Last week, the Global CCS Institute held the ‘CCS Talks: The Technology Cost Curve’ webinar. The Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) debate can often tend to focus on the large initial cost consideration which has, in turn, marginalised the technology as a low-carbon option.
The webinar provided an important balance to this perception by exploring the demonstrated cost reduction trend in established CCS technologies and the significant potential for further cost reductions and diverse applications provided by new CCS technologies.
Project learning has delivered significant cost improvements in large-scale CCS plants. Learning by doing associated with the Boundary Dam and Petra Nova CCS facilities has delivered significant cost improvements, particularly relating in the capital cost component.
Adapting design, construction and operations from previous learnings has reduced the costs of future CCS facilities. For example, SaskPower reported that, based on project learning from Boundary Dam, costs were reduced by up to 30% on new CCS power projects. Further, the CCS feasibility study for the Shand power plant, was based on a 67% reduction in capital costs and a levelised capture cost of USD45 per tonne CO2.
Modularisation involves breaking down a system or segment, either physically or digitally, into smaller component parts that can be subsequently re-assembled as required. This process has been applied successfully in many areas of coal-fired power plant operations to date.
Modularisation provides significant cost improvements to CCS deployment through:
CCS technologies can provide numerous applications alongside emissions capture. For example, CCS and associated CO2 conversion can provide:
Great deployment needed
Discussions regarding CCS are often far too distracted by cost misconceptions. Further to the need to reframe CCS in terms of its benefits, rather than costs, significant developments in CCS cost reduction are becoming evident.
Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement will cost around 2.5% of global gross domestic product. Previous scenario planning has shown this cost will rise exponentially if CCUS is not widely deployed. And major breakthroughs and cost reductions will likely best be delivered through deployment. As demonstrated with solar and wind, technology develops along a relatively standard track: nascent technology costs are typically high; technology develops and efficiency is enhanced through R&D; cost reductions come from economies of scale and learnings through experience. Evidence to date suggest that CCUS is no different. It is therefore vital for CCS deployment to increase to ensure we can meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.