Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Potential, Challenges, and Outlook

John Venezia
World Resources Institute
10 G Street NE, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20002


Without a major energy technology breakthrough, much of the world will likely continue to rely on relatively cheap and abundant coal to meet our energy needs. One way to use this coal while safeguarding the climate is through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants and other industrial processes, transporting it to suitable locations, and injecting it into deep underground geological formations for long-term storage.

However, significant challenges exist before these technologies and practices can be widely deployed in the U.S. and abroad. Incentives and policies will be needed to bring these technologies into the marketplace. Large-scale field projects are needed to prove that we have enough technical and institutional capacity to ensure safe, wide-scale deployment. While a large body of scientific and technical work is underway to overcome barriers to greater deployment of CCS, other policy and regulatory issues need greater attention before the technology can command public support and confidence. Regulatory frameworks will be necessary to govern siting and monitoring of CCS projects, and to establish the long-term liability for CO2. Finally, public acceptance is still uncertain, yet will be needed before these practices can move forward.

WRI has established a stakeholder partnership between business, government, NGOs, and other parties interested in CCS. We are in the process of developing guidelines for siting, monitoring, and long-term care of projects to ensure that CCS is done safely and effectively. With robust and aggressive guidelines for projects, public confidence in these practices can be gained. WRI is also developing a series of policy briefs to highlight some of the major issues that need to be resolved, such as public acceptability, use of federal lands, and long-term liability.