Headline: Workshop on LCA/TEA for CO2-based Products. Summary Report

On April 10th and 11th of 2019, a group of about 100 academics, industry experts, government officials, policymakers, and nonprofit representatives gathered at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to participate in a workshop focused on topics related to the creation of streamlined life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic assessment (TEA) guidelines for emerging carbon dioxide and monoxide (‘carbon’ in the following) capture and utilization (CCU) technologies. This report summarizes the key takeaways from this workshop. Carbon utilization differs from mere sequestration of carbon in geologic reservoirs as utilization yields a product with a level of economic value. This feature will ideally allow CCU technologies to be scaled quickly through commercialization. Scaling will make them an important component in the portfolio of tactics in the pursuit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Utilization is also representative of a circular economy and, depending on the process, may offer additional environmental benefits. CCU technologies are generally early in development and often have low technology readiness levels (TRLs). Thus, customized LCA and TEA guidelines are needed to offer direction on assessing their viability with a reasonable degree of certainty. Such guidelines are of course still required for technologies at all TRLs. The Global CO2 Initiative has developed an initial version of LCA and TEA guidelines specifically for use in evaluating CCU technologies. The participants find the LCA guidelines consistent with those produced by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the TEA guidelines consistent with those developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). However, they suggest additional work during the next few years as part of the “CO2nsistent” project – which is funded by the Global CO2 Initiative and EIT Climate-KIC – to create guidelines that will be more relevant to, and more comprehensible by, non-technical stakeholders than the existing guidelines while still fully addressing system boundaries and benchmark product comparison. This focus on clear communication of LCA and TEA results to audiences made up of non-technical stakeholders is of paramount importance, as these stakeholders are often involved in downstream decision-making processes about project investment.