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Are we finally mainstreaming CCUS?

The 12th Clean Energy Ministerial, or CEM, meeting took place the whole of last week, 31 May to 6 June, hosted by the Government of Chile and its Ministerio de Energia, under the dynamic leadership of Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet. CEM's innovation sister organisation, Mission Innovation, also held its annual ministerial meeting.


75% of global CO2 emissions come from CEM countries – and they also make 90% of all clean energy investment in the world. CEM is therefore a very relevant global clean energy coalition.


I really hope you had a chance to follow some of last week's events, during what was nothing short of an amazing clean energy festival.


All clean energy technologies and sectors were represented, in addition to various cross-cutting themes such as finance, inclusivity, youth in clean energy, innovation systems etc. Some events were part of the "auditorium" programme (the "official" scheduling), and more content was uploaded in the on-demand section. For several more days, you can still catch all of it here: cem12mi6chile.com.


The CEM CCUS Initiative offered three CCUS-specific side-events at the 12th CEM - check the recordings via the below links:


1. A ministerial fireside chat on CCUS deployment policy: Preceded by three ministerial and high-level interventions by the US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei and Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, we proceeded to a panel discussion featuring Vicki Hollub, President and CEO of Occidental Petroleum, Zoë Knight, MD for Sustainable Finance at HSBC, Khalid Abuleif, Saudi Arabia's Chief Climate Negotiator and Anders Hoffmann, Deputy Permanent Secretary at Denmark's Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities. These countries are committed to driving CCUS forward, with targets and/or new policy measures. It was also excellent to hear how the finance sector is keen to be an agent for change in energy, including in carbon capture.

2. "CCUS 101" – how is CO2 captured and stored?: In this event, we presented a world-class panel of experts to talk about why we need CCUS, how it all works and where we are today with industrial projects. Samantha McCulloch, IEA's Head of CCUS, Tim Dixon, General Manager of IEAGHG and Brad Page, CEO of GCCSI, provided their expert views in this crash course on carbon capture, directed towards the generalist CEM audience. Thank you for providing your expertise!

3. Stakeholder testimonies: How can my organisation accelerate CCUS?: In this series of testimonies, we gathered views from different types of organisations involved in carbon capture. We heard from Yongping Zhai, Energy Sector Chief of the Asian Development Bank, Beth Valiaho, Vice President at the International CCS Knowledge Centre, Allard Castelein, CEO of Port of Rotterdam, Fiona Wild, Senior Vice President at BHP and finally the entire top management of the Global Cement and Concrete Association. The viewpoints are diverse and it was great to be able to highlight how banks, ports and major industries can all play their part in accelerating CCUS. Thank you for your important testimonies!


And our Initiative was not the only group that prepared CCUS events: Gassnova and Research Council of Norway also put together a really useful event on collaboration in CCUS RD&D.


In addition to the events, the CEM-12 organisers had put together a rich document library. We posted the recent CSLF Technology Roadmap and a related 2-page summary for policy-makers. Please have a look at these documents - and feel free to browse through the whole library here: CEM-12 Library.


The ministerial plenary meeting on Thursday 3 June, open to all, offered a series of interventions by ministers and international thought leaders. IEA's Fatih Birol reiterated the key messages from the recent net-zero scenario: we need to work on both making the most of technologies that are already available, and at the same time speed up the innovation on those technologies that are in pilot or concept phase – this is because today's known technologies alone will not be enough to achieve net-zero. Direct air capture of CO2 was explicitly cited as one of the key technologies.


CCUS was mentioned by several ministers during the plenary. Australia listed the key technologies into which the country will invest AUD 20bn during this decade, including CCUS. Japan stressed the need for the country to employ a balanced energy mix including decarbonising fossil fuel use with CCUS and carbon recycling technologies. China stressed the need to accelerate CCUS (and has for the first time explicitly included it in the five year plan), while the United Arab Emirates reiterated the plan to increase its carbon capture from 800kt per year to 5Mt by 2030, a 500% increase. Saudi Arabia recalled the important role of a circular carbon economy concept, launched at last year's G20 summit. Brazil mentioned the plan to ensure that a robust legal and regulatory framework be in place for CO2 storage.


Countries around the North Sea showed a particularly strong front on carbon capture. Denmark highlighted the role of CCUS (more below), the Netherlands announced the EUR 2bn support package to the Porthos project in Rotterdam, designed to capture 2.5Mt CO2 from industries in the port zone starting 2024 (and note that this is just one-third of the governments total annual CCUS target). And of course, Norway continues to highlight the Longship project, and rightly so, as it can be a true game-changer providing a CO2 transport and storage solution for so many industries in Northern Europe, around the Baltic Sea and beyond.


While not pointing to CCUS specifically, several other countries also mentioned key areas where carbon capture could well play a role: deep industrial decarbonisation in steel, cement, petrochemicals was stressed e.g. by India, Sweden and Germany, clean hydrogen by Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal, power-to-X by my native Finland.


Another important constituency is our youth, a theme very strongly present at this year's ministerial. The CEM12 "Youth Survey", undertaken ahead of the CEM week, listed most important clean energy solutions that need to be scaled up during this decade. On the list of technologies, CCUS was firmly mentioned, after energy efficiency, solar, storage and wind energy. It is positive to see that CCUS is being considered as part of the solution by the new generations. More generally, I strongly urge you to go into the CEM-12 site via the above link and do a search for "youth". In addition to events, you will see documents written by young people from across the world, demanding their place in the clean energy table. We in the CCUS community should really jointly discuss how we best ensure that we actively listen to them and engage with the future generations.


It was also great to see how some "new" CCUS countries are stepping up. For example, Denmark, who until relatively recently was very sceptical about carbon capture (to the extent that storing CO2 was made illegal) is now very actively pursuing CCUS as part of their clean energy portfolio, with industrial hubs being actively developed. A full strategy and incentive package will be presented this summer, as mentioned at our high-level side-event by Anders Hoffman, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities. During the ministerial plenary, Denmark's energy and climate minister Dan Jørgensen took an employment angle to CCUS: the workforce that used to extract oil and gas in Denmark will in the future be "putting carbon back into the ground and working on CCUS" as fossil fuel extraction will end in the country.


All in all, CCUS was very present in the proceedings of the CEM week, which was very positive. To an extent it felt as if CCUS was part of mainstream discussions – for the first time really! There were no debates for or against, only a very clear general understanding that "clean energy" includes a vast array of technologies and policy approaches, the combination of which gets tailored by each country. CCUS was definitely not center-stage, nor does it need to be. But having it part of a fact-based discussion and a range of options is important. CEM's other work streams on Deep Industry Decarbonisation and Clean Hydrogen will also be considering the role of carbon capture - we have already offered our collaboration.


It was also very interesting to see that the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA have a place for carbon capture in their new scenarios. IRENA is unlikely to start making a big case for CCUS, but recognising that carbon capture has a place in the portfolio is helpful. Members of the CEM CCUS Initiative and the wider CCUS community should discuss more with IRENA going forward. The need to build CO2 transport and storage infrastructure to serve all kinds of carbon capture projects, and to advance BECCS, BiCRS and direct air capture would probably be areas of common interest.


As regards the Clean Energy Ministerial process as a whole, some important decisions were also made. Firstly, Members decided to extend the CEM mandate by five (5!) more years, stressing that he CEM process is pivotal in its leadership to drive clean energy collaboration. Members decided that the CEM should help achieve a major acceleration in clean energy deployment over the next five years, helping "supercharge scale, sectors and society" to redouble efforts.


The CEM family also grew by two countries, as Poland and Portugal officially joined. The United States will host next year's meeting, and India will play host in 2023. So all in all, the CEM train is moving on, at a growing speed!


As is often the case when an uplifting work event ends and it's "time to go home" (in our times this means mentally), you get the feeling that it all ended a touch too soon. This was certainly my feeling last Friday evening after the closing ceremony ended. I hope the feeling stays, as it will serve as a reminder of how great this global clean energy community gathered under the CEM really is, and how much it can achieve. And how much we are still at the start of the clean energy journey, as close to 80% of our primary energy still comes from fossil sources...


Chile's Ministerio de Energia and the Clean Energy Ministerial Secretariat team deserve big thanks for putting together an amazing 12th CEM meeting. Looking forward to CEM-13 in the US next year!


Juho Lipponen

Coordinator of CEM CCUS Initiative


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