A framework for environmental assessment of CO2 capture and storage systems

TitleA framework for environmental assessment of CO2 capture and storage systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsSathre, Roger, Mikhail Chester, Jennifer Cain, Eric R Masanet
Date Published01/2012
KeywordsCarbon capture and storage, Climate change mitigation, Envrionmental impacts, life-cycle assessment

Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is increasingly seen as a way for society to enjoy the benefits of fossil fuel energy sources while avoiding the climate disruption associated with fossil CO2 emissions. A decision to deploy CCS technology at scale should be based on robust information on its overall costs and benefits. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a framework for holistic assessment of the energy and environmental footprint of a system, and can provide crucial information to policy-makers, scientists, and engineers as they develop and deploy CCS systems. We identify seven key issues that should be considered to ensure that conclusions and recommendations from CCS LCA are robust: energy penalty, functional units, scale-up challenges, non-climate environmental impacts, uncertainty management, policy-making needs, and market effects. Several recent life-cycle studies have focused on detailed assessments of individual CCS technologies and applications. While such studies provide important data and information on technology performance, such case-specific data are inadequate to fully inform the decision making process. LCA should aim to describe the system-wide environmental implications of CCS deployment at scale, rather than a narrow analysis of technological performance of individual power plants.

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