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The impact of geologic variability on capacity and cost estimates for storing CO2 in deep-saline aquifers

Eccles JK, L Pratson, RG Newell, RB Jackson
Energy Economics
Journal Volume/Pages: 

While numerous studies find that deep-saline sandstone aquifers in the United States could store many decades worth of the nation's current annual CO2 emissions, the likely cost of this storage (i.e. the cost of storage only and not capture and transport costs) has been harder to constrain. We use publicly available data of key reservoir properties to produce geo-referenced rasters of estimated storage capacity and cost for regions within 15 deep-saline sandstone aquifers in the United States. The rasters reveal the reservoir quality of these aquifers to be so variable that the cost estimates for storage span three orders of magnitude and average > $100/tonne CO2. However, when the cost and corresponding capacity estimates in the rasters are assembled into a marginal abatement cost curve (MACC), we find that ~ 75% of the estimated storage capacity could be available for < $2/tonne. Furthermore, ~ 80% of the total estimated storage capacity in the rasters is concentrated within just two of the aquifers—the Frio Formation along the Texas Gulf Coast, and the Mt. Simon Formation in the Michigan Basin, which together make up only ~ 20% of the areas analyzed. While our assessment is not comprehensive, the results suggest there should be an abundance of low-cost storage for CO2 in deep-saline aquifers, but a majority of this storage is likely to be concentrated within specific regions of a smaller number of these aquifers.

We model variations in cost and capacity of carbon storage in saline aquifers.
We find extensive variation (over several orders of magnitude) among and within basins.
Our supply curves suggest that more data and modeling is necessary to evaluate CCS.
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