- Renewable energy alone will not be sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord, an industry group focused on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) concluded in a report released yesterday at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany.
- In order to meet the goals, the report finds that more than 2,000 CCS facilities will be needed by 2040, and that 14% of the pact's cumulative emissions reductions will need to come from the technology.
- While CCS is technically feasible, there are widespread concerns in the power industry as to its cost-competitiveness. Two years ago, a University of Michigan study concluded CCS technology was far more expensive than previously believed, and both solar and wind generation could be at or below the same cost.
Carbon capture and sequestration faces growing challenges from low gas prices and declining costs of renewable energy, but an industry group representing the technology says more of the projects are desperately needed to arrest climate change.
“In the past year, we have seen significant advances in the number of facilities being deployed, and awareness of CCS as a pivotal climate change solution is the highest it has ever been," Global CCS CEO Brad Page said in a statement.
Page said two large-scale facilities came onstream in the United States, and eight have moved into various stages of development in China and Europe. "We have seen realization that CCS is the only technology capable of decarbonizing industry and creating a new energy economy," he said.
The report notes the Petra Nova Carbon Capture project in Texas came online this year "on schedule and on budget," and that the Lake Charles Methanol project is backed by a provisional $2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Over the summer, however, Southern Co. pulled the plug on its Kemper integrated gasification combined cycle project in Mississippi. The project's CCS equipment was never able to run consistently. The Kemper project was supposed to turn coal from an adjacent lignite mine into gas to fuel a 582 MW power plant and capture as much as 65% of the carbon dioxide that the plant would have emitted. It will now run on natural gas instead.
But supporters of CCS say while the future is likely to be all about rewnewable energy, CCS technology is still needed.
The CCS group's announcement included a statement from Julio Friedmann, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy. Current policies in most jurisdictions are short-sighted and biased against CCS, he said.
“All the benefits commonly cited for renewables and nuclear, such as native industrial support, cost reduction, and emissions reduction, apply to CCS/[Carbon Capture, Use and Storage] as well. Attention must be paid, and speed is needed," Friedmann said.
According to Global CCS, without carbon capture and use technology, the price of meeting global targets will double, costing the United States about $3.5 trillion extra.