CCS is a necessity for a world hooked on fossil fuels

Despite all the attention given to renewable energy, fossil fuels still produce about four-fifths of the energy consumed worldwide.

There is only one way to burn fossil fuels without adding more CO2 to the atmosphere: carbon capture and storage (CCS). But high cost and simultaneous lack of incentive policies are delaying deployment of CCS, leading the International Energy Agency to renew its calls for action in 2013 and beyond on this critical element to limiting climate change.

Fossil fuels met 81% of total energy demand as of 2009, as well as 85% of the increase in global energy demand in the past ten years. Such use of oil, coal and gas is irreconcilable with limiting CO2 emissions enough to keep average global temperature rise to only 2 degrees. 

The recently launched World Energy Outlook 2012 also shows that without significant deployment of CCS, more than two-thirds of current proven fossil-fuel reserves cannot be commercialised in a 2-degree world.

“For the IEA, carbon capture and storage is not a substitute, but a necessary addition to other low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency improvements,” states Juho Lipponen, head of the IEA Carbon Capture and Storage Technology Unit.  He added, “Fossil-fuel CCS is particularly important in a world that currently shows absolutely no sign of scaling down its fossil fuel consumption.”

But perhaps the most critically important short-term issue is to develop practical incentive policies, with successful policies for renewable energy potentially serving as models for CCS deployment. The IEA provides detailed plans about development, investment and deployment in its Roadmap series as well as its technology flagship publications, Energy Technology Perspectives 2012.

Adoption of CCS by many countries has been slow, the good news is that the needed technologies have been proven by many industries over several decades. The Global CCS Institute lists more than 70 large-scale integrated CCS facilities across the world in various stages of development. It is critical if we are to limit co2 emmisions to ''safe'' levels that as many of these projects as possible reach fruition this decade to perfect the technology and show CCS’s value and safety to the public.