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As the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has risen, so have the impacts from the resulting changes in climate, such as melting glaciers, rising sea level, more severe storms, longer duration droughts and wildfires. Consequently, demand for low-carbon energy sources is growing world-wide and will continue to grow in the foreseeable future in the global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. Among the strategies being employed to decarbonize the world’s economies, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is becoming widely accepted as a viable and necessary carbon containment option for power plants and other industrial plants to lower their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Significant advancements have been made in CCS technologies in recent years. Much of this experience is based on laboratory, pilot, and large-scale field projects that have validated key concepts and technologies.
To achieve rapid, widespread adoption of CCS, it is now imperative that we build upon these learnings to test, mature and prove CCS technologies at commercial scale.
There is a practical need to improve practices regarding how to safely, efficiently and cost-effectively characterize and permit carbon storage project site(s) that would store CO2 at a commercial-scale and to accomplish this throughout a variety of geologic and socio-economic settings across the U.S. The CarbonSAFE Initiative was launched in 2016 to fulfill this need. CarbonSAFE is also intended to expand deployment of carbon containment technologies and carbon dioxide capturing systems to launch a CCS industry that will ultimately help states meet economic policy goals such as job creation, and ecological restoration goals such as, for example, mitigation of catastrophic wildfires driven by long periods of drought. For CarbonSAFE, storage complexes should be characterized to demonstrate that they have both sufficient capacity and injectivity to support large scale CCS operations. Large scale is defined as having sufficient capacity to store a minimum of 50 million metric tons of CO2. For the purposes of this FOA, a storage complex consists of: (1) one or more storage reservoirs, with permeability and porosity that allow injection and storage of CO2; and (2) one or more low-permeability seals, which overlay the reservoir(s) and serve as barriers to upward migration of CO2. Injection rates may initially be as low as 100,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, but the project should be planned for future additional sources of CO2 to reach injection rates that achieve the storage of at least 50 million metric tons within 30 years. Carbon storage projects include both the surface facilities and the subsurface storage complex. Surface facilities can also include the pipeline infrastructure necessary to deliver CO2 to the storage facility. The project site that is being developed must extend over the entire volume of subsurface impacted by the injection. Project site(s) could potentially need to be monitored for several decades throughout the project’s injection and post-injection time frames.
The CarbonSAFE Initiative includes the following phases: Phase I: Integrated CCS Pre-Feasibility, Phase II: Storage Complex Feasibility, Phase III: Site Characterization and Permitting, and Phase IV: Construction. DE-FOA-0001584 (Phase I) and DE-FOA-0001450 (Phase II) were released in 2016 and 2017 resulting in the award of 13 Phase I projects and 6 Phase II projects, respectively. DE-FOA-0001999 (Phase III) was released in 2019 resulting in the award of 5 Phase III projects.