Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

Why CCS is essential for a low-carbon future

15th November 2015

Topic(s): Carbon capture, Economics, Engineering and project delivery, law and regulation, Policy, Public engagement, use and storage (CCUS)

The following Insight is an excerpt from an article by Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair, Shell Canada Limited. Under Lorraine’s leadership Shell Canada has deployed the Quest Project, which will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the Athabasca Oil Sands Project by more than one million tonnes per year. This article is part of the Global CCS Institute thought leadership series. Read the full article here.

In late November, the world’s foremost climate experts and world leaders will descend on Paris for COP21. Their goal is to arrive at a universal, legally binding agreement that will continue the fight against climate change and spark the transition towards a low-carbon future. The task will require cooperation and visionary solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At Shell, we are investing heavily in one of those solutions.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the best options currently available for mitigating global GHG emissions. CCS captures CO2 from large industrial sources and stores it safely underground. The International Energy Agency has said that CCS alone has the potential to deliver 17 per cent of the world’s required CO2 mitigation by 2050, and as such, CCS must be a part of the strategy towards achieving society’s goal of avoiding the worst effects of global warming.

Shell has been a leader in CCS development for the past 15 years as part of our overall commitment to curtail carbon emissions. CCS is a proven, available technology that can help combat global warming. The combination of more CCS projects worldwide, further development of renewables and improved energy efficiency are critical if we’re to stay below the two-degrees celsius global temperature increase that scientists tell us we must not exceed.

Our CCS portfolio now spans the globe. We have interests in projects either planned or operational in the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia and Canada. Our Peterhead project in the U.K., now in the design stage, will (subject to approvals) be the world’s first full-scale natural gas CCS project. Up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions will be captured from the Peterhead Power Station during its anticipated 10-to-15 year lifespan and transported by pipeline offshore for long-term storage deep under the North Sea.

In Canada, Shell Cansolv technology was implemented at SaskPower’s CCS project at Boundary Dam Power Station. Launched in 2014, when fully operational the project will capture approximately one million tonnes of CO2 per year and is the world’s first commercial-scale post-combustion carbon capture system at a coal-fired power plant.

Shell’s Quest project in Canada is a key element of that portfolio. We built Quest at our Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, Canada, which processes heavy oil from the Canadian oil sands. I was thrilled to celebrate Canadian ingenuity and Quest’s official start-up earlier this month (November 2015). As Quest comes fully online, the project will capture and store more than one million tonnes of CO2 each year. That represents one-third of the upgrader’s total emissions and is equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars.

What's more, Quest provides a blueprint for the global climate community to successfully develop CCS projects. As part of the funding agreement with the government of Alberta, Shell is openly sharing details on Quest’s design, processes and lessons learned to benefit future CCS projects worldwide. Additionally, the project has demonstrated the importance of cost-management and best practices, which can also be applied to other projects. Lastly, Quest shows the role that government can play to support CCS development and the importance of effectively engaging the local community.

<< read the full article online >>

With Quest, Shell worked hard to help the public understand that CCS is not an intrusive or risky process; it simply captures CO2 emissions and stores them permanently underground. CCS has been in use without incident for over 40 years. Developing a robust measurement, monitoring and verification program that was externally verified by international risk management firm DNV also helped quell concerns.

These takeaways will be valuable to other countries exploring how to advance CCS more rapidly. We want CCS to reach its full potential, which is why we are taking an active role in sharing knowledge gained through projects like Quest and Peterhead. As an example of this commitment, Shell Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy have announced plans to collaborate on field tests to validate advanced technologies for underground storage of CO2.

As the world grapples with combatting climate change, CCS needs to be part of a global mitigation strategy, along with the development of renewable sources, improved energy efficiency and an eventual shift in how we power our lives.

Shell believes CCS, in combination with other GHG reduction opportunities, is critical to achieving carbon reduction targets in a cost-effective way. And if leaders need a roadmap for developing and deploying CCS, they can find one in Canada’s Quest project.

This is an excerpt from an opinion piece by Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair, Shell Canada Limited. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the Global CCS Institute. Click here to read the full version.

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