Economic and social benefits of CCS

Organisation: Global CCS Institute

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a vital tool in the global fight against climate change. With its important application to the capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions from power stations, CCS has a crucial role to play in tackling greenhouse gas emissions whilst maintaining security of supply. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that to halve global emissions by 2050 (widely believed to be required to limit the temperature rise to 2ºC), CCS will need to contribute one fifth of the required emissions reductions, both in the power sector as well as the industrial sector. In addition, the IEA have found that attempting to halve global emissions by 2050 without CCS, would increase costs by more than 70% per year.

To meet global 2050 goals, the IEA has projected that we will need 100 CCS projects around the world by 2020 and more than 3000 by 2050. This is a significant scale-up from current ambitions. There are very major benefits arising from the deployment of CCS in addition to climate mitigation.

When considering the capital investment in capture, transport and storage that will be needed to build these projected CCS projects, a picture emerges of a global market for CCS worth more than $5 trillion by 2050 (similar to the oil industry). In the UK alone, the government has estimated that CCS could be worth up to £6.5bn per year by 2030, creating up to 100,000 jobs.

Although it must be said that CCS projects are large, capital intensive projects, they provide extremely good value for money both in terms of cost per tonne of CO2 saved and per unit of clean electricity. For example, the costs of early demonstration projects has been estimated at €60-90 per tonne of CO2 with costs reducing to around €30-45 per tonne of CO2 by 2030.

There are also significant social benefits from the deployment of CCS. The supply chain for CCS will create a large variety of jobs for those communities living near a capture plant, pipeline or storage facility. Jobs will be required in core engineering and manufacturing sectors, as well as pipeline design, management and operation and a host of skills related to CO2 storage, including exploration and site characterisation, injection well construction and management. Many energy intensive manufacturing industries will in future be seen to be unsustainable without CCS. So the application of CCS will protect jobs and prosperity related to these industries. Developing networks of CCS pipeline networks will enable local prosperity through the longevity of regional industries.

The development and deployment of CCS will be very significant in ensuring that we are able to meet increasing energy demand and keep the lights on whilst minimising the environmental damage. The market for CCS is likely to be measured in the $trillions with the creation of a large variety of specialist jobs.

Judith Shapiro is a Policy Officer at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association