Finding that current spending and activity levels to advance carbon dioxide capture and storage are “nowhere near enough to achieve the G8 goals”, a new report from the International Energy Agency calls for up to $20-billion in near-term demonstrations, in addition to plant base costs.
Despite being identified as one of the more promising technological solutions to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate warming, only four full-scale CCS projects exist to date in the world; none of these projects captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from a coal-fired power plant.
The window of opportunity is closing for the global community to cost-effectively address climate change. CCS technologies must play a key role, but first they must be proven in the next decade. If we do not successfully demonstrate CCS soon, it will raise costs significantly for other climate mitigation options.—Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)
The IEA, in its 2008 Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) study, projects that energy-related CO2 emissions would grow by 130% until 2050 in the absence of new policies. This increase would largely be a result of increased fossil fuel usage. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report indicates that such a rise in emissions could lead to a temperature increase in the range of 4-7°C, with major impacts on the environment and human activity.
There is a large consensus that a halving of energy-related CO2 emissions is needed by 2050 to limit the expected temperature increase to less than 3 degrees, the IEA said. In the power and industrial sectors alone, CCS could contribute nearly one-fifth of the reductions needed to halve back greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and this at reasonable cost.
At the 2008 Hokkaido-Toyako summit, the G8 countries announced that 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects must be committed by 2010, with a view to broad commercial deployment in 2020. Ministers asked the IEA to assess how much progress will have been made in terms of implementation by that time.
The report, Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage: A Key Carbon Abatement Option, finds that current CCS spending and activity levels are nowhere near enough to achieve the G8 goals. CCS technology demonstration has been challenged by a global increase in costs and a lack of suitable financial mechanisms to support it. In addition to the $20 billion for near-term demonstrations, the report suggests that it is also important to integrate CCS into greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory and incentive schemes.
While progress is underway in some countries, no country has yet developed the comprehensive, detailed legal and regulatory framework that is necessary to govern effectively the use of CCS. Also, CCS is poorly understood by the general public with the result that there is a wide-spread lack of public support for this technology as compared to several other GHG mitigation options.
Next to an updated analysis on the potential, cost and performance of CCS technologies, the study discusses the financial incentive mechanisms that governments can use, and proposes a CCS Roadmap with the necessary technical, political, financial and international collaboration activities to achieve their emissions reduction goals.