The Energy Transition Commission (ETC) estimates that emission reduction through the prioritisation of three key technologies – clean electrification, hydrogen and bio energy – could account for over 90 per cent of the mid-century energy mix. Together, along with improved energy efficiency, they could reduce CO2 emissions from the energy, building, industry and transport sectors from around 35Gt today to below 5 Gt by 2050. But however aggressively pursued, they cannot achieve either an absolutely zero carbon economy by mid-century nor a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

The recently launched paper on Carbon Dioxide Removals (CDR) by ETC estimated that 70-225 Gt of CO2 removals will be required between now and 2050, with an ongoing rate of 3-5 Gt per annum thereafter. Many of these removals can be achieved via “natural climate solutions” such as reforestation, but removals which involve “engineered” approaches to capture and/or to storage will also be required.

To address this, this report from ETC looks into “The role of Carbon Capture and Utilisation or Storage in the energy transition”. According to the report, carbon capture and use of storage (CCUS) as an engineered approach must play two vital but limited roles in carbon dioxide removals:

  • To reduce emissions to net zero in some sectors where alternatives are likely to be either technically impossible or much more expensive
  • To deliver some of the carbon removals that are required in addition to rapid decarbonisation if global climate objectives are to be achieved

The report assesses that by 2050, the world will likely need to capture and either use or store 7-11 Gt/year of CO2, out of which 3-5 Gt/year will be needed to achieve net zero emissions in applications where the use of electricity, hydrogen, or bio energy cannot provide a complete solution to decarbonisation. It has concluded that CCUS can be technically safe and be achieved at costs which enable it to play an economically valuable role on the path to net zero, provided strong regulations are in place. It has also identified that that the current pace of development of CCUS is far short of what is required. The low investment in the technology reflects past confusions about where CCUS is most needed, inadequate investment, and controversies which have generated public opposition.

 

Read the full report here

 

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