Carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies (CCUS) aim to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) when it is generated and before the CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The captured CO2 is subsequently stored or re-used in ways that do not involve putting it back in the air. CCUS technologies seem promising in theory, but uptake has been sluggish due to a variety of factors, including high upfront costs, poorly developed markets for captured CO2, and policies that provide inadequate incentives for adoption.
This grant funds a multidisciplinary team of scholars, led by Sheila Olmstead, from the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Wyoming to launch four studies designed to address a range of issues related to CCUS. In the first, the project team will analyze and compare various policy interventions aimed at mitigating the high up-front costs of installing CCUS systems. In the second, the team will identify and analyze the frictions that inhibit coordination between power plant owners, pipeline developers, geologic storage managers, and CO2 utilization customers, and it will analyze the costs and benefits of different policies to ease those frictions. Third, the team will examine current tax policies designed to incentivize CCUS update and compare their efficacy to other possible policies, like a carbon tax or emissions standards. Fourth, the team will model the potential impacts of increased adoption of CCUS across different regions, with a particular focus on the effects on underrepresented and marginalized populations.
In addition to their own research, the UT Austin and University of Wyoming teams will use grant funds to spur further research on these topics by holding an open call for projects to be undertaken by scholars at other institutions that will be supported through a small sub-award program. A final workshop will be held for all scholars involved over the course of the project to share methods and findings.