Luncheon – December 3, 2004

Title: Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in the Rockies – Project Status
Author: Genevieve Young, Colorado Geological Survey
Publication: The Outcrop, December 2004, p. 4

The Colorado Geological Survey is participating in the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration project. The primary goal is to determine an optimum strategy for minimizing greenhouse gas intensity in the southwest. The Southwest Partnership is led by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and comprises a large, diverse group of expert organizations and individuals specializing in carbon sequestration science and engineering, as well as public policy and outreach.

One of the primary objectives of the project is the characterization of the CO2 environment throughout the southwestern region of the United States. For the State of Colorado, this task has consisted of: (1) assembling CO2 source data, (2) assembling CO2 sink data, and (3) developing a public GIS database.

In 1999, CO2 emissions were more than 86 million short tons in Colorado and are projected to increase by 1.5 percent per year from 2002 to 2025 (EIA). Nearly 75 percent of these emissions result from activities in the utility and transportation sectors. Power generation in the state relies primarily on coal and as a result, 36 million short tons of CO2 or 42 percent of the total emissions in Colorado are emitted from power plants in the utility sector. These stationary point sources afford the possibility of capture and separation of CO2 for transport to and storage at nearby “sinks.”

Although CO2 sink potential is widely distributed across the state, data collection has focused on seven primary study areas. These areas are defined based on the maximum diversity in potential sequestration options within relatively close proximity to CO2 sources; that is, within a 30- to 40-mile radial distance of one or more power plants. Utilizing both geologic and mineralization options, the preliminary forecast for possible CO2 sequestration within the seven primary study areas exceeds 150 billion tons. With the availability of suitable technology, these areas may have the potential to provide several hundred years of carbon storage based on 1999 emission levels.

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