New Delhi: After years of slow progress, technologies to capture carbon emissions and store or reuse them were gaining momentum, a trend that will need to accelerate significantly for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals, said a new special report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The report “CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions” was launched at an IEA online event opened by Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg whose government announced a major funding commitment this week for a new carbon capture project that could help tackle emissions from Norway and neighbouring countries.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that were the hardest to prevent — a crucial part of reaching the net-zero emissions’ goals that a growing number of governments and companies have set for themselves.
Part of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives Series, the new IEA report was the most comprehensive global study on CCUS to date.
It assesses the state of play of CCUS technologies and maps out the evolving and expanding role they will need to play to put global emissions on a sustainable trajectory.
It includes a detailed analysis of CO2 emissions from power and industrial facilities in China, Europe and the US and the potential for storing them.
“The scale of the climate challenge means we need to act across a wide range of energy technologies. Carbon capture is critical for ensuring our transitions to clean energy are secure and sustainable,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“In order to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage as a technology for the future, we need investments in solutions and facilities in many regions and countries,” Norway Prime Minister Solberg added.
“CCUS will be necessary on a global scale if we are to meet the Paris Agreement. And we must start now.”
“Norway has been a global leader in researching, developing and implementing carbon capture technologies as demonstrated by its major funding commitment this week to the impressive Longship project which can help not just Norway but other European countries reduce their emissions,” Birol said.
“The IEA is delighted and honoured that Prime Minister Solberg is taking part in the launch of our new report that will help inform policy-making on CCUS around the world.”
Plans for more than 30 commercial CCUS facilities have been announced globally in the last three years. And projects now nearing a final investment decision represent an estimated potential investment of nearly $27 billion — more than double the investment planned in 2017.
This portfolio of projects was increasingly diverse and would double the amount of CO2 captured globally.
The report sets out the four main ways that CCUS technologies contribute to clean energy transitions. They are — Tackling emissions from existing energy infrastructure such as power and industrial plants, providing a solution for some of the most challenging emissions from heavy industries like cement and chemicals as well as from aviation, offering a cost-effective pathway for low-carbon hydrogen production in many regions and removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Although CCUS facilities have been operating for decades in certain industries like natural gas and fertilisers, they were still at an early stage of development in key sectors such as cement.
These were the areas where CCUS technologies were particularly important for tackling emissions because of a lack of alternatives.