Can CCUS tech help us hit the 1.5°C target?

Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technologies are not an antidote for climate change. However, in a world that is still reliant primarily on fossil fuels for its energy needs, CCUS technologies will act as a catalyst to help curb industrial emissions.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) affirms; with CCUS we can reduce the global carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth.

How does CCUS work?

CCUS comprises a chain of different technologies. The tech enables the storage of carbon dioxide produced in power plants and factories instead of letting it out into the atmosphere. This crucial first step happens by retrofitting factory chimneys with solvent filters, thus trapping carbon emissions. Companies could then pipe this to different locations, use it or store it.

This CO2 that is captured can also be ‘injected’ deep underground without contributing or adding to the climate crisis. It could also end up in a plastic you are holding, or the next carbonated fizzy drink you might sip.

Until green hydrogen becomes a staple, many industries will have to bank on blue hydrogen as a transitory yet major source of energy. With the relatively competitive CCUS technology, we can all still bank and use blue hydrogen.

In effect, CCUS can: -

  • Tackle Emissions from existing energy infrastructure
  • Provide Solution for sectors with hard-to-abate emissions.
  • Help with low-carbon hydrogen production.
  • Remove Carbon from the atmosphere

Europe’s CCUS path and Net Zero Emissions

CCUS is crucial in Europe’s plan to reach the 1.5°C global target.

Other than concentrating on renewable sources of energy, the IEA believes the EU should further decarbonize their energy starting with the gas network. Though European scientists have been calling out for the widespread use of CCS, global warming is still unaffected.

Currently, there are 14 commercial CCS facilities in Europe, in various stages of development. Experts though believe that it is far too less considering Europe’s dream for Net Zero Emissions.

The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has become tougher on polluting firms. To reduce CO2 emissions, they have increased the cost of permits. With this move, they wish to reward companies that are adopting CCUS technology. Emitters though will have to pay for allowances as it is subjected to remain high or increase further.

Norway and the UK governments have introduced national level subsidies for specific CCUS projects. In 2005, Norway was the 5th largest net oil exporter, but a diminishing oil and coal reserve motivated them to push for renewable and CCS technology.

Europe’s first CCS Full-Scale in Norway’s is a concerted effort to meet the European goal of climate-neutrality by 2050.

The EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Surveillance Authority (ESA) has given €2.1bn in aid, the largest single-state aid ever approved, for this project. The Norwegian government will cover 80% of the project’s estimated budget.

Equinor has been helping the UK’s industrial level transition with its CCS-based blue hydrogen plant and hopes to move towards net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The Netherlands and Denmark have committed to the use of CCUS to achieve national emission reduction targets and to meet the EU’s Green Hydrogen Roadmap 2050. For more on the EU’s Green Hydrogen Roadmap, check our previous blog.

The Main Challenges

Globally, CCS projects have grown by a third. There are around 26 commercial CCS facilities in operation that can capture 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

If CCUS are the need of the hour, then why are they not that many projects in the EU or internationally? Simply put — cost. Scattered deployment of CCS and CCU could significantly increase the cost per unit of CO2 transport and storage.

To tackle power generation emissions with CCUS there needs to be extensive (at times expensive) retrofits.

The cost for that could range from $40 and $80 for coal-fired power generation or $50 to $170 for gas-fired power generation, per metric ton of CO2.

30 commercial CCUS facilities are being planned and moving ahead globally despite the Covid‑19 crisis. 2020 saw many governments and industries across the world coming together to invest USD 4.5 billion in CCUS tech.

Join us for an in-depth analysis of the latest developments, innovations, and practices in CCUS technologies by virtually meeting the decision-makers from leading European Energy companies. Join our exclusive meeting on “Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage” to know more about the collaboration strategies and the future of CCUS for a low-carbon future.

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