MVA & Risk Analysis, Policy, Business & Law

CO2 MVA & Risk Analysis

Public doubts over safety and accountability of CCUS have already hampered its introduction. In 2006, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi failed to sanction geological storage due to political uncertainties. Thus, to gain the trust of the public at large, CCUS research will need to focus on verification and accounting.

In recognition of the importance of monitoring and verification, the Department of Energy has set ambitious goals for CO2 retention, demanding strict accounting standards for storage inventories. Indeed, DOE’s target exceeds the accuracy taken for granted in day-to-day transactions like the purchase of gasoline. While DOE demands 1% accuracy in the inventory mass balance, gasoline pumps, which are usually not temperature compensated, may stray by several percent from the actual mass balance (Suiter, 2007).

However, injection measurements are far easier than accurate inventories of the CO2 stored in the reservoir. Methods that can create such an inventory without having to rely on a historic record of injections and a continuous observation of potential leak paths would be highly preferable. There are a number of dynamic effects that make accurate accounting of the CO2 difficult.  For example, it is possible for CO2 to migrate out of the storage reservoir.  Whether or not this leads to actual leakage is difficult to determine. The relatively high background of CO2 in the atmosphere and soil, coupled with seasonal fluctuations in CO2 fluxes, make accurate detection of slow leaks difficult.  Chemical conversion and dissolution of CO2 further complicate a full accounting.

It is therefore our concern that the adoption of CCUS will fail, not because the procedure is unsafe or unreliable, but because it is not yet possible to independently and objectively determine the inventory of CO2 stored.  Unless accounting schemes can be developed that are able to measure the total amount of injected carbon from first principles without having to trust prior observations, the public will, quite rightly, remain skeptical. There are enormous financial stakes involved in reservoir construction and maintenance. It is this concern which makes it necessary to develop an inventory tool that will allow an independent and accurate accounting of the injected carbon.

The RCN-CCUS aims to address these issues on MVA as well as risk analysis methods via transdisciplinary collaborations among participants.

Policy, Business & Law

Any environmental mitigation technology would not be deployed without a regulatory system, and without the existing technologies these regulatory systems would be meaningless. Thus, it is important for policy and law makers to understand the current research and development status of CCUS technologies. CCUS will not be fully employed if there is no global agreement, and thus, in-depth discussions among global participants will be important. The RCN-CCUS aims to investigate these issues for both USA and other participating countries and learn from each other’s experience, since the selection of CCUS technologies is often location-specific.

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