SESSION 1, CO2 : the context

27 sept 2012
09:40 - 11:00

SESSION 1, CO2 : the context

The latest Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that, on current trends, global CO2 emissions are bound to top 60 Gtons. Even taking governments’ and industry’s climate pledges seriously, they would only stabilize at 40 Gtons with an expected temperature rise of 4°C. The world will be a much harsher place for economic and human activities. To avoid global temperatures rising over the safe limit of 2°C global CO2 emissions must be taken down to 17 Gtons/year, half of the 2009 levels.

The most drastic energy efficiency, fuel substitution and non-carbon energy sources cannot achieve this cut alone. As a last resort industry must start capturing CO2 at the source and keep it reliably away from the atmosphere. The IEA calculates that between 2015 and 2030, a yearly 2,4 Gtons of CO2 must be captured, growing to 7,8 Gtons /year by 2050, thus cumulating to 123 Gtons over the period.

The prevailing view is that this captured CO2 should be stored in aquifers or oil reservoirs. While the global storage capacity may be available, theoretically, for this volume (almost 100 000 km3 by 2050) there is no specific evaluation of the distribution of real useable storage locations, their social acceptability, the necessary infrastructure capital and distribution costs.  

As an alternative to storage, the recovery of the carbon content in these captured streams and its chemical processing into existing hydrocarbon and chemical markets could create a circular carbon economy. It would replace fossil feedstock transfers to the atmosphere. CO2 is a very stable molecule. Carbon recovery and reuse would only make environmental sense if they were attained with no net CO2 emissions compared to storage or other avoidance alternatives.

The Forum’s first session will review the context of climate mitigation and CO2 revalorisation options.

It will review:

  • The essential scientific findings that feed the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • The progress in carbon captures technologies.
  • An outlook on costs and economic incentives to keep CO2 away from the atmosphere and reuse it as a source of carbon for valuable chemicals and fuels.
  • The barriers to progress and the policy measures needed by industry to embark on the Carbon Capture and Reuse development path.