Carbon capture – technology and economic perspectives

27 sept 2012

Carbon capture – technology and economic perspectives

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) holds significant potential to combat climate change, as part of a wider low-carbon energy mix. According to latest IEA energy modelling, CCS could account for one-fifth of all emission reductions until 2050, if the world is committed to reaching an ambitious climate change reduction goal in a cost-effective manner. Many capture technologies exist, but they have not yet been scaled up to large installations, especially in the power sector.

Many challenges must be overcome if such a role for CCS is realised. Costs of technology must be reduced, and at the same time policy incentives provided to ensure a level of first deployment in absence of a high-enough price on CO2 emissions. Governments must also explicitly recognise the role that CCS can play. Regulatory frameworks must be established and our knowledge of storage capacity must be improved.

Finding economic uses for captured CO2 is an opportunity that must be looked at in more detail. Utilisation of CO2 is already happening in many industries, and in large volumes also in enhanced oil recovery. It is however important to recognise that if CCS is to be a climate mitigation technology, the volumes captured must be very significant, in millions of tons of CO2 captured. Economic uses of CO2 that would ensure steady, large-scale demand, are not that numerous.

The IEA believes that CCS has an important role to play in the future. Governments and industry must now commit to ensuring technican development by establishing relevant policy measures and by investing in research, development and industrial-scale demonstration