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CCS is happening today
The most recent figures presented by Brad Page, CEO of the Institute, showed that there are 72 large-scale integrated CCS projects in different phases of development around the world. Importantly, eight of these projects are in operation and another seven projects are under construction. This means at least 15 large-scale CCS projects will be operational and storing more than 35 million metric tons of CO2 on an annual basis from 2015 onwards. Additionally, another 12 projects are heading towards a final investment decision (FID) within the coming year. This may push the total number of projects actually deployed as high as 27 within the next couple of years. Looking at the numbers, it seems that the goal of around 20 large-scale projects operating by 2020 is a realistic one.
However, not all of the news out of Bergen is this rosy. The number of projects entering the pipeline towards construction is slowing down, especially in Europe. This is a common problem, not only for CCS, but also for many other new low-carbon technologies, where new investment in energy infrastructure is slowing due to several factors.
According to the IEA's projections, reaching our climate targets requires 100 commercial-scale CCS projects to be in operation by 2020 and around 3400 by 2050. Although these targets seem ambitious, getting 20 large-scale demonstration projects up and running could be enough to overcome the main challenges for CCS in the short term by proving the technology at scale, lowering costs, and improving efficiencies. Each of these is absolutely necessary in order to see the broader roll out of next generation CCS projects.
Governments and proponents alike agree that a knowledge sharing network which brings global projects, industry partners, and governments together to learn from each others’ experiences is vital to achieving timely and cost-effective deployment. Taking an active role to support these early mover projects, the Institute is uniquely placed to collect more information, facts and knowledge about CCS delivery. The Institute will continue its role as a global knowledge broker to help accelerate the deployment of CCS projects throughout the world.
A good example of this is the Institute’s involvement in the European CCS Demonstration Network. Since March 2012, the Institute has run the secretariat for the Network and will connect its European members with leading projects and relevant networks in other parts of the world, including the US, China and Australia. Another conclusion from the session was that existing policy instruments may not provide enough incentive for individual projects to make a positive FID soon. The low ETS price was of primary concern for most participants. For the near future, additional co-financing from member states, a continuing strong long-term political commitment on CCS, and further investments in CO2 storage locations in the short term are necessary conditions for individual projects to move forward.
With the current low ETS price estimates for the coming years, projects need to find ways to improve the business case for their CCS project. Most presenters during the morning sessions were convinced that the usage of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in oil fields in the North Sea and Eastern Europe will become more important to improve the CCS value chain and the realisation of early-mover projects.
Governments increasingly understand that CCS is one of the more cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases on a large scale and in a short time frame. In a period where economic difficulty affects many countries, this should be an important argument. Policy makers must acknowledge this reality and provide adequate support mechanisms to make CCS a more integral part of their approach to address climate change.
This post expresses the views of this author and not necessarily of their organisation or the Global CCS Institute.