Energy Policy, the premier international journal in energy politics and economics, has published an article by University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Lincoln Davies and Wallace Stegner Fellows Kirsten Uchitel and John Ruple. The team completed their research as part of their work on a grant from the United States Department of Energy in conjunction with the University of Utah’s Institute for Clean and Secure Energy.
The article, “Understanding Barriers to Commercial-Scale Carbon Capture and Sequestration in the United States: An Empirical Assessment,” concludes that this potentially crucial climate change mitigation tool still faces significant hurdles in the United States. Carbon capture and sequestration, or “CCS,” refers to the long-term storage of carbon dioxide emissions underground. Many believe that CCS is essential to combating climate change, especially if coal remains part of the nation’s energy system. Using an anonymous opinion survey completed by 229 CCS experts, Davies, Uchitel, and Ruple identified four primary barriers to CCS commercialization: (1) cost and cost recovery, (2) lack of a price signal or financial incentive to use CCS, (3) long-term liability risks, and (4) lack of a comprehensive regulatory regime.
The article finds that there is empirical support for previous studies suggesting that CCS cost and liability risks are primary barriers to the technology. “Our study sheds light on the most critical roadblocks that CCS faces in the United States today,” said Professor Lincoln Davies. “One important finding of our study is that the CCS industry appears to crave comprehensive rather than piecemeal regulation. That is something scholars haven’t really been talking about before.”
The survey results show that the CCS community sees fragmented regulation as one of the most significant barriers to CCS deployment. Specifically, industry is united in its preference for a federal regulatory floor that is subject to state-level administration and sensitive to local conditions. CCS experts also share broad confidence in the technology’s readiness, despite continued calls for commercial-scale demonstration projects before CCS is widely deployed.