Conference Dates

April 10-14, 2016


Two primary challenges for modern societies are to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is emitted to the atmosphere and to increase the penetration of renewable energy technologies into electricity systems. CO2-bulk energy storage (CO2-BES) is a CO2 capture and storage (CCS) approach that can address both of these challenges by using CO2 emitted from large point sources (e.g., fossil fuel power plants, cement manufacturers) that is sequestered in sedimentary basin geothermal resources to take power from, and deliver power to, electricity grids. Electricity can be generated by wind and solar energy technologies regardless of whether there is demand for that electricity because wind and sunlight are variable resources. When over-generation occurs, the excess electricity can be used to compress and inject CO2 into sedimentary basin geothermal resources. Electricity can then be dispatched when needed by producing the pressurized and geothermally-heated CO2 from the storage reservoir and converting the heat to electricity in a CO2-geothermal power plant. In this way, CO2-BES can time-shift excess electricity that is generated by wind and solar energy facilities to when there is demand for that electricity. This ability can increase the utilization of installed wind and solar energy capacity. Thus, CO2-BES can (1) directly reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by isolating them in porous and permeable subsurface reservoirs and (2) indirectly reduce CO2 emissions by displacing electricity from power plants that emit CO2 (e.g., fossil fuel plants) with electricity from wind and solar energy facilities. We present an approach to estimate the value of these direct and indirect benefits.

Our approach uses an optimization model that we developed to determine the cost-minimizing dispatch of electricity-generating facilities to meet diurnal demand in regional electricity systems. In our analysis, electricity can be generated by base load and variable load power plants, wind- and solar-energy technologies, and CO2-BES facilities. We varied prices on CO2 emissions (e.g., a CO2 emissions tax) in order to determine the optimal CO2-BES storage capacity for each CO2 price. This method allows us to assign a monetary value to the optimized energy storage capacity. We use time increments of one hour, during which we assume electricity generation and demand are constant. Initial results using hypothetical but realistic scenarios for electricity demand and electricity generation by solar energy technologies suggest that the optimal energy storage capacity of CO2-BES is sensitive to a range of CO2 prices. That is, a small increase in the price on CO2 emissions can cause substantial change in the optimal distribution of electricity generation and the energy storage capacity of CO2-BES. Thus, independent system operators (ISOs) could dispatch CO2-BES without needing additional ancillary service compensation schemes if CO2 emissions were modestly taxed.

This work was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation Sustainable Energy Pathways program (grant 1230691).