Article by Volker Sick (Global CO2 Initiative) and Tim Skone (National Energy Technology Laboratory)
Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), a set of tools that can help address excess CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and which can help mitigate climate change effects, is rapidly receiving increasing attention worldwide as a valuable commercial opportunity. Promoting research, development, and commercialization of CCUS technologies requires assessing the environmental and economic opportunities and risks. These opportunities and risks can be quantified by life cycle assessments (LCAs) and techno-economic assessments (TEAs). For consistent conduct and transparent reporting, a common framework is needed. The mission of the International Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) Assessment Harmonization Group is to create this common framework. We are bringing together related efforts in order to analyze and eliminate differences where possible.
- The Global CO2 Initiative’s coordination, guidance, and funding, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC produced the “Techno-Economic Assessment & Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization” developed by the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, TU Berlin, RWTH Aachen, and the University of Sheffield.
- National Energy Technology Laboratory conducts TEAs and LCAs of CCUS operations for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture and Carbon Utilization Programs using NETL’s Carbon Dioxide Utilization Life Cycle Analysis Guidance Toolkit and Quality Guidelines for Energy System Studies.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides guidance for research and development of CO2 utilization technologies, especially within the context of Power-to-X, by conducting TEAs, LCAs, and risk assessments.
- Argonne National Laboratory conducts LCAs of CCU and Carbon Capture and Storage with its GREET LCA model as well as TEAs of CO2 electro-fuels production and renewable electricity.
- National Research Council of Canada has developed a framework to assess technical, economic and environmental performance of emerging CO2 conversion technologies.
Today, we are announcing a new resource, accessible to everyone, explaining LCAs and TEAs, and providing guidance on how to conduct them. This web-based resource has been developed and assembled by the International CCU Assessment Harmonization Group and is hosted by the Global CO2 Initiative.
Evaluation tools, such as Techno-economic Analysis and Life Cycle Analysis, are the few ways non-technical stakeholders can meaningfully communicate with the subject matter experts. This non-technical classification encompasses policymakers and funding agencies like the Department of Energy, but also those in other sectors such as finance, advocacy, philanthropy, local government, and perhaps most importantly— the public.
Using evaluation tools that are ‘harmonized,’ or collaboratively discussed by the leading institutions, affords greater confidence in every type of decision. It’s crucial to build groups like this early in order to set us on a path for sustainable progress.Amishi Kumar, FE Program Manager for Carbon Utilization at the U.S. Department of Energy