Research Focus Areas
West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB)
What is WESTCARB?
WESTCARB stands for West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership. Established in 2003, WESTCARB is one of seven regional partnerships created by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) to identify and validate regional opportunities for removing man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere. WESTCARB research is focused on carbon sequestration by either terrestrial sequestration or carbon capture and storage (CCS). The DOE combines WESTCARB's research findings with those of the other regional partnerships to provide an interactive National Carbon Explorer (NATCARB) that shows locations of major industrial sources of CO2 emissions and potential CO2 storage sites.
The WESTCARB partnership includes over 90 universities, researchers, government agencies, utilities, and members of the industrial sector. WESTCARB's territory includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
What are the different components of WESTCARB research?
WESTCARB research is focused on two forms of carbon sequestration: terrestrial sequestration and CCS. Terrestrial sequestration enhances natural processes that store CO2 in biomass and soil. CCS modifies industrial facilities to remove CO2 from process or exhaust gases for injection into secure geologic formations. Examples of industrial facilities that might utilize CCS are power plants, oil refineries, and cement plants. For additional information visit CO2 Capture, Transportation, and Geologic Storage.
There are three phases of WESTCARB research: Characterization (Phase I), Validation (Phase II), and Development (Phase III). Phase I involved studies of existing data to estimate carbon storage potential in the WESTCARB region. Phase II involved a small-scale demonstration project. Phase III involves further detailed characterization and outreach activities toward the deployment of large-volume carbon sequestration projects.
- Reduces amount of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.
- Improves air and environmental quality and reduces climate change impacts.
- Tests and verifies new carbon sequestration technologies for commercial application.
- Informs policymakers and regulators on technical considerations for carbon sequestration implementation.
- Provides public access to research results through contributions to regional, national, and international databases of information on carbon sequestration.
What is WESTCARB working on?
WESTCARB is conducting studies of the geologic storage potential in Arizona and also California's sedimentary basins and hydrocarbon pools. Below is a list of projects that are highlighted on the WESTCARB website. Visit WESTCARB for additional information.
- Arizona Utilities CO2 Storage Pilot
- Northern California CO2 Reduction Project
- Large-Volume CO2 Storage Capability Characterization
- Terrestrial Field Projects
What are some past accomplishments?
In 2010, WESTCARB members served as technical advisors to the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel. The California Energy Commission, California Air Resources Board, and California Public Utilities Commission created this panel of voluntary members from academic, government, environmental, and utility sectors. The panel reviewed information from WESTCARB members and the public to make recommendations on how to implement CCS projects in California. The panel released its Final Recommendations in January 2011, along with a Background Report that includes technical information provided by WESTCARB members.
In 2009, WESTCARB drilled a well near the Cholla Power Plant in Arizona. Although the geology in this well was found to be unsuitable for CO2 storage, WESTCARB learned that the geology in this area has great variations and that additional field data and research would be valuable. WESTCARB is pursuing other CCS projects in Arizona and California with potential industry partners.
For additional information, visit WESTCARB Geologic Reports.
Why is it important to California?
The largest stationary sources of CO2 emissions in California are power plants, refineries, and cement plants. Carbon sequestration would reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and help meet California's greenhouse emission reduction goals per Assembly Bill 32. Carbon sequestration also supports Senate Bill 1368 in reducing power plant emissions through geologic storage.
WESTCARB Contact at the California Energy Commission
Energy Systems Research
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS 43
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512
Phone: (916) 327-1370
Please put "WESTCARB Inquiry" in the subject line of your email.