Why Collaboration is Key to Successful Carbon Capture and Storage

Why Collaboration is Key to Successful Carbon Capture and Storage

Ten years ago carbon capture and storage, or CCS, was virtually unheard of. There were idle mentions of this new technology in the media, and industry was only just beginning to understand the potential for it.

Today, CCS is discussed by industry leaders, NGOs and governments as critical to reducing emissions and contributing to national and global energy security. CCS is a topic for debate and real planning for financiers, economists, scientists and sociologists alike. And well it should be.

CCS is as it rightly should be all about energy, and energy security does and will continue to remain at the forefront of the U.S. and global political agenda. It will remain a priority for corporations, executives and boards as they seek to manage risk and shareholder value, and it will remain a focus for NGOs as they contemplate how to influence environmental policies on behalf of their constituents.

Daniel Yergin, the famous economics researcher and energy markets historian, once said that energy security means something different to everyone, but through time its solution has always been about a diversification of supplies and sources.

{related_content}The challenge we face today is how to ensure that CCS becomes a part of the diverse energy supply portfolio in the U.S. and globally in the immediate future -- and that it lives up to its potential and plays a significant role in helping reduce emissions in the long term. This challenge defines the role of the Global CCS Institute, a role we are taking steps to fulfill by collaborating with our member countries and organizations.

The major challenges to the development and deployment of CCS projects are not insurmountable, but they are real.

The obstacles are not geological -- we know it can be done. The barrier is not the absence of technical solutions -- it is clear that the individual states of CCS are viable. The major hurdles involve what happens above the ground: policy, regulation, finance, public awareness, capacity building and knowledge sharing. The challenge is to address these issues to create the conditions for the integration of these technologies at commercial scale and across a variety of applications.

James Schlesinger, who served as the first U.S. energy secretary, once said there seemed to be only two ways of thinking about energy -- "complacency and panic." CCS cannot afford either of these approaches if it is to become part of this country's energy future, or if it is to be embraced as part of a global solution.

If CCS is to make a genuine contribution to reducing emissions and delivering greater energy security, a massive task looms not just for the institute but for all our members, and in fact for the entire CCS community. This is a task that requires delivery not over the next few years but the next four decades.

If CCS is to make a difference the IEA estimates that 100 industrial scale projects may be needed by 2020, and 3,400 by 2050. This equates to flow rates surpassing the global oil and gas industry, over U.S. $2 trillion in investment, and an average of over 100 new projects per year between 2020 and 2050.

This is not a time for complacency. This is the time for translating political will into steel in the ground. Some may say this requires innovation. I don't disagree with that, but there is plenty of innovation in America and indeed around the world. Innovation is not holding us back. This task requires a new kind of collaboration. And this is needed among governments, industries and institutions.

For CCS though, collaboration can't just be a buzz word. At the institute every issue, every work plan and every strategy has and will continue to be built around this need to work together. It is what binds the Institute together with its members, and it is essential to achieving the industry's goals.

They say that in musical collaboration, one has to like each other and it's as simple as that. Collaboration on CCS is I'm afraid a little bit more involved. In most instances collaboration requires a helping hand.

The institute is seeking to provide this helping hand, to set the frameworks for this collaboration to take place and to help catalyze the industry into action. These frameworks consist of concrete plans to guide our actions for the next three to four years and to tackle the issues that can propel our industry into being or act as hurdles stopping our progress.

Many are blatantly aware of what the issues are that stand in the way of a commercial CCS industry. What is needed is to take that next step beyond awareness and create the means and pathways for those within the industry to contribute to making the extraordinary happen.

There is no doubt in my mind that the institute will play a defining role over the next few years in leading a unique program of work that will help the U.S. CCS industry. This contribution of ours and the collaboration of our U.S. and global members is evidence of a strategic approach to energy security rather than what James Schlesinger referred to as "complacency and panic."

Dale Seymour is the senior vice president of strategy for the
Global CCS Institute. The institute holds a members' meeting May 13 and 14 in Pittsburgh that will bring together over 200 members including governments, leading corporations, non-government bodies and research organizations to discuss new approaches to accelerating CCS.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user es74273.