Globally, there are now 18 large scale carbon capture and storage facilities in operation, and approximately the same number proposed for development. SaskPower photo.
IEA sees carbon capture vital to meeting global climate targets
This article was published by the National Energy Board on Jan. 30, 2019.
Canada is a leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) with a number of operating projects and decades of experience in the technology.
CCS separates (or “captures”) CO2 from industrial exhaust, for example, at coal power plants, before injecting it in deep underground rock formations. CCUS “utilizes” CO2 for other things, including enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which is a process of injecting CO2 into declining oil fields to help to recover additional oil from reservoirs.
Western Canadian CCS projects are possible because of a combination of technical expertise, geological suitability for CO2 storage, and legal, regulatory, and policy frameworks.
The number of operating projects continues to grow. In 2014, the SaskPower Boundary Dam power station became the world’s first power plant with CCS. In 2015, the largest CCS project in Canada, Shell’s Quest CSS project began capturing CO2 from a bitumen upgrader near Edmonton and injecting it into an underground reservoir for storage.
The newest project, the Alberta Carbon Truck Line (ACTL), is under construction and is scheduled to be on-stream later in 2019. ACTL will take CO2 from the new Sturgeon refinery and a nearby fertilizer plant, and transport it by pipe 240 kilometres to an EOR project in central Alberta.
The Quest and ACTL projects, at 1.0 and 1.7 million tonnes per year respectively, are injecting the CO2 equivalent emissions of 600 000 cars annually.
Globally, there are now 18 large scale CCS facilities in operation, and approximately the same number proposed for development. Collectively these facilities would capture less than 100 Mt CO2 per year, less than 1 per cent of present global emissions.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) foresee a vital role for CCS/CCUS in meeting global climate targets. In the IEA’s “450 Scenario” outlook, CCS in power and industry would capture 5 100 Mt CO2 per year by 2040. This is a relatively minor amount compared to the CO2 reductions from renewables and efficiency measures, but still significant in terms of reductions.
The extent of CCS development depends heavily on improving technology and reducing costs. A report for the expansion of CCS on a coal-fired power plant in Saskatchewan estimated a 67 per cent cost reduction (USD $45/t) compared to Boundary Dam.
A number of promising technologies are in the research and development stage. If technology improves and costs fall, the CCS market could also move into areas such as conversion to fuel, including methanol and hydrogen, and direct air capture of CO2.
These technologies could result in negative emissions, for example removing CO2 from ambient air. Although, these options are more costly than many readily available technologies for combustion processes.