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Technology Collaboration Programme by IEA

Techno-Economic Assessment of Electrochemical CO2 Conversion Technologies

R. Detz, C. Ferchaud, A Kalkman, C. Sanchez Martinez, M. Saric, M Shinde

Citation: IEAGHG, "Techno-Economic Assessment of Electrochemical CO2 Conversion Technologies", 2023-03, October 2023.

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Publication Overview

This study aims to assess the costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance of selected electrochemical CO2 conversion pathways. It applies a learning curve method to project costs up to 2050.

Publication Summary

  • Of several pathways reported in the literature, this study identified six pathways that have reached sufficient technology readiness level (TRL > 4) and sufficient data to allow for a first techno-economic assessment (TEA).
  • The pathways include processes that produce carbon monoxide (CO), syngas (CO + H2), formic acid (HCOOH) and ethylene (C2H4), either by low-temperature (LT) electrolysis, high-temperature (HT) solid oxide electrolysis or a tandem LT/HT process.
  • HT electrolysis to produce syngas is the closest to reach break-even levelised production costs compared to the fossil reference. The economic performance of all routes is mainly determined by the CAPEX component and thanks to steep learning of the HT pathways, these routes are likely first to reach break-even. LT electrolysis processes still need a substantial reduction in investment costs to reach break-even.
  • The GHG performance of the pathways is highly dependent on the emission factor of the electricity used. Electrochemical production of formic acid, CO and syngas results or can soon result in substantial GHG savings compared to the fossil reference. CO2 taxation between at least 60 and 636 €/tCO2 is estimated to be required. Electrochemical production of ethylene would require a very low (< 50 gCO2e/kWh) emission factor to be competitive with current production methods and CO2 taxation of more than 2000 €/tCO2 is estimated to be necessary.
  • As the assessment in this study involves the assessment of relatively low TRL technologies, it is important to keep in mind that the related uncertainties can be high.
  • The results of this study will be of interest to research organisations, industry, as well as financial RD&D sponsors.
  • Recommendations:
  • This study identified several knowledge gaps and suggestions for future research direction, which can be picked up by research organisations. One overarching topic concerned information on the purity requirements of the CO2
  • On a more general level, more development and investments are necessary to enhance TRL and decrease costs of the investigated CO2 electroconversion routes. Especially pilot projects which demonstrate the entire process chain will be necessary to validate the projected economic and environmental performance.

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