Strategically planning safe and sustainable routes for transportation of CO2 from where it is captured to where it can be stored underground or converted into other products is a critical priority in achieving a greenhouse gas (GHG)-neutral economy by 2050. NETL has responded to that challenge by creating an expansive and accessible Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Pipeline Route Planning Database to guide routing decisions and increase transportation safety.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) has been working with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to ensure a safe and reliable CO2 transport network.
In support of that effort, NETL has identified technical gaps, prioritized research needs, and developed tools to facilitate and optimize a robust, national-scale CO2 transportation infrastructure. The near-term goal for 2030 is to expand the nation’s capability to transport 65 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The long-term goal for 2050 is to ensure the capability to transport 1 gigaton of CO2 per year.
“Routing of pipelines, trains, and other infrastructure to facilitate CO2 transport depends on being able to evaluate a variety of regulatory, topographic, and potential risk variables,” NETL researcher Jennifer Bauer explained. “These complex systems require considerable investments and time to plan and complete; making it paramount that the best set of available information is utilized when planning and developing these systems.”
She added that social, environmental, and energy justice variables, such as disadvantaged communities or areas with higher likelihoods of natural disasters, are also of special concern when strategically planning safe and sustainable transport routes.
NETL tackled the issues by creating a database that provides a curated compilation of critical decision factors, such as slope, public and energy infrastructure, and ground cover that provide planners with information about areas that are favorable for routing. The database also includes several novel data sets using federal and state legislation to understand regulations, incentives, and restrictions on transport.
The CCS Pipeline Route Planning Database, available through NETL's Energy Data eXchange (EDX®), provides a comprehensive, national, big data resource to accelerate the country's energy transition. With more than 90 gigabytes of spatial data, arranged in more than 40 data layers, and millions of individual features, the publicly available database provides critical insights into the complex social, environmental and regulatory variables that will be encountered during CCS deployment projects.
Bauer said the database supports NETL's ongoing work to develop a Smart Route Planning Tool, which will use machine learning algorithms to identify optimal routes for CO2 transport that are not only technically viable but also socially and environmentally responsible.
NETL drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.