IEEFA report critical of CCS – but it presents a misleading picture


By James Craig

8 September 2022

A recent critical report published by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), entitled “The Carbon Capture Crux”, has poured considerable scepticism on CCS as a viable mitigation option. The report, apparently written by two energy analysts with backgrounds in economics and finance, focuses on the under achievement of leading demonstration projects. There is, however, a lack of appreciation anywhere that these are first-of-a-kind projects designed to test concepts at industrial scale. As with all technology development, valuable lessons on performance have been acquired that can be applied to future projects. Some criticisms clearly demonstrate a lack of even basic technical knowledge about CCS. There is an assertion that leakage from storage sites could be a serious problem despite the lack of evidence. The report also mentions the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site leak as an example of a serious release of gas from an underground storage site. It failed to explain or distinguish between the cyclical operation of a natural gas storage site and CO2 injection into a designated reservoir for permanent retention.

Reports of this nature can present a misleading picture. The authors assume CCS can never be made to become more efficient or more economic, contrary to the considerable research, development and demonstration to achieve these aims. There also needs to be a broader appreciation that the global economy is still heavily reliant on fossil-fuel power generation and hydrocarbon feedstocks. Moreover, quantification of the magnitude of any replacement such as renewables to either completely replace fossil fuels, or the practicality of trying to implement such a transition, without fossil-fuels, hydrocarbon based materials or other essential mineral resources needs more urgent attention. 

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