2017 has just begun and yet is already looking very promising.
The year has started positively with news that United States has launched its very first carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) project. The launch of the Petra Nova CCUS facility in Texas is great news not only for CCUS but also more widely for our global efforts to cut CO2 emissions. Meeting the 2-degree target will be impossible without the wide deployment of CCUS.
Petra Nova is the world's largest post-combustion carbon capture facility installed on an existing coal-fuelled power plant and plans to store more than 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year. This coal plant is an important milestone in the field of CCUS technology and progress doesn’t stop there. We’re also expecting the launch of the Kemper County CCUS project shortly, also in the USA.
These positive CCUS developments are not confined to the USA. News of an unsubsidised, fully commercial CCUS facility in India signalled another boost to the technology. The CCUS project from Carbon Clean Solutions in the port of Tuticorin has been able to significantly reduce the costs associated with capturing the CO2. India has huge energy needs that can only be met with all sources of energy, including coal. Being able to deploy cost-effective CCUS will enable India to meet energy needs as well climate targets.
With these CCUS developments – alongside the landmark Boundary Dam CCS project in Canada - surely we can now put to bed the accusations that CCUS isn’t ‘real’. It’s now evident that with political and financial support, alongside policy parity with other low emission technologies, the deployment of CCUS technology will become more widespread.
And it has to. The International Energy Agency has forecast that 12% of emissions reductions by 2050 must come from CCUS in order to meet the 2 degree scenario.
This Friday see the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new US President. There is an opportunity for the new Administration to revisit some of the policies that have hindered access to both affordable energy and all low-emission technologies. The big bet for the new administration will be to adopt a global leadership role and demonstrate that it is possible to provide affordable energy from coal and utilise technologies that significantly reduce emissions. Energy and climate don’t have to be competing priorities; a technology-neutral view towards cutting CO2 emissions is possible with the use of cleaner coal technologies.
Renewables alone are not the solution. An intermittent energy source cannot satisfy the continuous demand for energy. With all the progress we are seeing on CCUS, we hope that in 2017 policy makers will focus on practical action to meet our energy and environmental goals. Industry has pushed CCS forwards and it's time for governments to step up and support all low emission technologies. Let's hope that 2017 is the year when policy parity for all low emission technologies stops being on the wish-list and becomes a reality. We will then be a step closer to meeting the 2 degrees climate target set in the Paris Agreement.
2017 looks very promising indeed.