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The Role of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage in California's Energy Future, Mar 23

The complete schedule for the semester is online at

. All talks may be viewed on our

Webviewing at UC Davis: 1065 Kemper Hall

Webviewing at UC Merced: SE1 100

Webviewing at UC Santa Cruz: SOE E2 Building, Room 506


Dr. Elizabeth Burton is the Technical Director of the DOE West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) and a project manager in Carbon Management at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She has worked in the field of carbon capture and storage for over 10 years, both as a researcher and as a technical consultant, in industry as well as in government. She has extensive experience at the federal and state level in providing technical consultation for energy policymakers, including as a team member in developing the Energy-Water Report to Congress and Energy-Water Roadmap, in leading the Assembly Bill 1925 effort at the Energy Commission to report to the California Legislature on recommendations as to how to facilitate commercial-scale CCS adoption in the state, and as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee to the California CCS Review Panel. She is the author or coauthor of over 100 published technical papers and a college textbook on oceanography. She received a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, a MS from the Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in Miami, and a B.S. from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.


Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a mechanism that captures CO2 from stationary sources, such as power plants and refineries, which account for about half of California’s CO2 emissions. The captured CO2 is then stored underground where it will not become a greenhouse gas contributor. Other uses for CO2 are being researched, but only enhanced oil recovery has been demonstrated at commercial scales. CCUS is being actively pursued in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australasia. The USA began CCUS activities in 2003 through the Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program: these seven partnerships cover different areas of the country reflecting the geologic, geographic and economic variations. The West Coast partnership, WESTCARB, stretches from Alaska to Arizona, including Hawaii and California. California has stringent emission standards to limit its greenhouse gas contribution, which by 2050 should be a fraction of 1990 levels, which gives a strong incentive to encourage industrial emitters to sequester their CO2 emissions.

WESTCARB, like other partnerships, was directed to provide an analysis of

CO2 point sources and their position relative to potential ‘sinks’, or geological basins that would have the capacity to store this gas indefinitely. WESTCARB was to undertake small scale pilot injection tests to validate the technology, then large volume injection tests to monitor the behaviour of CO2 underground. The western region has unique attributes not found in other partnership regions that has enriched our understanding of CCUS.

CCUS is a new endeavour in California in which the current regulatory, permitting and legal frameworks may require reassessment, for which WESTCARB is informing policy and regulatory deliberations. WESTCARB is keenly aware of the need to reach out and demonstrate technically the safe operation and stewardship of sequestration projects across the region.

In order for California to meet its electricity generation needs that do not compromise its greenhouse gas emission goals, CCUS will be a vital tool.

Commercially viable demonstration projects are needed for California energy future. Renewable power generation will be insufficient in the short to medium term.