites under varying scenarios under Phase I. In addition, extensive regional data was collected, analyzed, and modeled; multiple storage sites and infrastructure were evaluated; and business plans for a variety of CCS scenarios were developed. Overall lessons learned from the pre-feasibility projects include the following:

  • CCS projects require strong collaborations and a business-focused strategy.
  • Strong host site support is critical.
  • Capture costs are a limiting factor for making CCS economical.
  • Stacked storage is feasible but may not be practical at every storage site.
  • Pressure management may be necessary to meet target rates and volumes.
  • Reservoir heterogeneity requires improved models and data to increase plume behavior accuracy.
Locations of CarbonSAFE Storage Complex Feasibility projects. Click to enlarge.

Six CarbonSAFE Storage Complex Feasibility projects performed work under Phase II. Research in the Storage Complex Feasibility projects focuses on one or more specific reservoirs within the defined storage complex, encompassing:

  • Data collection.
  • Geologic analysis.
  • Identification of contractual and regulatory requirements and plans to satisfy them.
  • Subsurface modeling to support geologic characterization, risk assessment, and monitoring.
  • Public outreach.

    Projects in this phase drill at least one characterization well and acquire geologic data from seismic surveys, core logs, and well tests. These projects evaluate initial reservoir characteristics to determine if the reservoir is suitable for 50+ MMT geologic storage, address technical and non-technical challenges that may arise, develop a risk assessment and CO2 management strategy for the project; and assist with the validation of National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) tools and other United States Department of Energy (DOE) tools.

Locations of the CarbonSAFE Site Characterization and CO2 Capture Assessment projects and the Carbon Capture Program’s Front End Engineering Design (FEED) Study projects. Click to enlarge.

The Site Characterization and CO2 Capture Assessment phase of CarbonSAFE began in 2020. Phase III entails the acquisition, analysis, and development of information to fully characterize a storage complex to demonstrate storage resources for commercial volumes of CO2 (a minimum of 50 MMT of CO2 within a 30-year period). This phase also involves the identification of a storage site(s) within the storage complex, as well as the preparation and submission of an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI permit to construct for each proposed injection well at the site(s). Projects identify and provide a pre-feasibility study of the commercial sources of anthropogenic CO2 and the necessary capture technology(ies) that can be used to provide the quality and quantity of CO2 needed. Once the UIC Class VI permit(s) to construct are submitted, additional activities include working with the regulators to satisfy their requirements until construction authorization is granted. Finally, this phase addresses pore/surface rights as needed, rights of way as needed, all other permitting processes and requirements (including National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] determination and issuance), liability relief, and finance agreements in support of the business model for eventual commercial operations.

Phase III.5: NEPA, Storage Development Plan and Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) Studies Only: Phase III.5 is intended for applicants who have completed most Phase III activities independent of DOE. It entails completion of  NEPA determination and issuance, preparing storage development plans, and conducting FEED studies before being considered for Phase IV. 

Subject to the availability of funding, the final phase of CarbonSAFE, Construction, will involve the drilling and completion of the injection and monitoring wells, completion of risk and mitigation plans, public engagement, and obtainment of authorization to inject..

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