US Department of Energy
US Department of Energy

NETL’s 2015 Carbon Storage Atlas Shows Increase in U.S. CO2 Storage Potential


Source: US Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) today released the fifth edition of the Carbon Storage Atlas (Atlas V), which shows prospective carbon dioxide (CO2) storage resources of at least 2,600 billion metric tons – an increase over the findings of the 2012 Atlas.

Atlas V is a coordinated update of carbon storage resources, activities, and large-scale field projects in the United States. It showcases the progress that NETL scientists and engineers have made with their partners toward wide-scale deployment of carbon storage technologies. It also underscores the importance of the research partnerships and projects that are increasing our understanding of safe, permanent geologic storage of CO2.

Atlas V highlights potential CO2 storage resources in saline formations, oil and natural gas reservoirs, and unmineable coal seams. This edition also presents a detailed look at the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Initiative’s large-scale field projects. These large-scale field projects are uniquely tailored to address technical and non-technical challenges within their respective regions, an approach which has proved to be highly effective.

For each large-scale field project, Atlas V provides a summary of approaches taken, technologies validated, and lessons learned in carrying out key aspects of a CCS project: site characterization; risk assessment; simulation and modeling; monitoring, verification, accounting, and assessment; site operations; and public outreach. These efforts collectively contribute to the development of regional carbon management plans. They also aid in regulatory development, as well as help determine appropriate infrastructure for CCS commercialization in each region.

The refined CO2 storage estimate of 2,600 billion metric tons reported in Atlas V represents an increase over the 2,380 billion metric tons reported in the previous edition, The United States 2012 Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas (Atlas IV). The increase is a result of improved accuracy and precision in storage resource calculations, additional information from formation studies, and refinement of storage efficiency.

This vast resource has the potential to store hundreds of years’ worth of industrial greenhouse gas emissions, permanently preventing their release into the atmosphere. Capturing CO2 emissions from large power and industrial plants and storing it in deep geologic formations is a key element in national efforts to mitigate climate change. Of particular importance for U.S. energy security is Atlas V’s finding that approximately 230 billion metric tons of CO2 could be stored in depleted oil and natural gas fields. This storage estimate equates to several decades’ worth of emissions from stationary sources with the added benefit of enhancing oil and gas recovery.

For more than a decade, Regional Partnerships have been investigating the best possible CO2 storage sites. Atlas V includes input from the more than 400 organizations in 43 states and four Canadian provinces that make up DOE’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships. The Atlas also incorporates valuable information from ten storage site characterization projects, which were funded by the Recovery Act.

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