Insights

The Global Status of CCS: 100 days after the COP21 Paris Agreement

The COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris during December 2015 spoke with great promise of a renewed global commitment to tackle climate change. Front and centre in the post-COP discussion has been one significant shift in thinking. No longer are we aiming to limit global warming to 2°C. After Paris, we’re aiming for well below that – as little as 1.5°C. This Insight provides an update on the global status of carbon capture and storage (CCS) 100 days after the release of the Paris Agreement.

As the Institute identified in the Global Status of CCS: 2015, if we are serious about tackling this reality, full use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is required. Independent, credible forecasts are that by 2040 the world will still be predominantly reliant on energy from fossil fuels, even with unprecedented growth in the deployment of renewables and energy efficiency. Expert reports from organisations such as the Brookings Institution and the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change have shown that all low-carbon technologies are needed to tackle our climate targets.

But tellingly, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report found that most climate models could not meet emissions reduction targets without CCS. Crucially, without CCS, the cost of mitigation would more than double – rising by an average of 138 per cent. Modelling by the International Energy Agency shows that CCS can contribute 13% of cumulative CO2 emission reductions through 2050 if we are to limit global warming to 2°C.

In a 1.5°C scenario, CCS needs to shoulder an even greater burden, and here’s why:

  1. Current projections indicate more than 2,400 new coal-fired power stations are already planned for construction by the year 2030, to say nothing of the hundreds of existing facilities that will still be in operation for the coming decades.
  2. Even if we replaced unabated coal power with unabated gas, the world is still nowhere near a chance to limit greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to meet its own nominated targets.
  3. Fully one quarter (25 percent) of the world’s CO2 emissions result from industrial sectors such as iron and steel, cement, chemicals and petrochemicals and fertiliser manufacture.

Many people already have entrenched views about points one and two. Let’s talk about point three.

The only option for deep reductions in industrial emissions

CCS is the only technology that can achieve large reductions in emissions from these industrial processes. If we want to live in a world where we still produce steel and cement in order to build hospitals, schools, homes and cities…if we want to live in a world where we can fertilise enough crops to feed a growing population of more than seven billion souls…if we want to live in that world, then we need to decarbonise those industries.

To do that, not just "at scale" but "significantly, meaningfully, at all", we simply must embrace CCS.

Just last week we welcomed the launch of the Tomakomai CCS Project, and congratulated the Government of Japan on successful completion of Japan’s first integrated CCS facility. Commencing in April, CO2 from a hydrogen production unit in an oil refinery will be captured and purified, before compression and subsequent injection into offshore geological formations in the Tomakomai area, in south-west Hokkaido.

This is first fully integrated project using carbon capture, compression, transport, and geologic storage technology on a hydrogen production facility in the Asia Pacific region, which is essential for demonstrating the growing range of applications for industrial CCS.

Currently, most of the world’s hydrogen is used either as ammonia feedstock in fertiliser production, or for converting heavy petroleum sources such as tar sands and oil shale into lighter fuels. While hydrogen itself is often touted as a ‘clean fuel’, there are no naturally occurring sources of pure hydrogen. Global hydrogen production depends heavily on fossil fuels including natural gas, oil and coal, which are processed to produce pure hydrogen. Carbon dioxide is an unavoidable by-product of the industrial production of hydrogen, and CCS is the only solution to avoiding these emissions.

It’s clear that industrial emissions of CO2 will remain a problem into the future. We must reduce industrial emissions as part of the overall solution. CCS is the only solution.

For this reason, among others, CCS is a vital technology for meeting the world’s targets for mitigating global warming at least cost – the very objective is simply impossible without CCS. But the objective will only be met if governments remain committed to decarbonising national economies.

The role of governments

Governments such as those of the United States, Norway, Canada and now Japan, have led the world in developing and committing to supportive policies that have already enabled industry to deliver successful CCS projects. Nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Australia, China, and the Netherlands are set to join the charge, all with large scale integrated CCS projects either nearing operational status, or in the final stages of evaluation.

There are seven large-scale, integrated CCS projects scheduled for launch before the end of 2017. Combined with the 15 large-scale projects already in operation, they will provide governments and corporations across the world with the confidence and insight to develop policies that will stimulate CCS investment at scale, and across industries – especially for those industries that cannot decarbonise without it.

By building a global portfolio of projects in power generation, steel manufacturing, petrochemical processing, and even biofuels, industry has demonstrated the maturity and efficacy of CCS as a low-carbon technology. Industry and governments have acted. It’s time for the world to take notice.

First of a kind, last of an era

This next tranche of seven large-scale integrated CCS projects will have a combined capture potential of 12 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), boosting existing capture capacity by more than 40 per cent and taking the annual capture potential of operational CCS projects to 40 Mtpa by the end of 2017.

In tangible terms, that’s a similar impact to taking eight million cars off the road.

The projects include first-of-a-kind large-scale CCS applications for the biofuel and steel industries, and will see significant scale added to power generation carbon capture and deep saline CO2 injection.

Advancements such as these lay the groundwork for dozens and hundreds more projects to follow. The time for debate about the future of CCS has passed – and it happened in December 2015. The ambitions of the Paris Agreement make it a given that the conversation now should not be “whether CCS”, but “when”.

The large-scale integrated projects expected to launch this year and next include:

  • Illinois Industrial CCS Project (USA)
    • The Illinois Industrial CCS Project will be the world’s first large-scale bio-CCS project, capturing around 1.0 Mtpa of CO2 at the Archer Daniel Midlands corn-to-ethanol production facility in Decatur. It will also be the first integrated CCS project in the US to inject CO2 into a deep saline formation at a scale of 1 Mtpa, and follows the earlier Illinois Basin Decatur Project that injected around one million tonnes of CO2 over a three year period to the end of 2014.
  • Kemper County Energy Facility (USA)
    • When operational, the Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi will be the largest CCS power project in the world in terms of volume of CO2 captured (approximately 3.0 Mtpa, to be used for enhanced oil recovery, or EOR). It will be the first commercial scale deployment of the TRIGTM coal gasification process developed jointly by Southern Company and KBR in partnership with the US Department of Energy.
  • Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project (USA)
    • This will be the world’s largest post-combustion capture project at a power station when it is launched, planned for late 2016. Unit 8 of the W.A. Parish plant near Houston, Texas, is being retrofitted with a post combustion system capable of capturing 1.4 Mtpa. The captured CO2 will be used for EOR. Completion of the Petra Nova project will result in three fully operational CCS projects installed on coal-fired power stations around the world, according to present launch schedules.
  • Alberta Carbon Trunk Line with Agrium CO2 Stream (Canada)
    • The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) will have the capacity to transport up to 14.6 Mtpa of CO2. The 240 km ACTL will transport CO2 from a number of sources in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland to declining oil fields in Central Alberta for EOR. One of the initial sources of CO2 for the ACTL is the existing Agrium fertiliser plant close to Redwater, Alberta. When fully operational, the CO2 recovery facility would provide between 0.3 – 0.6 Mtpa for transport.
  • Alberta Carbon Trunk Line with North West Sturgeon Refinery CO2 Stream (Canada)
    • The Sturgeon Refinery will combine the proven processes of gasification technology with an integrated carbon capture and storage solution. When fully operational, the CO2 recovery facility would provide between 1.2 – 1.4 Mtpa for transport.
  • Abu Dhabi CCS Project (Middle East)
    • The Abu Dhabi CCS Project in the UAE is the world’s first iron and steel project to apply CCS at large-scale. Around 0.8 Mtpa of CO2 will be captured from the direct reduced iron process at the Emirates Steel Plant for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
  • Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project (Australia)
    • When launched, the Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project in Western Australia will be the largest in the world to be injecting CO2 into a deep saline formation. The project will see 3.4 to 4.0 Mtpa of CO2 injected in a deep saline formation, at a depth of more than two kilometres.