As the energy transition quickens, global carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects are on track to pull more than 550 million tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year by 2030, Rystad Energy research shows. This capacity growth represents a more than tenfold increase over today’s 45 million tonnes per annum (tpa) of CO2 captured, as the drive to decarbonize gathers pace.
Project announcements surged in 2021, with the current pipeline containing more than 200 developments, three times more than are currently in operation globally. The snowball effect is only set to build in the coming years as countries and companies rush to meet 2030 net-zero targets by reducing and offsetting their carbon footprint.
Based on learnings from current developments and expected economies of scale, CCUS project cost is anticipated to range between $75-$100 per tonne of CO2 captured by 2030, meaning the total market value of the sector could reach $55 billion annually by 2030.
However, even with this rise, total carbon capture capacity could fall far short of the levels needed to limit global warming to meet Rystad Energy’s 1.6°C climate scenario or the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero scenario. Both scenarios require carbon capture of close to 8 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 by 2050, a significant ramp up from the 550 million tpa predicted by 2030. If the world is to meet these targets, aggressive investment and deployment of CCUS technology will be required from 2030 onwards.
“With global CO2 emissions rebounding to new record highs post-Covid-19, the demand for CCUS projects is accelerating. Amplified by widespread energy security concerns amid the Russia-Ukraine war, calls for faster decarbonization of the energy industry, especially in Europe, are growing louder,” says Yvonne Lam, Rystad Energy’s head of CCUS research.
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As a result of supportive policies and incentives, Europe and North America will dominate the CCUS market by 2030, contributing 450 million tpa of capture capacity, more than 80% of the projected global total of 550 million tpa.
European capacity is projected to hit 222 million tpa by 2030, a sizeable jump from the 7 million tpa of CO2 captured today. The continent’s emission allowances have been on a rollercoaster since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is causing turmoil in the European Union’s emissions trading system. While no additional CCUS projects from the power sector or additional blue hydrogen production are expected in the future, Europe’s high carbon price is set to be a catalyst for CCUS project uptake. A third of the anticipated announcements are likely to come from the UK, the Netherlands and Norway combined.
In North America, Canada recently announced a tax credit scheme in this year’s budget, including a 60% tax rebate for direct air capture (DAC), 50% for traditional capture technology and a 37.5% credit for CCUS transportation and storage equipment. This will significantly improve CCUS economics for projects in Canada, coming closer to the nation’s current average cost of emitting CO2 of $30 per tonne. In the US, the tax credit provided under Section 45Q will increase from $50 to $85 per tonne of CO2 if the Build Back Better bill is passed by the Senate. Also, the US infrastructure bill that was passed at the end of last year will provide the CCUS market with an additional boost.
Economic and financial constraints are the main reason for CCUS projects not moving ahead as planned, but more countries are starting to see the importance of providing support to such projects. Demand for carbon capture projects through to 2030 will be predominantly driven by policies and support, especially for hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as cement, steel, maritime and chemicals.
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