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WRI Launches New CCS Regulatory Matrix

This story was co-authored with Viviane Romeiro, an intern with WRI's CCS team.

WRI has recently launched a new online tool that compares Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) regulations, standards, and best practice guidelines.

Industry has been exploring CCS as an option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants for several years, but so far it remains at a demonstration level. To reach the next stage of deployment, it must be tried at scale on different types of power or other industrial plants, and in different geographic regions using suitable geologic reservoirs. Currently, there are 74 projects in process, of which only eight are operational, according to the Global CCS Institute. With a lack of strong carbon policies, along with a range of other issues outlined below, CCS has lost momentum in recent years and demonstration projects are proving hard to see through. The table below provides a snapshot of why CCS projects worldwide are being postponed or cancelled.

ReasonDetailExample
CostRate payers are unable to assume an increased cost of electricity; Industry or industry shareholders might describe this as an inability to pass on the cost of the demonstration to the rate payers.US: Mountaineer (American Electric Power)
Failure to raise the necessary cost share for construction and/or operation and maintenance. US: FutureGen 1.0 (companies involved in project withdrew)
The project operator wants the period of liability after CO2 storage site closure reduced from 30 to 20 years.Germany: Jänschwalde (Vattenfall)
TechnicalSite lacks the necessary geologic properties to ensure secure storage or to accommodate the volume of CO2 planned.Australia: Kwinana (Hydrogen Energy)
Timing of development of geologic storage site does not match with timing and plans for CO2 capture at the industrial facility.Possible projects in North Sea
Opposition or lack of support from the local community.See Guidelines for Community Engagement for best practices for government, communities and industry in engaging those who may be affected by a CCS project.The Netherlands: Barendrecht (Shell)
Lack of government funding Not commercially viable without public backing.UK: Longannet Power Station (Scottish Power, Royal Dutch Shell and National Grid)

However, there are some demonstrations that are moving forward, especially where related regulations are in place. If CCS projects do move forward, it will be important to ensure that environmental, health and safety regulations are in place to protect people, ecosystems and underground drinking water.

Last week, the British Government announced a new investment for CCS of more than £1 billion (or U.S. $1.59 billion) in public funds to design the first workable demonstration project in the UK. This could signal ongoing international engagement in CCS deployment. If CCS regains its momentum, it will be important to ensure that CCS guidelines and regulatory frameworks are in place to scale up projects, while protecting the environment and communities involved.

In developing appropriate regulations, it is essential to get the details right. WRI has developed a list of key criteria that should influence the outcome of CCS projects from social and environmental perspectives. We then analyzed some of the most well-developed international regulations according to how they’ve addressed these issues. The result of this work is available in the new online regulatory matrix.

The CCS Regulatory Matrix

The tool is designed to enable decision-makers (regulators, lawmakers, or industry representatives) to quickly see how different frameworks deal with key issues, like site selection, characterization requirements and long-term liability.

The matrix includes comparisons drawn from the following frameworks:

The matrix is designed to allow a user to select a regulatory framework or set of guidelines and compare it with another. So, for example, you can look at the E.U. Directive 2009/31/EC and EPA’s Class VI Regulations, and quickly scrutinize the language in the regulations to see how they dealt with a specific CCS issue.

Over time, we plan to update the matrix to include other national regulations, such as the Australian Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act, and international best practice standards, such as the Canadian Standard Association on Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide CSA Z741-11(a final version is expected Summer 2012).

By highlighting the similarities and differences among frameworks, we hope to help define how CCS regulations can be improved and provide transparent, easy-to-access information regarding existing regulations. It is important to note that the tool is not an attempt to foster CCS deployment. Instead, it aims to provide information that drives the development of good regulatory frameworks for CCS, which we have identified as a necessary requirement for demonstrations.

Finally, the matrix is a dynamic tool, and we want it to evolve with the changing regulatory landscape. We welcome comments or feedback that will improve our analysis.

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