New IEAGHG Technical Report: 2022-09 Defining the Value of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage for a Low-Carbon Future

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By Keith Burnard

11 August 2022

To limit global warming to well below 2°C, countries must achieve net-zero emissions by around mid-century. The energy transition needed to achieve this goal presents a daunting task for most countries. To help inform the energy transition, IAMs have been used to identify the lowest-cost mitigation pathways for countries to achieve economy-wide, net-zero emissions. Under the current paradigm, there is a severe risk that mitigation plans will be based entirely around techno-economic assessments. However, the identification of a cost-optimal pathway reveals little about the feasibility of its implementation or of its economy-wide impact.

To achieve net-zero emissions by around mid-century, robust mitigation strategies will be required that work not only from a techno-economic or cost perspective but also from social, political and environmental perspectives. Without a more comprehensive, holistic assessment of the potential value of different mitigation options, the best-laid net-zero energy transitions strategies may be vulnerable to unanticipated (but, in many cases, avoidable) setbacks. They will also need to work at different levels, from the global to the company level. Developing a broader and deeper understanding of the potential ‘value’ of different mitigation options is one way to assess their robustness.

In this study, a more comprehensive assessment of the value of CO2 capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology was investigated. It was found that CCUS deployment created value from techno-economic, socio-technical and environmental standpoints and, in many cases, was found highly likely to enhance the robustness of long-term mitigation strategies and portfolios. Notably, CCUS deployment has the potential to help overcome many of the deployment challenges related to energy transitions, e.g., issues of land availability, siting restrictions, social acceptance and the potential for negative environmental impacts.

As governments commit to policies and develop long-term investment agendas related to energy transitions, it is increasingly important that such assessments are undertaken. In their absence, many parts of the world will be exposed to the risk of failing to achieve their mitigation goals. 

To request a copy of the report, please email tom.billcliff@ieaghg.org with the report reference number (2022-09).

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