Mounting pressure from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and expectations established by global players following last year’s COP26 climate summit have led companies to introduce a multitude of carbon-cutting techniques, to make for the cleaner production of oil and gas. Now, governments worldwide are investing heavily in carbon-cutting and storage (CCS) technologies to ensure the decarbonization of their national economies over the coming decades, in line with Paris Agreement pledges. As the world continues with its addiction to fossil fuels, CCS could provide the net-zero solution governments have been looking for to meet climate policy promises.
By 2021, all operating CCS facilities that were operational or under construction had a CO2 capturing capacity of around 40 Mt of carbon dioxide annually. And the operations that have so far been announced will bring that figure up to around 190 Mt CO2 a year by 2030. Although forecasts range between 350 Mt CO2 and 1.7 Gt CO2 of capturing capacity worldwide by 2030. So far, the main drawback to the incorporation of CCS technologies into oil and gas operations is the added cost. Although if carbon taxes are introduced, it is likely to incentivize companies to use CCS equipment in their operations.
Dutch multinational banking and financial services firm ING believes that CCS technologies will become a vital tool for cutting carbon, as several countries around the globe are expected to continue to rely on fossil fuels well into the mid-century. However, as CCS is currently in a nascent stage of development, governments will have to incentivize energy companies to use CCS technologies by including it in their climate policies, subsidizing the cost of equipment, and offering tax breaks or other incentives for carbon capture.
To this end, the U.K. set up a Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund (CIF) in 2020, with a budget of almost $1.2 billion. The government believes that carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS), as well as hydrogen, will be critical to meeting the country’s climate commitments. As part of the plan, the government hopes to establish at least two CCUS clusters by the mid-2020s, and four by 2030 to capture 10MtCO?/year by the end of the decade.
In the U.S., the Department of Energy (DoE) announced a Notice of Intent for $2.25 billion of spending to boost the number of carbon storage projects across the country, with funds coming from Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Each site will have the capacity to store a minimum of 50 million Mt of captured carbon dioxide, equivalent to that emitted by 10 million ICE cars each year. The DoE also plans to fund the advancement of critical carbon management technologies at a cost of $91 million. This scheme supports President Biden’s aim for a net-zero economy by 2050.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated of the plan, “The President’s budget commitments coupled with the investments from his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will enable the U.S. to develop cutting-edge technologies to safely and efficiently capture, remove, and store CO2 while revitalizing communities that have powered this nation for generations.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the government announced a $170 million program in 2021 to boost CCUS operations in the country. The strategy aims to encourage domestic and international research collaborations and lower the cost of technology adoption. The CCUS Hubs and Technologies program supports the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap, aiming to reduce the price of CO2 compression, transport, and storage to encourage greater uptake.
This month, an Australian company, AspiraDAC, announced a new CCS technology showing Australia is quickly catching up with its European and North American counterparts. The solar-powered, tent-sized machine uses direct air capture (DAC) technology. The company has already signed a $700,000 contract and expects to roll out 180 machines to capture and store 500 tonnes of CO2 by 2027, at a cost of $1,000 a tonne.
And environmental organizations are calling for a more cohesive approach to carbon capture in Europe. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it abundantly clear that several industries will have to incorporate CCS technologies into their operations if we are to hope to decrease carbon emissions to the level required to achieve no more than 1.5°C global warming by 2100.
The European Commission has included CCS in its Fit For 55 proposals as well as launched a CCUS Forum last year. However, climate organizations believe that a more strategic policy framework needs to be set out at the E.U. level if countries are to achieve their CCS goals, with 50 projects already underway, many of which require the cross-border transport and storage of CO2.
Several state governments have already established strategies and funds to increase the number of CCS projects over the next decades, aimed at decarbonizing their economies. However, the world’s political powers must now consider a regional approach to CCS to ensure that their efforts are cohesive and that CO2 can be transported and stored efficiently in suitable sites, where necessary across borders.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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