Carbon storage studies grapple with politics, geology

2013-09-05 07:45 by Anja Reitz

Thousands of feet underground below those cliffs may be clues for how carbon dioxide could be stored, or sequestered, near numerous sources of carbon dioxide emissions not far from the largest population center in the country. Carbon capture and storage is one solution the U.S. Department of Energy is researching for reducing the volume of climate change-fueling greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere from coal-fired power plants throughout the region.

It is here atop the Palisades at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory where earth and environmental sciences professor Paul Olsen and several other researchers are part of a national series of DOE-funded studies of subsurface rock formations that will help scientists find the best places to capture and store carbon dioxide.

These studies are just a few currently underway that attempt to help determine the feasibility of large-scale carbon sequestration efforts and are part of a national discussion grappling with the political, economic and technical challenges they pose. The projects are contributing to the emerging debate about the costs of storing carbon, the risks of leakage from carbon dioxide storage sites and whether the gas should be stored on land or offshore where it is more distant from population centers and possibly more secure — all issues that require more study.

The DOE's goal is bigger than just locating the underground rock formations that may have potential for storing carbon dioxide and learning how much carbon dioxide they can hold. The agency wants to prove that 99 percent of carbon dioxide injected underground will stay there permanently because there's wide concern that carbon dioxide stored beneath the ground could eventually leak into the atmosphere through wells or fractures in the subsurface rock, potentially wreaking havoc on air and water quality and negating some of the climate benefits of storing carbon dioxide in the first place.


Source: Climate Central by Bobby Magill, 3rd Sep 2013

Go back