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Carbon Capture & Storage and its role in climate change mitigation


The International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted a webinar on the 11th September, focusing on the findings of their Energy Technology Perspectives report for 2015.  One of the topics covered was around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).  This topic had come up in the IGB Conference held in Singapore recently, and it seems to be more topical as Paris’ COP21 approaches.

CCS is the separation of CO2 from power generation or industrial processes.   This CO2 is then transported and permanently stored, possibly underground, or as part of a new chemical or substance.  The aim is to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere, or avoid allowing the CO2 to reach the atmosphere in the first place.



[Source – IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 presentation]


In their scenario where global warming is kept beneath a 2 degree increase threshold, the IEA’s model has CCS contributing 1/6 of CO2 emission reductions in 2050, and totalling 14% of cumulative reductions between 2015 and 2050.  Its role is therefore not insignificant.  The IEA has found that the inclusion of CCS is economically justifiable, given that the 2deg scenario would be approximately 40% more expensive to achieve if CCS is not included.

Most of the savings are expected to come from the power sector, but they also note that 45% of savings will come from industry.  Furthermore, it is expected that most of the focus will need to be in non-OECD countries.  70% of the total mass captured is expected to come from non-OECD countries, with China accounting for 1/3 of all CO2 captured between 2015 and 2050.

Total CO2 savings required for 2 degree scenario by region:


But with such a key role to play in mitigating climate change, the progress on projects, amounts spent, incorporation of CCS into industrial sectors has not been as advanced as expected by the IEA in their 2013 Roadmap.

In this they laid out seven actions in order to achieve the widespread application of CCS technologies.  These are below.  The IEA indicate that these are critical, particularly as many of their targets are aimed at 2020.

  • “Introduce financial support mechanisms for demonstration and early deployment of CCS to drive private financing of projects.
  • Implement policies that encourage storage exploration, characterisation and development for CCS projects.
  • Develop national laws and regulations as well as provisions for multilateral finance that effectively require new-build, base-load, fossil-fuel power generation capacity to be CCS-ready.
  • Prove capture systems at pilot scale in industrial applications where CO2 capture has not yet been demonstrated.
  • Significantly increase efforts to improve understanding among the public and stakeholders of CCS technology and the importance of its deployment.
  • Reduce the cost of electricity from power plants equipped with capture through continued technology development and use of highest possible efficiency power generation cycles.
  • Encourage efficient development of CO2 transport infrastructure by anticipating locations of future demand centres and future volumes of CO2.”
  • Over the next week, Energy Ramblings will be looking into some of the technologies that exist, some of the projects that have been built, the progress made against targets, and some of the challenges that are being experienced along the way.