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Ensuring Safe Carbon Capture and Storage in China

Tsinghua University is partnering with WRI to develop guidelines for China’s deployment of CCS technology.

Many have said that we can’t solve the climate change challenge without a solution for coal. Nowhere is this truer than in China, which already uses more coal than the U.S, the European Union and Japan combined. Many experts are now looking at carbon capture and storage---known as CCS---as the most likely solution.

Globally, regulations for how to safely store CO2 in geologic formations are emerging. In the past months we’ve seen proposed and enacted regulations at the national and state level in the European Union, the United States, and Australia. This type of regulation is a critical next step to CCS technology development, because sound environmental regulations are essential to safe and permanent CO2 storage in the subsurface.

Now an effort is underway to develop a similar framework in China itself. Tsinghua University has partnered with WRI to begin addressing how to ensure that CCS deployment in China meets environmental standards by drafting Guidelines for Safe and Effective CCS in China. The Tsinghua-WRI team will build capacity that supports regulatory development by engaging technical experts and other stakeholders in building consensus surrounding guidelines and best practices.

The project is modeled after a successful effort that WRI helped implement in the U.S., in which a diverse set of stakeholders developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for CCS projects. The Guidelines for Carbon Dioxide Capture, Transport, and Storage, with a focus on the U.S. CCS industry, are meant to guide full-scale demonstration and provide recommendations for ensuring that projects in the United States are conducted responsibly.

A Chinese version of the guidelines would foster better understanding in China of how to develop responsible CCS projects, and would provide information to guide decision-making as China addresses the climate-coal challenge. The guidelines will be especially useful to potential regulators, project operators, financers, insurers, and legal experts.

Tsinghua University has assembled a steering committee that includes China’s leading CCS experts. This team met for the first time at Tsinghua in December and began what will be a two-year effort.

Recently, the Chinese members of the steering committee traveled to the United States to tour some of the leading CCS research institutions and meeting with experts from the states who will also serve on the project’s steering committee. While in Illinois, the group had the opportunity to visit the first large-scale CCS injection well test in the United States.

This project is being funded with support from the U.S. Department of State under the Asia Pacific Partnership.

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