ENGO perspective on CCS

Apr 13 2013

Governments have a pivotal role in ensuring carbon capture and storage is used as part of a suite of tools to combat global warming, says a report written by the ENGO Network on CCS for UN climate talks in Qatar. By Camilla Svendsen Skriung, Political adviser CCS globally, ZERO - Zero Emission Resource Organisation.

The network’s study, Perspectives on Carbon Capture and Storage, urges swift action by governments to not only set a price on carbon but also place a significant market value on the avoidance of CO2 emissions. Without supportive policies worldwide, the report says, there is no economic driver for CCS and little incentive for operators of power plants or industrial facilities to capture and store CO2.

The report was presented to the COP18 gathering in Doha this week by members of the ENGO Network on CCS. It has been welcomed by climate experts, such as Lord Nicholas Stern and former executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Claude Mandil, who both attended the report launch in support of its findings.

We hope the report can contribute to broaden the discussion of CCS as a complement to the key strategies of energy efficiency and renewable resources in combating climate change. The need now to embrace all climate solutions is paramount. This is not a time for discrediting technologies that has proven its potential for mitigating CO2 emissions. We need to use all solutions, be it small or large ones, to reach our needed climate targets.

As would be expected, our organisations have approached CCS with caution. The prospect of injecting millions of tons of compressed carbon dioxide in the subsurface has to be taken seriously. After long and careful study of the available science, we have concluded that CCS can be carried out safely and effectively, provided it is adequately regulated. Our conclusions are based on, and are backed by, an overwhelming consensus of the scientific c literature and prominent research institutions.

The Network believes that CCS has a valuable role to play in the climate mitigation portfolio, alongside other solutions. First generation CCS technology is commercially available today, enabling the deployment of the technology to begin worldwide immediately.. Regulatory frameworks for carbon dioxide injection are being finalised in various countries around the world, and it is important that these contain adequate safeguards for public health and the environment, and that all countries abide by minimum standards.

Now we need political will and action to ensure that CCS can take the needed part of reducing the global emissions of greenhouse gases.

These are our main findings and recommendations:

Limits and a price on carbonGovernments have the most important role to play in advancing CCS. Since the technology is ready to begin deployment but is being held back by market and regulatory conditions, concerted policy intervention holds the key to its future prospects. The biggest policy imperative for CCS, or indeed other large-scale clean energy technologies, is for limits on carbon emissions and an associated price on carbon. Without limits and a price – be it direct or indirect – there is no real need for markets to gravitate toward a technology that is specifically targeted toward reducing carbon emissions.

Overcome the initial high-cost hurdle for first moversCCS comes at a price premium today, but significant cost reductions are expected to be achieved once the initial ‘hump’ is overcome. Governments have a long track record in assisting technologies through these initial stages until technological improvements and a sufficient body of experience and know-how enable costs to come down. A correctly structured subsidy or assistance program would act as a catalyst to enable broader and faster deployment at lower cost. But such programs cannot by themselves provide a viable pathway toward deployment, since operating costs also need to be covered on an ongoing basis. For that reason, a price on carbon is a necessary prerequisite for subsidies or assistance programs. Finally, alongside such programs, sustained basic research and development (R&D) would ensure that a new generation of technologies is ready to replace existing ones.

More effective regulations and mechanismsWe also believe that regulations mandating or providing a pathway for CCS deployment are necessary, and complementary to limits and a price on carbon emissions. Performance standards for particular types of facilities, for example, can safeguard against market failures and provide a clear pathway for CCS deployment that provides the needed certainty for the large capital investments needed. Although some have argued that the market should deliver the optimal solutions, there is ample evidence that markets do not operate as intended and that failures due to bad design, application or unforeseen circumstances can cause significant distortions and delays.

Our groups are supportive of an international mechanism that will facilitate the development of CCS in developing countries with assistance (technical or financial) from industrialised countries. We believe that a CCS-specific mechanism is needed in order to ensure meaningful deployment in developing countries, its safety and effectiveness, as well as broad acceptance.

A global framework for safe CCSA sound regulatory framework for the safe injection and proper monitoring and accounting of captured, transported and sequestered carbon dioxide is paramount. This framework should cover enhanced hydrocarbon recovery projects as well as deep saline injection. Rigorous regulation is necessary to ensure that projects are sited and operated responsibly by capable entities, that shortcuts are not taken that could endanger public health or the environment, and to establish public trust in the application of the technology.

Demonstration projects proving CCSFinally, a carbon price alone, even combined with incentives, will not be enough to ensure the wide uptake of the CCS technology. Demonstrations are an essential next step in the innovation cycle for CCS, but even if they are successful, they will not magically result in technology uptake. For that uptake to become reality, limits on carbon emissions and regulations against business-as-usual will be necessary.

As well as being a call to action on CCS, the report also reflects the current status of CCS in various geographic regions. Members of the ENGO Network on CCS who contributed to the report are the Clean Air Task Force, E3G, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Climate Institute, The Pembina Institute, World Resources Institute and ZERO.

ENGO Network on CCS

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Issue 63 - May - June 2018

The Oil & Gas Issue: CCS is back on the EU agenda and the oil & gas industry can help .. Industrial CO2 capture: the case of LNG plants .. ACT Acorn full-chain integrated project Hazelwood pilot - a new CO2 absorber offers cost reductions .. Offshor.....

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