Report: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

May 23 2023


The report from the International Centre for Sustainable Carbon studies the status and potential of BECCS, particularly in Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, the UK and the USA.

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies are an essential mechanism, together with emission reduction strategies, to limit atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 430–480 ppm and so restrict global average temperature rise to less than 2.0ºC. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) scenarios, this would mean an average annual removal of 12 GtCO2/y until the end of the century.

This needs to begin immediately and ramp up rapidly. IAMs and sustainability modelling show that sustainable bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is pivotal technology with the potential to sequester 2–4 GtCO2/y. BECCS is the most mature engineered CDR technology, but its deployment has been slow.

Currently in 2022, <0.5 MtCO2/y is captured from biogenic sources of CO2 from power, energy from waste, and cement manufacturing. In the next five years this could increase 10-fold with planned projects at Drax in the UK, Klemetsrud in Norway, Twence in the Netherlands and Stockholm Exergi CHP in Sweden.

The report examines the suitable technologies and approaches for BECCS, their technology readiness level (TRL) and performance, and the development priorities particular to biomass systems.

These technologies cover current state-of-the-art solvent-based carbon removal methods, as well as developing technologies such as chemical looping combustion, oxyfuel combustion, carbonate looping, and gasification with physical absorption. It also presents a detailed case study of the decarbonisation of Drax power station and its plans for first-of-a-kind commercial BECCS deployment.

Shared CO2 storage infrastructure in industrial hubs and clusters will be a crucial factor for BECCS projects and should be developed as a matter of urgency. Clearly, there are barriers and challenges, both technical, environmental, social, and ethical, and some of these are summarised. They include biomass supply chain sustainability and its impact on the environment, wider ecosystems, and potential land use change issues.

In addition, the biomass supply impacts the downstream carbon and energy efficiencies that can be achieved, and therefore the socio-technoeconomics of the whole BECCS system. Just as greenhouse gases are transboundary pollutants, so the biomass supply chain is often global.

Development of sustainable, resilient BECCS systems that meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require careful management. Robust policies and supply chain governance, together with incentives that reward biogenic carbon removals are essential instruments for successful deployment at the scale required.

Executive Summary
Read the full report


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