New IEAGHG Technical Review: Towards improved guidelines for cost evaluation of carbon capture and storage

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By Keith Burnard

11 August 2021

One of the key barriers to the wide scale application of CCS is cost. Understanding the costs of CCS is essential to understand the role for and potential of CCS technology in addressing climate change, and for guidance in research activities aiming to reduce the cost and improve the performance of promising new CCS technologies in different applications. In practice, however, there are many challenges in establishing reliable cost estimates for CCS technologies.

Following the 10th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies in 2010 (GHGT-10), the CCS Cost Network was formed, with a Steering Group comprising experts drawn from industry, government and academia. In 2017, the CCS Cost Network was brought under the aegis of IEAGHG and, since then, has been known as the IEAGHG CCS Cost Network. As part of its role as a member of Network’s Steering Committee, IEAGHG has helped to organise a series of two-day workshops on costs of CCS.

Following an action from the 2011 CCS Cost Network workshop, a White Paper, entitled “Toward a Common Method of Cost Estimation for CCS at Fossil Fuel Power Plants“, was published by IEAGHG and other organisations represented on the Network’s Steering Committee. Building on that earlier work, the current White Paper draws up a set of CCS costing guidelines in three complementary areas where further guidelines and better practices are needed, and where efforts are underway to address those topics.

The new White Paper marks a collaboration between workers at several renowned organisations and research institutes. As with the earlier case, this White Paper is also published by multiple parties, including IEAGHG. The three areas it covers are:

1.Towards improved cost guidelines for advanced low-carbon technologies

A framework is presented for estimating the future “Nth-of-a-kind” (NOAK) cost of advanced technologies that are currently at early pre-commercial stages of development. The framework distinguishes between two types of question that commonly motivate such a cost analysis: “What If” questions about the hypothetical cost of a technology that meets specified R&D goals; and “What Will” questions regarding the actual expected cost of an advanced technology once it is mature. The latter type of question is of particular interest because of the shortcomings in current methods.

2.Towards improved cost evaluation of carbon capture and storage from industry

Extensive studies have investigated the techno-economic performance of CCS applied to industrial sources, with wide differences in cost estimates observed. While this is due in part to differences in the cases studied and the choice of capture technology, a significant part arises from aspects related to cost assessment methods and assumptions. Building on a previous CCS costing guideline paper[1], this chapter aims to contribute to the development of improved guidelines for cost evaluation of CCS from industrial applications.

3.Toward improved guidelines for uncertainty analysis of carbon capture and storage techno-economic studies

This chapter reviews and provides guidance on available and emerging methods for uncertainty analysis in CCS techno-economic studies. It is intended to help accelerate continued methods development and their application to more robust and meaningful CCS performance and costing studies, as well as to provide an essential resource for all those developing, communicating and using CCS costing studies.

[1] Rubin ES, Short C, Booras G, Davison J, Ekstrom C, Matuszewski M and McCoy S, ‘A proposed methodology for CO2 capture and storage cost estimates’, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 17, 488-503 (2013). 

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