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Carbon Capture a Tool to Address Cause of Climate Change

October 27, 2021 12:00 AM

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​Efforts to slow or stop global warming involve many strategies working together.

One strategy is to counterbalance carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to climate change by drawing an equal amount of carbon out of the atmosphere, such as through planting trees.

Another tool is carbon capture utilization and storage, which removes CO2 at the source -- industry and fossil-fuel-burning power plants -- before emissions have the chance to enter the atmosphere and cause warming effects.

Experts agree that carbon capture and storage will be a vital component of addressing climate change due to the large storage volumes it offers relative to some of the other approaches.

DCNR’s Role in Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

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DCNR has been engaged on the topic of carbon capture utilization and storage for nearly 20 years.

During this time, work by DCNR’s Bureau of Geological Survey, which seeks to further our understanding of the state’s geologic resources, has included:

  • Assessments of numerous underground geologic resources that have potential to serve as reservoirs where carbon dioxide could be safely stored;
  • Case study evaluations of existing oil fields where CO2-enhanced recovery efforts may be employed; and 
  • Participation in multi-state coalitions to guide seamless consideration of geologic storage options across state lines and throughout the Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Reports from these studies and partnerships are found on the DCNR website.

Opportunities for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage in Pennsylvania

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Technology exists and is already in use that captures carbon dioxide produced during power generation, industrial, and manufacturing processes.

The gas is then transported to sites where it can be reused, incorporated into beneficial use products, or disposed of underground where the geology is suitable.

Pennsylvania has geologic resources in the western and northern portions of the state that could be used for beneficial use or permanent storage of CO2. In some places, storage prospects exist at different depths, which offers potential stacked carbon storage opportunities.

The DCNR Bureau of Geological Survey continues to conduct applied research focused on proving and promoting geologic carbon storage in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

Multi-State Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Partnerships

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In October 2020, the Wolf Administration joined six other states in a commitment to establish and implement a carbon dioxide transport infrastructure, which would move CO2 to permanent storage or utilization locations via a regional network.

The programs supported by a memorandum of understanding, combined with other financial incentives, are intended to support industry and jobs in these states while reducing net carbon emissions.

The signatory states just released a Regional Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Transport Infrastructure Action Plan (PDF), which includes potential policies for states to consider to facilitate CO2 transport and storage that will benefit domestic energy production, reduce carbon emissions, and protect and create high-wage jobs.

Kris Carter, Pennsylvania’s Assistant State Geologist, emphasizes the need for the infrastructure plan, stating, “We know that adoption of low-carbon and renewable energy resources cannot alone decarbonize our economy by midcentury; integrated infrastructure that connects carbon sources with sinks is necessary to decarbonize the country’s industrial and power sectors.”

Pennsylvania has an inter-agency work group (DCNR, Department of Community and Economic Development, and Department of Environmental Protection) that is convening its first Advisory Committee meeting with external and private sector carbon capture utilization and storage stakeholders at the end of this week.

The group will consider the priorities and challenges for the commonwealth in attracting carbon capture utilization and storage projects and investments, and will provide this insight to both the inter-agency work group and a consortium of 20 northeastern states known as the Midwest Regional Carbon Initiative.

The Midwest Regional Carbon Initiative seeks to provide focused attention on carbon transport infrastructure and permanent storage efforts to support an economywide deployment of carbon capture utilization and storage in the midwest to northeastern United States.

DCNR will continue its participation in these multi-agency and state coalitions to meet and interject support for carbon capture utilization and storage solutions as we work to address climate change.

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