Planned carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity has increased by 33% year-on-year, according to a report released today.

The Global Status of CCS Report 2020, by the Global CCS Institute think tank, shows 65 CCS projects at various stages of development. Along with operational CCS plants, these would capture more than 110 megatonnes per annum (Mtpa) of CO₂.

In his foreword, Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page welcomed CCS funding increases, part of global coronavirus recovery packages. He continued: “As we have reported for the past two years, the pipeline of operating and in development CCS facilities around the world is again growing. This year continues the upward trajectory.”

Between 2011 and 2017, total planned and operational CCS capacity fell to approximately 60 Mtpa, less than half of its peak. The report attributes this fall to short-term recovery efforts after the global financial crisis.

Since then, the sector has quickly brought about renewed interest. The total planned and operational CCS capacity increased by more than 20 Mtpa in 2020, compared with 2019.

The institute puts this increase down to increased urgency around minimising climate change. As part of this, the need to address ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors, such as steel production, has become “more pressing and less often postponed”. Despite the increase, there is less capacity under construction than at any time in the last decade.

Page said: “Just considering the role for CCS implied by the IPCC 1.5 Special Report, somewhere between 350 and 1200 gigatonnes of CO2 will need to be captured and stored this century. Currently, some 40 megatonnes of CO2 are captured and stored annually. This must increase at least 100-fold by 2050 to meet the scenarios laid out by the IPCC.”

Future CCS pipeline will seek innovation – report

In the 2020 pipeline, 12 of the 17 planned CCS facilities come from the US. The country has significant porous rock deposits for CCS, and the report says it has twice the potential CCS storage of the rest of the world combined.

Future modular plants promise to minimise the cost of CCS. As an example, the report presents Aker Carbon Capture, which manufactures two standardised absorption-based CCS plants. The company will install its first modular plant in late 2021, at the Twence Waste-to-Energy plant in the Netherlands.

Other advances, such as better adsorbent or solvent materials for capturing carbon, also promise greater CCS efficiency.

While parts of the report welcome the growth of environmentally-conscious ESG funds, the report also highlights ‘several market failures’ that limit private investment. These include the value of CO₂ remaining too low.

Citing a 2017 Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition report, the CCS Institute report states: “In most jurisdictions, the cost of capture, transportation and storage of CO₂ is greater than the value currently placed on it. The carbon price needed to cost-effectively reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement is estimated at $40-80 per tonne of CO₂ by 2020 and $50-100 per tonne by 2030.”

Besides this, the interdependency of CCS clusters and local businesses presents risks, as well as the unlimited liability of CO₂ leakage.