Oregon State Legislation Concept: Supporting power-sector linked CDR pathways

Concept Summary

The following is a general outline of potential policy elements for new CDR support state legislation for Oregon.

Legislation Goal & Rationale

The legislation would establish financial incentives for CDR applications that also directly contribute to the decarbonization of Oregon’s electricity supply, as required under the state’s 2040 electricity sector net zero target, enacted as law in 2022 (HB 2021).

In aligning with the binding requirements of HB 2021, and leveraging the funding sources established by this existing law, it is essential that the forms of CDR that would receive financial support also relate closely to the law’s core objective of grid decarbonization in one or more of the following ways:

A. Supply low or zero carbon power
B. Reduce electricity loads through conservation and/or efficiency,
B. Mitigate the intermittency of renewable energy supply, in particular duck curve peak production of sources such as solar and wind.

CDR applications that meet this profile and are market ready at present include:

  • Power-BECCS - using waste biomass to generate power at combustion plants, and then capturing and sequestering CO2 geologically.
  • Biochar operations which also co-generate syn-gas which can be combusted for power production.

Emerging pre-commercial applications that could be eligible in the future include:

  • DAC applications that integrate with high electricity load industrial facilities for which cooling represents a large operational cost, and burden to the grid. These include data centers, and the greater Portland area is home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of facilities. The waste heat from such facilities can be absorbed from the indoor environment to lower cooling loads, and then used as the thermal input for an integrated DAC system. Oregon’s northern data center corridor is located right on top of the state’s considerable basalt formations, which can be developed to store carbon in mineral form.

Oregon’s Data Centers (red dots):
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Basalt formations (brown) in Oregon:
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Hooks: Existing factors in Oregon that could build a rationale for this policy.

There are several hooks in the Oregon context that the legislation could be designed around. These include:

  • The Clean Energy Targets Act (HB 2021) of 2021.SUMMARY
    Supported project example - Oregon utility powers up nation’s first large-scale wind, solar and battery facility - OPB

  • The Oregon Systems Benefit Charge. [SUMMARY]
    The SBC is a small fee applied to all ratepayer bills to fund infrastructure to decarbonize and modernize the state’s electricity system.

  • Oregon’s forest economy. Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of softwood timber, and is among the top 5 most forested states in the U.S. The forestry economy can provide significant feedstock to sustain large scale biochar and BECCS operations. SUMMARY. BLM summary of forestry biomass in Oregon.

  • Basalt The northern quarter of Oregon hosts one of the largest basalt formations in the United States, second only to Washington.

Key Government Organizations having influence over programs related to HB 2021 implementation.

Possible incentive structures for CDR

If select power-sector linked CDR applications are made eligible for SBC funding, incentives could include:

  • Upfront rebates/grants to pay down the capital cost of facility construction ,

  • Performance-based payments based based on k/mWh produced or avoided; or CO2/tonnes removed.

  • Tax credits.

Critical Questions:

  • How much $ needed in the form of above incentives to catalyze real CDR development? Would requirements be too rich for SBC funding?

  • What forms of support are already offered to RE and EE that could be the basis for incentive design for CDR? it’s best to use and adapt what already exists, rather than create something new and unfamiliar.

  • What is the current electricity mix in Oregon, and how far do they have to go reach net zero in 2040?

  • How does forest fire mitigation strategy relate to this goal? What volumes of waste forest clearing could be used for CDR?

  • Is syn-gas produced from biochar an eligible energy source for SBC funding?

Consider adding biogas upgrade and pyrolysis as an eligible technology.

Dairy gas, sewer gas, and landfill gas which are currently vented with extremely high CO2e can be upgraded to pipeline quality RNG which can provide 24/7 stable energy for industrial processes and can be distributed through existing pipelines. When that RNG arrives at a point-of-use, it can be pyrolyzed to clean-burning H2 and solid carbon black which has many industrial uses. This converts a source of methane emissions into a form of CDR while also providing stable 24/7 energy. The tech stack for all of this already exists.