The Role of CCS
There is an increasing recognition that technology developments have to be part of the solution to climate change. This is particularly true for coal because its use is growing in so many large economies, including China and India. In recent years, coal use has risen at an average rate of 4.9% per year; faster than any other fuel.
World primary energy demand continues to rise, mainly driven by the growing energy needs of developing countries. Latest projections forecast energy growth to rise 40% between 2007 and 2030. Almost 90% of this increased energy demand is driven by the needs of developing countries, fuelling economic growth and increased standards of living. China and India alone will account for over 50% of the total increase. Coal use is forecast to rise by over 60% over this same period, with developing countries responsible for 97% of this increase, primarily to meet increased rates of electrification.
International climate change goals can only be achieved if emissions from fossil fuels are drastically reduced. While increasing how efficiently fossil fuels are used is important, CCS is the only currently available technology that can align the increased use of fossil fuels with climate change goals. CCS is needed to reduce emissions from a range of industrial sectors including, coal- and gas-fired power generation, petroleum refining, iron and steel production, cement manufacturing and chemicals production.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that CCS can contribute between 15-55% of the cumulative emission reduction effort to 2100, providing it with a central role within a portfolio of low carbon technologies needed to address climate change.
Is CCS ready?
CCS is not a new or emerging technology. There are decades of operational experience from industrial-scale CCS projects, underground injection of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, and the use of technologies analogous to CCS, such as acid gas injection and natural gas storage. These industrial level experiences are complemented by numerous research-scale CCS projects, intergovernmental and industry partnerships, research programmes and stakeholder networks.
While all the elements of CCS have been separately proven and deployed in various fields of commercial activity, a key step is the successful integration of large-scale CCS systems. The Boundary Dam CCS project - the world's first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project - is due to launch later in 2014 and will be a key step in pushing CCS forwards.
Current CCS deployment rates are too slow to allow global GHG emissions reductions goals to be achieved. They must be accelerated significantly. Carbon markets, the primary current mechanism for driving emissions reductions, will not deliver CCS within the time period and at the scale needed.
The limited number of industrial-scale CCS plants currently operating globally is primarily a result of public policy expecting CCS to be delivered by the private sector, while at the same time failing to address the barriers which are inhibiting CCS deployment. Norway - a pioneer of CCS - has used the technology since 1996 as the country has a clear CO2 management policy along with government support for the technology. It is essential that countries develop enabling frameworks that address the barriers limiting CCS so that it can be deployed at the scale required.
An important step in pushing the wider deployment of CCS has been the establishment of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI). The GCCSI was formed in September 2008 and receives annual funding of A$100 million a year from the Australian government. It supports international efforts to deploy commercial-scale CCS projects by 2020 and aims to be an international "go-to" place for CCS services and advice (WCA is a founding member of GCCSI).
Average Annual Power Plant Investment Needed Between 2010 - 2050 to Reduce Emissions by 50% from Current Levels