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PwC Report: Carbon Capture and Storage Must Be Part of Greenhouse Gas Stabilization Solution

In the PwC analysis, only the Green Growth + CCS will lead to a sustainable outcome. Click to enlarge.

Pricewaterhouse- Coopers (PwC) has released a new study that concludes global carbon dioxide emissions could double by 2050 given a business-as-usual (BAU) approach combined with the rapid economic growth of emerging countries such as China and India and continued more moderate growth in today’s advanced economies.

Of the six different scenarios considered, only the “Green Growth + CCS” strategy stabilizes atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 2050 at what the current scientific consensus suggests would be broadly acceptable levels. This Green Growth Plus scenario incorporates possible emission reductions due to a greener fuel mix, annual energy efficiency gains over and above the historic trend, and widespread use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

The six scenarios considered in the report are:

  • Baseline. A scenario in which energy efficiency improves in line with trends of the last 25 years, with no change in fuel mix by country. PWC uses this BAU scenario as the benchmark against which to assess the need for change.

  • Scorched Earth. This scenario assumes energy efficiency improvements 1% less per annum than in the BAU scenario, with no change in fuel mix. This scenario might be associated with major technological advances leading to significantly lower fossil-fuel extraction costs and associated reductions in energy prices that eradicate economic incentives for efficiency improvements and substitution.

  • Constrained Growth. This scenario maintains energy assumptions as in the baseline, but uses lower GDP growth, especially in the E7 countries.

  • Greener Fuel Mix. Assumptions in this scenario are similar to those of the baseline, with the ex exception of a significant shift from fossil fuels to nuclear and renewables energy by 2050.

  • Green Growth. This scenario combines the Greener Fuel Mix assumptions with energy efficiency improvements 1% per annum greater than in the baseline.

  • Green Growth + CCS. This scenario adds carbon capture and sequestration to the Green Growth strategy.

PwC finds that both the Greener Fuel Mix and the Constrained Growth scenarios results in atmospheric CO2 concentrations rising to more than 500 ppm by 2050, with the rate of increase only slightly decelerating.

...the majority of scientists would probably now see [500 ppm] as the maximum level consistent with avoiding severe risks of adverse climate change affects (and many now argue for a lower maximum at 450 ppm or even 400 ppm).

This suggests that the Green Growth scenario might be a more prudent target to aim for, implying a gradual reduction in global carbon emissions from a peak of around 8.5 GtC in 2025 to around 7.5 GtC in 2050, only slightly above current levels. However...this would still imply atmospheric CO2 levels of around 475 ppm by 2050 and these would still be rising at around 2 ppm at that time according to our model, similar to the estimated rate of increase at present.

...plausible extrapolations from our Green Growth scenario without CCS would suggest that atmospheric CO2 levels might reach 500 ppm by 2075 without clearly stabilizing.

So this scenario would seem to be at best minimally acceptable and would ideally need to be complemented by a combination of carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions to the atmosphere up to 2050 and further measures to cut emissions at a faster rate beyond that date.

PwC concludes that the G7 economies—the US, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada—may need to take the lead in reducing their carbon emissions, given that emissions from the faster-growing emerging economies will almost certainly continue to rise over the next few decades.

Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low-cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than around 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy was followed, equivalent to sacrificing only around a year of economic growth for the sake of reducing carbon emissions in 2050 by around 60% compared to our baseline scenario.

But if this is to be achieved, it will take further concerted action by governments, businesses and individuals over a broad range of measures to boost energy efficiency, adopt a greener fuel mix, and introduce carbon capture and storage technologies in power plants and other major industrial facilities.

—John Hawksworth, report author

This latest PwC report follows on from one published in March 2006 which highlighted the rapid growth potential of the E7 emerging economies—China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey—leading up to 2050.




A few years ago nuclear fusion was going to be the Saviour of Mankind, now it's CCS. The reasoning seems to be that it has to work and if it doesn't work then the party is over. However there are just a handful of subsidised, optimally located and newly engineered demonstration plants. The real world depends on tens of thousands of arbitrarily located power stations, cement factories and a few synfuel plants. The effort should go into retroffiting CCS to these operations. There is no compelling evidence that this is feasible.

Of course enthusiasts will talk about algae from flue gas yada yada. Maybe the party is over for coal.


If you use coal, I would favor IGCC and pipe the CO2 back into spent NG wells. The pipe system might cost, but so might climate change. Maybe in the future we can use the CO2 and you will know where to find it.


"Carbon Capture and Storage Must Be Part of Greenhouse Gas Stabilization Solution"

Also in the News tonight: Dog bites man !

Peter S

Why is so much emphasis placed on paper recycling, when it stores carbon? Surely it is better to use at worst landfill of paper to temporarily hold carbon - growing more trees to replace it - and at best use reclaimed paper waste for building and other long term uses so it is kept out of the atmosphere indefinitely? The figures quoted by local councils of newsprint taking 100 years to biodegrade is surely a bonus. Let's say the paper in landfill has a half life of 20 years so 3% is left after 100 years, at least it is out of the atmosphere for a while.


Anyone have the lowdown on how much CCS will cost for existing plants?

What sort of $/kwh for a new IGCC w/ CCS may we expect?

Wonder why nobody bothers investing more into solar power & battery research. It should seems like it'd be a great option if it worked.


Tom Catino

We need to do 2 things to solve the CO2 problem.If we do these 2 things it will also help to reduce the Peak Oil problems we face...

1)capture ALL man made CO2 at it's source of production including automotive CO2...

2)Use all the captured CO2 to grow algae & convert it
into biofuel...

Bill Young


EPRI uses a figure of $0.03/kwh added cost for carbon capture on a gas fired plant. I don't know if this projected cost includes disposal of the CO2 or just liquification. www.epri.com has some interesting data on various generation options.

Existing plants were not built with sequestering intended. My guess (and that is all it is) is that new plants would be required for sequestering.



That 3 cent figure is about right, with sequester. So, if you pay 10 cents per kwh and are willing to pay 13 cents per khw we can have it. That is a vast over simplification, but those kind of ballpark figures are necessary for the public to decide if they want to do it. If we are going to have EVs someday and 50% of the elctric still comes from coal, it would be nice to have it clean and friendly.

Paul Dietz

Anyone have the lowdown on how much CCS will cost for existing plants?

EPRI (with Alstom) is piloting a process for capturing CO2 from flue gas using chilled ammonia/ammonium carbonate. The estimated cost is somewhere around $15/ton CO2, and it can be applied to existing powdered coal plants. It should be significantly cheaper and more efficient than existing amine-based approaches. Transporting and disposing of the captured compressed CO2 is not included in this cost.


For new plants I've seen numbers as low as two cents a Kwh (including transportation) depending on location. All we're really lacking is political will (is that an oxymoron?) and public education.

Bill Young

I don't believe CC is as simple as throwing money at it. Large scale CC is not a mature technology.

Depleted gas and oil wells have been discussed as has subsea injection. The long term safety and efficacy are still not established.


Sometimes it is good to go top down and bottom up in an analysis. If the customer will not pay 2x or 3x times as much, why bother with a study. If they are willing to pay 20% to 30% more, then maybe a study is warranted.

Rafael Seidl

CO2 injection into older oil fields is actually a tertiary production strategy, since it reduces the viscosity of the stuff still in the ground. It makes sense if the typically also present natural gas can be sold or, if this natural gas is economically depleted sooner than the oil.

Sequestration in depleted natural gas fields or brine aquifers would not yield additional hydrocarbons. Neither would carbon sequestration in the form of artificial limestone reefs in the oceans, a concept that has received little attention.


Such reefs require a scaffolding of electrical conductors and, (solar) electricity. However, they also represent nurseries for depleted fish stocks. Done right, these nurseries could create compensating income for the operator.

If the design incorporates floatation devices for buoyancy, a conveyor belt strategy would permit the oldest of these floating reefs could periodically be sunk beyond the continental shelf, taking any accreted biomass (corals etc) down with them.

Paul Dietz

Neither would carbon sequestration in the form of artificial limestone reefs in the oceans, a concept that has received little attention.

As I understand it, you actually want to dissolve limestone in order to sequester CO2 in the ocean. The reaction is:

CaCO3 + H2O + CO2 --> Ca(+2) + 2 HCO3(-).

Increasing the concentration of bicarbonate in the ocean will decrease the concentration of both carbonate and dissolved CO2, increasing the capacity of the ocean to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Removing the carbon as carbonate without adding additional non-hydrogen anions would actually be counterproductive.

There is a patent on this idea. It's also how the ocean's pH is naturally buffered in the medium term (long term, silicate weathering adds new anions).

Paul Dietz

Um, I meant cations, not anions.

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