Unsuccessful carbon capture and storage projects are significantly more numerous than successful projects on a global scale. They are very different, in terms of technology and regulations, a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Finance (IEEFA) showed. The Carbon Capture Crux – Lessons Learned report examines 13 leading carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects in the natural gas, industrial and energy sectors in terms of their history, economics and performance.

The IEA has emphasized that capacity needs to be increased to 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030 to put the world on track to a global “net-zero scenario” by 2050.

The observed projects make up about 55% of the total current operational capacity in the world. Author Bruce Robertson says that seven out of thirteen projects failed, while two failed. The IEEFA study found that the Shute Creek CCS in the US was underperforming its carbon sequestration capacity by about 36% over its lifetime, the Boundary Dam in Canada by about 50%, and the Gorgon Project off the coast of Western Australia by about 50% during the first five years of work.

Isolated success in Norway

“The two most successful projects in the gas processing sector are Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway. This is largely due to the country’s unique regulatory environment for oil and gas companies,” says Robertson. CCS technology has been around for 50 years and many projects have failed and continue to fail, with only a few operational.

Many international bodies and national governments rely on carbon capture in the fossil sector to achieve zero emissions, and that simply won’t work, warns Robertson. “While there are some indications that it could play a role in sectors where emissions are difficult to reduce such as the cement industry, fertilizers and steel, the overall results point to a financial, technical and emissions reduction framework that is over- and under-estimated.”, according to the author of the study.

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