A sequential, co-located series of deployments in the UK using existing technology can reduce initial CCS “demonstration” costs by up to 45% - exceeding the likely cost reductions from technology advances.
Initial cost reductions can be achieved without creating new capture technology platforms – making use of economies of scale, sharing infrastructure and physical demonstration
After 2030 technology innovation should play an increasing role in ongoing cost reduction
A new report from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has reinforced the importance of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to a UK low carbon energy system and identified an effective way of reducing costs deploying existing technology and utilising shared infrastructure, rather than investment in further technology advances.
“Reducing the costs of CCS: Developments in capture plant technology” says that successfully deploying CCS would save UK consumers and businesses tens of billions of pounds in a low carbon transition by providing low carbon electricity, capturing industrial emissions, creating low carbon fuels and delivering negative emissions when used in combination with bioenergy.
The ETI has previously carried out modelling of CCS at process plant, techno-economic, financial and energy system level to build knowledge of the role and value of CCS and better understand the barriers facing the industry.
Much of that work has focussed on risk and cost reduction in transportation and storage, but, the latest report concentrates on the cost of capture, which is the single largest cost element of the operational CCS chain.
Critics of the technology say it is unproven and expensive.
The high capital cost of CCS means technology risks have to be carefully managed, but initial cost reduction can be achieved without creating new capture technology platforms by making use of economies of scale, sharing infrastructure and through physical demonstration. CCS uses proven technologies which need to be combined into new value chains. The cost of capture is the largest single cost element in CCS but capture technology is from a mature technology base and further improvements in cost and performance are expected. The ETI believes that one pathway to reducing the cost of CCS is to deliver a small number of large plants sequentially using proven technologies. Our analysis shows that cost reduction through sequential deployments of existing technology can drive down costs by as much as 45% largely through a combination of economies of scale, infrastructure sharing and risk reductions through deployment. Cost reduction can only be achieved through commercial scale deployment in the UK, investment in infrastructure including storage sites and by having a policy environment that is attractive for CCS investors. Investment in anchor projects provides a transport and storage infrastructure for subsequent projects to build on and paves the way for the introduction of higher risk emerging technologies once the overall CCS risk is reduced. A strategy of waiting for global technology advances to reduce costs and risks will not address UK specific costs and risks in transport and storage.
The report says that post combustion amines and pre-combustion gasification technologies will continue to be the capture technologies of choice in power production for several years, but after 2030 technology innovation should play an increasing role in ongoing cost reduction.
It also highlights the potential for hydrogen storage combined with CCS which can provide considerable flexibility and improve energy security.