The acceleration of CCUS technology is critical to reducing and removing carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions to tackle the climate crisis.

It helps achieve climate goals.

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), summarizes its findings into seven pathways for limiting global temperature rise to less than 2°C. Six of the seven mitigation pathways include some level of CCUS and CO2 removal. There is a broad range of deployment levels for CCUS, with a median average of 665 gigatonnes of CO2 that needs to be captured and stored this century. 

CCUS is also highly versatile. It enables CO2 emissions reductions across the biggest GHG-emitting sectors including power, industry, and fuel and it can also deliver CO2 removals. The technologies have been proven and can be used in combination with other approaches and technologies to maximize GHG reductions.

CCUS is the most mature and cost-effective solutions to reducing emissions from industries such as iron and steel, cement, and chemicals. These sectors are among the hardest to decarbonize due to their industrial processes and high-temperature heat requirements, both of which emit CO2. Achieving net-zero emissions in hard-to-abate industries like these may be impossible or, at best, significantly more expensive without CCUS.

CCUS plays an important role in two key ways.

  1. CCUS-equipped fossil fuel power plants are able to supply flexible, low-carbon electricity that complements the intermittent nature of many renewables, such as solar and wind. This enables power grids to decarbonize and maintain their reliability and resilience while also bringing in new technologies such as energy storage to address intermittency.
  2. CCUS can significantly reduce emissions from the global fossil fuel power fleet. Without CCUS retrofit or early retirement, coal- and gas-fired power stations – current and under construction – will emit CO2 at rates that do not align with achieving net-zero.

CCUS deployed at point sources provides the foundation for technology-based carbon dioxide removal. This includes techniques that remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere such as bioenergy with CCUS (BECCS) and direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS). Investment in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure today will benefit carbon dioxide removal in the future as they will utilize the same infrastructure.

It's proven.

CCUS technologies have been in use since the 1970s, and more than 260 million tonnes of CO2 has already been safely injected underground. Currently, there are more than 40 large-scale, commercial CCUS facilities in operation across the globe.

With more than 12,000 billion tonnes of potential CO2 resources identified, there is an abundance of underground storage resources. Most of the world’s key CO2 storage basins have been assessed, and almost every high-emitting nation has demonstrated substantial storage potential.

According to the IPCC, CO2 retained in appropriately selected and managed geological reservoirs is very likely to exceed 99% over 100 years and is likely to exceed 99% over 1,000 years.

It helps the economy.

CCUS is a critical component in the production of low-carbon hydrogen, which may be an essential energy source for residential heating and flexible power generation in the energy transition.

CO2 utilization will also expand investment in carbon capture technologies and can allow businesses to engage in the circular carbon economy.

One of the main challenges to the energy transition is that job losses from high emissions industries may be concentrated in one place. In contrast, low-carbon industry jobs are created elsewhere. Even where geography is not a barrier, mass job losses are rarely followed quickly by wide-scale opportunities. CCUS enables a smoother transition by allowing existing industries to transform to low-carbon opportunities and make sustained contributions to local economies while moving toward net-zero.

The IPCC found it would be 138% more expensive to reach global climate goals without the deployment of CCUS, on average across the models examined.

The exact cost of CCUS varies based on the project. In general, the higher the concentration of the CO2 in the flue gas waste stream, the lower the cost to capture. Indeed, the IEA has estimated that as much as 450 mt of CO2 can be captured and stored globally with a commercial incentive as low as $40 per tonne of CO2. In some applications, such as natural gas processing, ethanol, and fertilizer production, the cost of CCUS can be as low as $20 per tonne of CO2.

Technology improvements and economies of scale will also drive costs further down as successive CCUS facilities come online. We have already seen this in the past decade as the cost of capture reduced from over $100 per tonne at the Boundary Dam facility (2014) to below $65 per tonne for the Petra Nova facility (2017).

More Information

What is CCUS?

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a suite of technologies that can achieve significant emissions reductions, and is considered a critical tool for tackling climate change and reducing emissions.

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CCUS and Climate Change

Climate change is the most urgent challenge facing humanity today, and the science is clear that we must use every tool at our disposal to avoid the worst of its impacts. CCUS plays an essential role in mitigating climate change, complementing energy efficiency, renewable power, electrification, nature-based solutions and other approaches.