This year nearly 28 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be captured by existing operational carbon capture and storage (CSS) projects, according to a leading industry report.
The Global Status of CCS 2015, the annual report of the Global CCS Institute, an international membership organization dedicated to accelerate the development, demonstration and deployment CCS, also cited 22 operational projects that “hold the key to closing the gap between current international climate commitments, and what scientists say is needed in order to meet a global warming target of 2° Celsius.”
“If the world is serious about tackling the reality of climate change, we have to make full use of all available technology options–and especially CCS,” says Global CSS Institute CEO Brad Page. “CCS has a vital role to play in the overall technology mix required to meet the internationally agreed goal of limiting the impact of global warming.”
WHAT IS CCS?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of most promising technologies for tackling global warming, says BCC Research analyst Nelly Puren. She defines carbon capture, or CO2 sequestration, as “the segregation of CO2 , either chemically, as in chemical utilization, or physically, as in geologic storage.
“For both the power sector and industry, carbon capture is the only large-scale option to reduce emissions at relatively low cost while preserving the value of fossil fuel reserves and existing infrastructures,” she explains.
According to Global CCS Institute’s report, within two years those 22 CCS projects will be able to capture and store 40 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, or the equivalent to taking 8 million cars off the road. Overall, more than 200 CCS projects are operating or under construction worldwide, double the number in 2010.
“The CCS industry is poised to move through its most active construction period to date, extending across a diverse range of sectors such as iron and steel, natural gas and power,” Victor Der, executive advisor with Global CCS Institute, told the Environmental Leader.
The report also noted The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, published in 2014. The panel highlighted the importance of CCS as a vital climate mitigation technology. Without CCS, it said, the cost to avoid a global warming of more than 2°C would likely increase by 138 per cent, more than double current levels.
“It’s important to realize that CCS is not just about power generation emissions,” Page clarifies. “CCS is the only technology that can achieve large reductions in emissions from industrial processes such as manufacturing iron and steel, chemicals and cement. The industrial sector as a whole accounts for around 25 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.”
Ms. Puren concurs with Page, cautioning that “while further energy efficiency improvements in the sector are required, they have limited potential to reduce CO2 emissions, partly due to the non-energy-related emissions from many industrial processes. Low-carbon energy sources such as renewable energy could also be used, but fossil fuels are an intrinsic part of production processes in many industrial applications.
"Carbon capture is therefore seen as the only large-scale mitigation option available to make significant reductions in the emissions from industrial sector," she says. "Its success will nevertheless depend on the magnitude of the deployment and the performance of other low carbon technologies such as various forms of renewable energy, high efficiency coal power generation, improved efficiency at industrial facilities, demand side energy efficiency measures and new transport technologies."
Page issues a clarion call for more CSS adoption: “Now is the time for decision makers to make a renewed commitment to this vital low-carbon technology.”
According to Puren, the trend toward not only capturing carbon dioxide but also utilizing it is being explored as a possible alternative or complement to CCS. In the BCC Research report that examines this concept, Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage Technologies, or CCUS, she reviews four technologies developed for capturing CO2 in both power and industrial plants: pre-combustion, post-combustion, inherent separation, and oxyfuel combustion.
The report estimates yearly and cumulative investment spending by separation technology to total $6.8 billion in 2015 and $1 billion in 2019, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -32%.