The importance of CCS Hubs and Clusters

Andrew Purvis

The importance of CCS Hubs and Clusters

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the only feasible option for capturing emissions from the many smaller-scale industrial sources of CO2 which make up almost half of global emissions reductions under the 2-degree scenario (2DS). Aggregating industrial sources into hubs or clusters to enable shared transport and storage infrastructure can reduce the cost of CCS for individual small-scale industrial customers. In this Insight the Institute's Andrew Purvis, General Manager for the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region discusses the opportunities for CCS Hubs and Clusters and some of the progress being made in Europe.

CCS is the only commercially-available option for reducing emissions from many industrial processes. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

On 5 June 2015, in an initiative facilitated by the Institute, a group of prospective CCS Hubs and Clusters wrote to the Directorates with responsibility for Growth (formerly DG-Enterprise) and Energy at the European Commission. The letter aims to set out the importance of the development of CCS Clusters to meeting Europe’s Climate and Economic goals and seeks further and more intensive engagement with the commission in the design of future climate and industrial policy.

Why are Industrial CCS and Industrial Clusters Important?

While CCS has an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions in the power sector, CCS is the only current option to substantially decarbonise emissions-intensive process industries such as refineries, chemicals, cement and steel production.

The IEA forecasts that almost half (45%) of carbon dioxide (CO2) captured between 2015 and 2050 in the 2˚C Scenario will come from industrial applications. Industrial CCS has the potential to enable and maintain industrial development in an increasingly carbon-constrained world and industrial CCS can provide a positive means of re-positioning the value of CCS.

While industrial facilities represent a significant proportion of global emissions, their retention is important in economic as well as employment terms. CCS in these sectors provides an opportunity to maintain a competitive economy and retain and expand employment in high value sectors while achieving climate change mitigation ambitions.

Many industrial processes offer positive opportunities for early projects, often producing relatively pure streams of CO2 and thus significantly lower CO2 capture complexity and cost. Conversely, one of the challenges is that volumes of CO2 produced by these facilities can be small. The development of clusters can play a role in addressing this issue.

Using CO2 from Industrial CCS

The story of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in North America is often presented as an “Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) story”. While this is true it is also an industrial story. Currently there is only one power plant fitted with CCS in North America (Boundary Dam), and vast majority of the CO2 captured and sequestered (23 million tonnes out of a total 24.3 million tonnes) is from industrial sources including gas processing, and hydrogen and cement production. One of the reasons CO2 was able to be captured cost effectively from these facilities was the existence of infrastructure originally developed to link natural CO2 sources to oilfields for use in EOR. While more infrastructure will be required as the industry grows, the existing infrastructure reduced costs and allowed the aggregation of CO2 from smaller sources.

CCS clusters in Europe

In Europe, and in other regions, many emissions-intensive industries are located in clusters. There is a real opportunity to develop shared infrastructure that many parties can use, therefore benefiting multiple emitters. Taking this approach would de-risk and reduce costs for many potential CCS projects. Importantly, some Industrial clusters are also close to excellent and extensive geological CO2 storage opportunities, so important to an integrated CCS project.

Cost effective decarbonisation

It is clear that CCS as a cost-effective decarbonisation option is not able to be deployed without investment in the appropriately-sized enabling infrastructure – such as transport and storage –that is not tied to a specific source of emissions.

It is important therefore that policymakers globally support the development of large-scale and strategically located infrastructure solutions that enable the low cost and full-scale deployment of CCS for industrial clusters. These will serve as a magnet to increase industry engagement and the development of multiple projects in each location, accelerating the development of CCS more broadly.