CCUS Could Help California Meet Its Green Goals

Renewable hydrogen: A game-changer for long-term storage?
October 28, 2020
Permitting Reform Key to Energy Infrastructure Development
November 6, 2020

Over the years, Energy Fairness has supported Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies. We’ve maintained that CCUS is absolutely critical for meeting carbon reduction goals while keeping electricity affordable and reliable. Fortunately, acclaimed academics are now echoing what we’ve been saying all along. 

According to a new report from the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and Stanford University, carbon capture technology could play a significant role in meeting California’s ambitious emission reduction goals. California’s geographical structure makes the state perfect for storing large amounts of carbon dioxide. How much? 60 million tons. That’s enough room to store the Golden State’s annual emissions from the electric sector for 1000 years. While California doesn’t currently have any operating CCUS plants, five different projects are in various planning development stages. 

So what’s the holdup with deploying CCUS technology in California? A large part of the problem lies with California’s unfair policies regarding CCUS development. CCUS technologies are not allowed to participate in the state’s CO2 cap and trade program. On top of that, CCUS projects in the state are heavily dependent on incentives, often making them uneconomical. It’ll take a policy signal from the Governor’s office in Sacramento to remedy these problems. For instance, an executive order supporting carbon capture technology could foster competition with other low carbon energy sources. 

CCUS could be an invaluable tool in helping California meet its aggressive 2045 carbon reduction targets. The EFI report found that CCUS could reduce emissions by as much as 15%. Also, incorporating 4.2 GW (1-gigawatt powers approximately 750,000 homes) of natural gas with CCUS would reduce the total solar and battery capacity needed on the system and save $750 million per year. 

Investing in CCUS technology is a much more pragmatic and innovative approach to meeting the Golden State’s aggressive carbon reduction goals,  much better than closing plants through regulatory fiat.

“In short, CCS in California — while not the silver bullet — could be a major contributor to meeting the state’s emissions reduction targets,” says Melanie Kenderdine, managing principal at EFI and co-lead of the report.

California has many miles to travel to meet its climate goals while keeping electricity reliable. CCUS could be an invaluable tool for getting the job done. Let’s hope California’s policymakers see the light on this potentially innovative technology.