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Massive carbon capture growth in 2020 still isn’t enough, report finds

Image credit: reuters

The number of carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities operating globally has increased by a third in the last year, although this is far from what is required to meet climate goal, the Global CCS Institute has said.

In its annual report, it found that a total of 65 commercial CCS facilities are in various stages of development globally.

But while the acceleration of CCS adoption is promising, deployment of the technology is not happening quickly enough to reach 2050 climate goals.

Estimates suggest CCS facilities will need to increase by more than a hundredfold by mid-century to help the world reach carbon neutrality. The report echoes findings by the IPCC, which shows that CCS is vital to meet net-zero Paris climate targets.

“Climate ambition, including efforts to decarbonise industry, has not been curtailed despite the adversities faced in 2020”, the think tank’s CEO Brad Page said.

“We’re continuing to see an upward trajectory in the amount of CO2 capture and storage infrastructure that is being developed. One of the largest factors driving this growth is recognition that achieving net-zero emissions is urgent yet unattainable without CO2 reductions from energy-intensive sectors.”

Commitments to reach net-zero emissions saw significant support over the last year from governments and businesses alike, particularly in Europe and in Asia Pacific.

The CCS facility pipeline continued to grow three years in a row, with global capture and storage capacity nearly doubling within three years and increasing by 33 per cent since 2019.

Almost 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are being captured annually from 26 commercial CCS facilities currently in operation, the report found

The US, which is already home to the highest number of operational CCS facilities, continues its lead in the global CCS league and hosts 12 of the 17 new commercial facilities added to the project pipeline in 2020. This is largely due to supportive policies, including enhanced tax credits and the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, which are more generous than in other countries.

This year saw increased ambition and support for CCS in Europe as well. Notably the Norwegian government is pressing ahead with the Langskip project, and funding for CCS infrastructure was earmarked in the UK’s spring Budget, with the goal of developing several hubs and clusters over the next decade.

“Even as the year comes to a close, commitments to reach net-zero climate targets and scale up climate mitigating technologies continue to build momentum”, said Guloren Turan, one of the authors of the report.

“Last month we saw the UK government earmark £1bn with the goal of developing four hub and clusters by the end of the decade. In Asia Pacific, we saw national governments in China, Japan and South Korea commit to net-zero climate targets. Industrial decarbonisation is central to reaching carbon neutral goals and CCS has been, and will continue to be, a key component in making that happen.”

A study in May found that the current rate of growth in the installed capacity of CCS is on track to meet some of the targets identified by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It suggested that research and commercial efforts should focus on maintaining this growth while identifying enough underground space to store this much CO2.

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