Global Carbon Capture Plans Increase as COP26 nears

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Global Carbon Capture Plans Increase as COP26 nears

As COP26 nears and global industries focus further on mitigating carbon emissions, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has become a dominant term in the UK. A leading UK carbon capture research firm, the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) has confirmed it will continue its work until 2025 after receiving further funding. 

The organisation intends to increase the UK carbon capture research base and play a key role in developing new high-tech CCS industries. The creation of these new industries will support the levels of CO2 captured and stored in the UK to a forecasted level of 10 million tonnes per year by 2030, compared to a current figure of zero.

Dr Lucy Martin, Deputy Director for Cross-Council Programmes, EPSRC, said, “The UKCCSRC has generated significant impact across technology and policy development and the funding will allow the organisation to build on this success and help the UK achieve its net-zero target by 2050.”

As well as running core CCS-related research programmes, the UKCCSRC aims to maximise their true potential by encouraging collaboration between researchers and industry.

While some believe CCS plants are not the answer, other industry members believe they are critical in supporting us to reach our net-zero goals. Global plans to develop carbon capturing and storage (CCS) facilities have increased considerably over the last year as governments and businesses accelerate every possible way to reduce emissions and tackle global warming by 2050, according to a specialist think tank. 

The Global CCS Institute stated in their annual report that the total capacity of planned projects rose to over 110 million tonnes a year (mtpa) near the end of September, an increase from 73 mtps near the end of 2020. If this was developed, these projects would just about treble the existing 40mtpa of CCS capacity currently in operation. While the capacity keeps increasing, the high costs have prevented many projects from proceeding past the initial planning stage. In just the last week, demolition commenced at a multi-billion dollar power facility in the United States, where costs spiralled so high, forcing regulators to stop the CCS project immediately. 

But the costs of CCS have declined significantly, and at the same time, the pressure for emissions reduction has grown considerably. Alex Zapantis, the general manager for Global CCS Insitute, believes the drivers for the industry have become far stronger in terms of business. 

Costs continue to be dropping, and demand for services to tackle emission reductions are only getting stronger. All of this comes at a time with surging expectations for further climate action by all nations, governments and businesses. We will inevitably experience a rise in these types of projects. Some critics believe CCS is still too expensive and potentially will prolong the lifetime of fossil fuels, but advocates such as the IEA view CCS as a critical option to enable us to meet our net-zero emissions. 

Planned capacity has grown predominantly in North America due to supporting tax credits for CCS, with over 40 projects anticipated for this year. In Europe, stricter emission targets and higher carbon prices have spurred the development of 35 projects across the region. The UK, Belgium and the Netherlands developed 17 projects this year. Elsewhere, the Asia-Pacific region focuses on developing new projects, with Indonesia and Malaysia recently launching more sites. 

The Institute’s CCS projects report is generally published annually but was released earlier this year to coincide with the upcoming COP26 UN climate talks. The climate summit has the potential to support the business case for CCS projects if governments can agree on a timeline and structure that includes the values of CCS along with other sources of emission reduction.

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