Green New Deal News

University of Houston to aid southern states in carbon-saving research funded by DOE grant

University of Houston researchers will collaborate with the Southern States Energy Board, an organization of governors and legislators from southern states, to aid in deploying carbon-reducing technologies in the oil and gas industry.

UH’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy and the Southern States Energy Board will research and collaborate on taking carbon capture, utilization and storage technology to an industrial scale. The work will be funded by a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to the Southern States Energy Board, which aims to influence energy policies, programs and technologies.

Carbon capture and storage is considered a promising technology that could help to slow the pace of climate change, especially in the oil and gas industry, but has yet to be deployed on a large scale. One of the major challenges has been creating a market for the captured carbon dioxide.

In addition to research, UH and the Southern States Energy Board will try to facilitate connections between industry, policymakers and scientists to deploy the carbon-saving technology.

UH’s carbon management research center will work on business analysis, policy recommendations and legal frameworks of carbon capture, utilization and storage. The center also will act as a hub for public and private partnerships to figure out how to scale up that technology.

“To actually get it broadly deployed into the marketplace requires another level of activity,” said Charles McConnell, executive director for carbon management and energy sustainability at UH. “All of the things that really take it beyond, if you will, a science project, and turn it into real life on a commercial scale.”

The university’s carbon management research center was launched in 2019 and funded by a $500,000 university seed grant over two years while also relying on donations from energy companies. The center aids the oil and gas industry in reducing its carbon footprint and finding commercial uses and markets for carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

McConnell said that investing in and commercializing carbon capture, utilization and storage technology is critical to meeting the global challenge of reducing emissions enough to slow the effects of global warming in line with the goals of the Paris Accord, the international climate agreement signed in 2016.

“It’s important to accelerate deployment of renewables, but simply accelerating renewables will not solve the problem (of climate change),” McConnell said. “We have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to get at the emissions equation as soon as possible.”