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Capture Carbon Today for a Secure Tomorrow

May 23, 2012

" Fossil fuels will continue to be used for many decades, and (renewable) alternatives are not able to substitute them quickly. Carbon capture and storage offers a potential bridging strategy to a sustainable energy future. "

Edward Rubin

Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg

A recent report by the International Energy Agency says that mobilizing carbon capture and storage is critical to the success of efforts to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, and called for “aggressive pursuit” of seven measures to scale up CCS deployment. “Current global efforts do not match the significant emission reduction ambitions associated with CCS,” concluded the IEA study, Tracking Progress in Carbon Capture and Storage.

Its seven recommendations call, among others, for mobilizing more financing for Carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration and deployment, adjusting regulatory frameworks to facilitate CCS, measures to support CCS in industry, exploration of storage options, and sharing CCS knowledge and best practices.
The IEA’s analysis coincides with that of analysts who see CCS as a key mitigation technology to reduce CO2 emissions quickly enough to stop climate change from reaching the danger zone.

 “Fossil fuels will continue to be used for many decades, and (renewable) alternatives are not able to substitute them quickly,” said Edward Rubin of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “Carbon capture and Storage offers a potential bridging strategy to a sustainable energy future.”

The IEA also projects that with continued production and burning of fossil fuels, carbon pricing policies will become mainstream. By 2050, the IEA contends, carbon prices will exceed the cost of deploying and operating CCS technology; this logic takes into account the heavy dependence on coal that endures in  India, which gets 69% of its electricity from coal-burning, South Africa, which relies on it for about 93%, China for 79 %, and Poland for about 92%.

The World Bank Group is contributing to an emerging global effort to enhance knowledge about carbon capture, utilization and storage, by promoting exchanges of information and practices among policymakers in regions. During 2009-2011, the Bank’s Sustainable Energy Department has organized four workshops, respectively in Southern Africa, the Balkans and two in Washington, at which experts shared their experiences with CCS technologies and policy issues.

Since December 2009, the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy Department and Carbon Finance Unit have  managed a Carbon Capture and Storage Capacity Building Trust Fund (WB CCS TF) supported by the government of Norway and the Australia based Global CCS Institute. The WB CCS TF aims to share knowledge and build capacity on CCS in World Bank partner countries.  Programs have been launched in Botswana, South Africa, China, Kosovo, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Maghreb, and Mexico.

By strengthening local CCS capacity and knowledge, developing countries can assess the viability of including CCS options in their low-carbon growth strategies and policies.

In addition to country programs, the World Bank has also produced an analytical study assessing potential impacts of deploying CCS in power sectors in Southern Africa and the Balkan regions, (title/link). The study addresses the integration of power generation and CCS technologies, as well as their costs, and also reviews regulatory barriers to the deployment of CCS. Finally, it provides an assessment on global climate finance requirements for CCS, and applicable project finance structures involving instruments of multilateral development institutions.

The results of the study were the focus for the CCS workshops in Southern Africa & the Balkans, which also included participation of experts and stakeholders from these two regions and across the world.

Nataliya Kulichenko, Senior Energy Specialist of the Sustainable Energy Department of the World Bank notes that major financial, regulatory and technical obstacles still stand in the way of CCUS progress in developing countries.“This World Bank CCS Trust Fund facilitates CCUS-related knowledge exchange and transfer to countries, which are interested in exploring this climate change mitigation option. It has to be part of the discussion and analysis that leads to a lower-carbon future in both developed and developing countries.”