According to the World Energy Outlook 2015 from the International Energy Agency, the share of fossil fuels in the primary energy demand is as high as 75% by 2040. This will be our energy future with serious CO2 emission implications unless something is done. The utmost message is that the contributions from energy efficiency and renewable energy are simply not enough to decarbonize the energy system to arrest climate change. In other words, the targets of the Paris agreement cannot be achieved without decarbonising fossil fuels through applying drastic technologies. Assuming energy efficiency (so-called “low-hanging fruit”) is the first way and renewable energy is the second, decarbonising fossil fuels will be the third way.
Although not widely known, there is a set of technology called Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), literally to capture CO2 from the use of fossil fuels to store in the geological formation or to utilize as feedstock for carbon-neutral products like fuels and carbon-negative products like building materials. It is thought that CCUS is the only technology to effectively decarbonize fossil fuel power plants, primarily coal and gas, as well as many industrial emission sources. Despite its decarbonizing potential, this technology is not yet ready for wider commercial deployment, primarily due to its cost implications and, in some locations, public perception.
The increasing risks of climate change may not allow us to wait for many more years before a wider deployment of CCUS. In order to make a breakthrough, the Global Agenda Council on Decarbonizing Energy launched an initiative, “The Carbon Management Coalition (CMC)” in early 2016. Many institutions, such as government laboratories, have been engaged with research and development on CCUS for decades. Building on these, there are well over 50 large-scale CCUS projects either in operation or at developmental stage. However, the pace of technological development and commercial deployment is far slower than needed to decarbonize the energy system still dominated by fossil fuels.
What is needed will be more extensive international coordination of various efforts made individually, collectively, nationally or regionally, which was reiterated by the Ministerial Communique of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) in November 2015. The proposed CMC is a loose association of stakeholders and interested parties to support and complement with the activities of existing CCUS-oriented institutions through the following: (1) networking across a variety of members, (2) sharing the lessons from existing CCUS projects, (3) promoting broader recognition of CCUS, and (4) identifying and promoting breakthrough technologies on CCUS.
Despite the short time of consultations, the Carbon Management Coalition idea is gaining support and encouragement from various stakeholders, including those who are not familiar with this particular technology. It is interesting to learn that only a limited number of people have good knowledge about this critical technology compared to other decarbonising technologies. In other words, the recognition of CCUS is not necessarily spreading beyond the constituencies or audience surrounding the institutions specializing in this technology.
We do not have much time left. Join us to shed light on and give a wider role to CCUS to drastically decarbonize the energy system.