Insights

Rocking the climate: taking CCS on tour

Organisation: Global CCS Institute

In the past few weeks, there’s been an increase in mainstream and social media “noise” around carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a clean technology.

Despite it being identified as vital to meeting Paris climate change targets by luminaries and pre-eminent experts across the climate landscape (the IEA and IPCC, for starters), a coterie of critics and naysayers have emerged from the woodwork to take swipes at the technology as being new, unproven, and expensive.

One relatively high-profile parliamentarian, who knows better, has even dubbed it a “unicorn”. 

Nothing could be further from the truth of course: the technology is older than the Apollo moon landings, commercially tested through 17 large-scale facilities around the world, and in terms of pure, comparable cost, on par with renewables.

Interestingly, the increase in “babble” has come at the same time as the technology has enjoyed something of a revival on the world stage.

In the United States, bi-partisan legislation to allow a tax credit for CO₂ storage has been introduced, in the United Kingdom, the Government has established a dedicated carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) Council - on which our CEO sits - and in Australia, a new Bill giving CCS the same access to concessional finance as renewables is being introduced.

This occurs at the same time as the EU and China lay the foundations for various measures to reduce CO₂ emissions across those respective continents.

Yes, something is afoot, and for us, there seems to be a direct correlation between the vitriol and the new momentum.

Simply, what we are doing is starting to work.

And when something starts to work, opponents start to pump up the volume.

We expect this to continue as the CCS star continues to shine, and as we continue to take our message to the world.

This week, we are pumping up the volume ourselves as we bring together key players in the United States at our seventh annual CCS Forum in Washington DC.

Next week, our CEO, Brad Page, speaks at the GLOBE Forum, a leadership summit for sustainable business, in Vancouver, Canada, at which Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, a staunch climate change proponent, will participate. The following week, we are in Oslo Norway, hosting another major CCS summit.

Like a rock show, and it literally is when you consider we are promoting the storage of CO₂ in porous rock deep below ground, we have an ambitious world tour underway.

Over the coming months, it will traverse the four corners of the earth, culminating at COP24 in Poland in November, where a global stock-take of CO₂ emissions will be undertaken.

This will tell us whether the world is on track to reducing CO₂ emissions or not.

We can tell you now, it will be way off track, and it will only “get to Paris” through deployment of all-clean technologies in a “pick no winners” approach.

This week, we will explain to key audiences, as our critics are inadvertently telling us, that CCS’ time has come.

It is the only technology able to decarbonize heavy industry, and the only technology that can preserve jobs and communities at the same time as providing a conduit to a new energy economy of hydrogen, biomass and CO₂ re-use applications.

Already, around the world, a wave of new companies are using CO₂ as a base product to manufacture everything from upholstery, mattresses, and detergents, to nanotubes, “green” concrete, even alcohol.

One Californian company, Opus 12, a collection of young electrochemists, scientists and engineers, have gone as far as building a reactor to trap greenhouse gases and convert them into carbon-based compounds used to make plastics and liquid fuels. They look like a rock band and it therefore unsurprising that they should feature in a recent edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

If CCS was a rock band, you might say it was beginning its come-back tour.

Instead, it is safer to look at it simply as a rock worthy of a lot of noise.

Let’s Rock.