Insights

Urgent action required for "off track" CCUS: Recent IEA study

Organisation: Global CCS Institute

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its latest assessment of the status of energy technologies and sectors. The Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP) study assesses global progress against the Agency’s Sustainable Development Scenario and the proposed transformation of the energy sector. Under this Scenario the rise of average global temperatures is limited to “well below 2°C”, as specified in the Paris Agreement, universal energy access is increased, and air pollution is significantly lowered. 

CCUS is “off track” 

The IEA has highlighted limited progress in both CCUS on power and industry and has categorised CCUS as “off track”.  

The Sustainable Development Scenario requires the capture and storage of 350 million tonnes of CO2 per year (Mtpa) from the power sector in 2030. Currently, the capture rate is only 2.4 Mtpa. 

In the industry and transformation sector, the IEA has described the CCUS current capture rate of 28 Mtpa as “woefully off-track for the SDS target” with a required rate at 500 Mtpa in 2030 and 1600 Mtpa in 2040. 

In both instances, a significant increase in deployment will be required to meet the ambitious targets set for CCUS. 

Image source: International Energy Agency

Key points for CCUS 

The Institute has identified the following key points regarding the progress of CCUS in the TCEP study.  

Positive 

  • Several CCUS projects are now operating in both industry and power 

  • Technological innovation is occurring and new processes are being trialled in industrial applications 

  • CCUS projects are being developed in many parts of the world 

  • There is considerable opportunity for cost reductions from “next-of-a-kind” projects  

  • There are early signs of improvements in the policy environment (e.g. 45Q tax credits in the US) 

Negative

  • Only two CCUS projects are operating in the power sector and only one additional industrial CCUS project has entered operation since 2017 

  • Limited volumes of CO2 are being stored by operational projects and at a scale which is too small to meet future mitigation requirements 

  • Insufficient number of projects under development or in the early planning stages 

  • Greater improvements to both policy and financial support for the technology will be required  

We cannot meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement without CCUS 

The IEA has continually emphasised that to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets:  

  • ALL technologies will be needed.  

  • National and international climate change policy needs to support ALL technologies. 

The TCEP reinforces these statements – 2 degrees will not be met unless all technologies achieve their deployment goals.  

How does CCUS compare to the other technologies? 

The TCEP concludes that 34 of 38 technologies are “not on track” or “require more effort”. Only solar PV, electric vehicles, lighting, as well as data centres and networks are on track to meet deployment targets.  

 

Sector 

On track 

More effort needed

Not on track 

Power Generation 

Solar PV 

Renewable power 

Wind (on-, off-shore) 

Hydropower 

Bioenergy 

Nuclear power 

Natural gas-fired 

CCUS 

Geothermal 

Concentrated Solar 

Ocean 

Coal-fired power 

Transport 

Electric vehicles 

Fuel economy of cars and vans 

Trucks and Buses 

International shipping 

Rail 

Transport biofuels 

Aviation 

Buildings 

Lighting 

Data centres and networks 

Cooling 

Appliances and equipment 

Building envelopes 

Heating (hydrogen) 

Industry 

 

Chemicals 

Iron and steel 

Cement 

Pulp and Paper 

Aluminium 

CCUS in industry and transformation 

Energy integration  

 

Energy storage 

Hydrogen 

Smart grids 

Demand response 

Digitization 

 

Renewable heat 

 

What can be done?

Predictable policy and confidence to invest drives deployment 

We can attribute solar PV’s status to the significant scale of deployment, which has brought down the costs of solar PV units. Feed-in-tariffs are the main driver of solar PV deployment and have been in- place in many countries for some time. The IEA highlights China’s recent feed-in tariffs, as a catalyst for more widespread solar PV deployment.  

It is clear from the solar PV example, that supportive policy leads to greater uptake and ultimately lowers the costs of deployment. To meet targets and avoid climate change, all technologies will require that same policy confidence currently afforded to solar PV. For CCUS, increased policy confidence will engender an investment environment conducive to large-scale infrastructure construction and long asset life.  

The IEA also highlights the impact of private-sector efforts, which have resulted in emissions reductions in industrial applications, through fuel switching, energy efficiency, and recycling. For CCUS in industrial applications, it is likely that the private sector will play a critical role.