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Status of CCS
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has an essential role in reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As part of a portfolio of low-carbon technologies, CCS is needed to stabilise atmospheric GHG concentrations at levels consistent with limiting projected temperature rises to 2°C by 2050.
The specific challenge for the CCS industry is to demonstrate the entire chain at commercial scale —incorporating CO2 capture from large point sources, CO2 compression and then transportation and injection into suitable storage sites or for a use that results in permanent emissions abatement.
Progress is being made
CCS is happening now and continuing to grow at a strong pace, with dozens of large-scale integrated projects either in operation or under construction, and some 20 million tonnes of CO2 kept away from the Earth’s atmosphere each year. When six new CCS projects go live by 2015, the amount of sequestered CO2 will rise to some 33 million tonnes per year – the rough equivalent of preventing the emissions from more than six million cars.
There are eight large-scale projects in operation around the world and a further six under construction. Three of these projects have recently commenced construction. Importantly, these include a second power project, Boundary Dam in Canada, and the first project in the United States that will store CO2 in a deep saline formation, the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Sequestration (ICCS) project.
Numerous projects are undertaking CCS in response to, or anticipation of, longer-term climate policies or potential carbon offset markets. While this is promising, developing a business case without a revenue stream – such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or other opportunities – remains a challenge.
Characterising storage sites requires a long lead-time, often 5-10 years or more. Projects that have not yet commenced active storage assessments will likely struggle to operate before 2020.
Project proponents are continuously reviewing their public engagement approach to identify and mitigate potential challenges. In addition, substantial, timely and stable policy support – including a carbon price signal – will help demonstrate and deploy CCS, while driving innovation.
The development of CCS laws and regulations has continued at a reasonable pace with a number of jurisdictions completing framework legislation and commencing implementation of secondary regulations and guidance.
Urgent action going forward
Ultimately, the international community is accepting that the longer CCS is delayed, the more expensive it becomes, andin order to fight climate change, CCS must play an integral role in limiting emissions in coming decades.