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Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage: Four Critical Policy Goals

December 9, 2019 Work Area: Carbon Capture

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI) has just released its latest annual report with some positive news about new projects, but at the same time, presenting a clear-eyed view on how far and how quickly we must proceed if carbon capture, utilization & storage (CCUS) is to play a critical role in addressing global climate change as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says it must. CATF’s Deepika Nagabhushan contributed an opinion piece to the report, presented here:

In the two years since the U.S. Congress passed a milestone Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage (CCUS) incentive, 45Q tax credit, a number of projects have initiated development. In the same period, an interesting theme has emerged: states and utilities have set themselves goals to have carbon-free electricity.

States such as California and New York have committed to achieving zero-carbon power systems. Utilities that provide over 40% of U.S. electricity have committed to reducing their CO2 emissions between 80% to 100%.

CCUS will not only play an important role in fulfilling the above commitments, but also help meeting even bolder goals that will include decarbonizing industrial emissions and leveraging zero-carbon fuels. This creates implications on federal and state governments to enact additional CCUS enabling policies.

First, we need cheaper capture technologies that are faster to build. This requires federal funding to support transformational technology research and development.

Second, we need financial incentives to commercially deploy CCUS. This will lead to multiple technology vendors providing standardized components, reducing custom engineering needs and banks that are familiar enough with CCUS to readily finance projects.

Third, we need to expand the network of CO2 pipelines and storage sites such that CO2 capture projects can easily connect to it, much like a commercial laundromat would connect to the existing water and sewage lines.

Finally, broader climate policies such as procurement mandates, emission caps and energy standards must embrace CCUS, promoting wide-scale deployment.

If we meet these four categories of CCUS policy goals, then we will at least have a chance to meet our mid-century climate goals. That is what is at stake.

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