How to Jumpstart Carbon Capture and Storage

How to Jumpstart Carbon Capture and Storage

The International Energy Agency estimates that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could contribute 19 percent of the total greenhouse gas emission reductions necessary between now and 2050.

However, in order to make such a contribution, an estimated 3,400 CCS projects would need to be in place, trapping and burrowing away a volume of CO2 equivalent to twice the volume of oil and gas the world currently extracts each year. Existing technologies are insufficient to deliver on this scale.

CCS is a nascent industry facing substantial hurdles. Commercial deployment of this technology involves overcoming a range of challenges, including policy and regulatory obstacles, financial and commercial barriers, technological issues and public acceptance. It will also require unprecedented cooperation between governments and private sector organizations.

{related_content}The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI), whose International Advisory Panel I chair, is an effort to address these very challenges and to ensure that the full potential of CCS is achieved. It was created to bring governments, industry and financial institutions together to galvanize global efforts to demonstrate and deploy CCS technology at an industrial scale.

Central to this work is the need to invest in knowledge development and sharing, and organization analysis. The GCCSI is developing a global knowledge exchange program to coordinate the effective and timely international collection and dissemination of knowledge on CCS technology and implementation.

By analyzing information from a range of sources, including distilling lessons from existing and proposed CCS demonstration projects, the GCCSI seeks to further global knowledge and expertise in this field and to serve as an impartial and trusted advisor to governments and industry in sharing this knowhow.

The GCCSI’s knowledge program will be a broad reaching and dynamic service, drawing on information provided by GCCSI’s 200+ membership, as well as information elicited by region-specific teams that will continue to grow over the next year.  These "local" teams will keep in contact with stakeholders in their jurisdiction and closely monitor developments in their region.

Governments around the world have so far committed an estimated US$16 billion for individual industrial-scale CCS projects.  These projects are already yielding valuable new experience and lessons which GCCSI hopes to leverage. The GCCSI is negotiating the sharing of information from these and future projects with governments from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Norway and the European Economic Commission.

This year, the GCCSI will provide targeted financial support for up to 10 CCS projects around the world to assist companies in targeting specific barriers to their CCS projects.  In turn, the companies will help support the GCCSI’s knowledge development and sharing activities. For instance, some projects are examining industrial uses for CO2, as opposed to having the gas stored.

Carbon capture and storage is not a silver bullet in the fight against climate change, but it could play an integral role in limiting emissions in the decades ahead. 

Given the great barriers facing the commercial deployment of CCS, however, the industry is unlikely to fulfill its potential without a concerted effort to accelerate its development. The GCCSI is committed to achieving this goal and working with its members aspires to see CCS established as one of the new engines of the green economy.

James D. Wolfensohn is chairman of Wolfensohn & Company LLC, a private investment firm and an advisor to corporations and governments. He also chairs the International Advisory Panel of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

The institute holds a members' meeting today and tomorrow in Pittsburgh that is bringing together over 200 members including governments, leading corporations, non-government bodies and research organizations to discuss new approaches to accelerating CCS. GCCSI VP Dale Seymour wrote about the importance of collaboration in the process in a recent post for GreenBiz.com.