CCS demonstration moving forward – acceleration needed

Organisation: Global CCS Institute, Shell

In 2012 the Global CCS Institute identified 75 large-scale integrated CCS projects (LSIPs) around the world, a net increase of one project since the release of the Global Status of CCS: 2011 report in October 2011.

It is a positive development that two additional LSIPs have entered construction since last year, the Air Products Steam Methane Reformer EOR Project in the United States and Shell’s Quest project in Canada. CCS demonstration has been noticeably moving forward over the past three years, with six LSIPs entering construction, including two power generation projects. The CO2 capture capacity of confirmed projects (i.e. either in operation or construction) now stands at approximately 36 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). This is roughly equivalent to the current annual emissions of Singapore or New Zealand, demonstrating the significant contribution to CO2 emission reductions that CCS is already making.

However, this is to be compared to the seven giga tonnes per annum (7 000 Mtpa) defined by the IEA as the 2050 target for CCS under the Blue Map scenario. Even if all remaining 59 LSIPs in development planning were to become operational, the total capture capacity of all current CCS projects would still be a long way from this target, at just under 150 Mtpa.

Volume of CO2 potentially captured and stored by LSIPs (Mtpa CO2) - Source Global CCS Institute
The first peak of new LSIPs coming online that was expected to occur in 2015–16 (based on project responses to the Institute’s annual survey in 2009 and 2010) has shifted and is now projected to start from 2018–20, pushing the CCS demonstration phase further into the 2020s. 

There is a need for a rapidly increasing number of commercial-scale CCS projects. Project numbers have remained relatively constant over the past three years, while the total volume of CO2 potentially captured and stored by all LSIPs has slightly decreased. As a reference point, around 130 projects would need to be operational in 2020 to be on track to meet the IEA target, but only 51 of the 59 projects identified as being in planning could be operational by then.

A broad portfolio of commercial-scale CCS demonstration projects needs to be developed across a range of industries and technologies. Lessons from early-mover projects are critical not only to reduce the costs associated with CCS, but also to inform the development of adequate energy and climate policies and regulations. During the past three years, the Institute has observed the continued paucity of commercial-scale projects in some high-emitting industries (iron and steel production, oil refining), and there has been no planned LSIP in the cement and pulp and paper industries since 2010. This is likely to continue in the coming years as the Institute estimates the amount of government funding currently available to CCS worldwide can support very few LSIPs, with other projects remaining strictly dependent on private initiative.

Increased resources are needed to enable early-stage projects to progress consistently through development planning. Although a number of projects at the most advanced stages of development have made steady progress over the past three years, the situation is quite different for many of those at the early scoping stage. Most have made little progress, often year upon year delaying their expected date of operation. Industry confidence in government commitment to CCS is essential to drive the investment of funds and man-hours required to progress early-stage CCS projects. This will require the implementation of adequate support mechanisms throughout the project lifecycle, beyond the current rounds of competitive public funding programs.

NOTE: Project numbers were correct at time of publication of the 2012 Status report. The total number of projects was revised down to 74 on 24 October 2012 due to the recent cancellation of the PurGen One project in the United States.