A major international initiative to galvanise investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) is set to be announced by some of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels.
The annual Clean Energy Ministerial, this year hosted in Copenhagen, will provide the forum for the unveiling of the plan, which would see advanced economies work together to commercialise CCS.
The US, Saudi Arabia and Norway are spearheading the project, with backing from the UK, China, the UAE, Mexico, and the European Union. It will be the first time that national governments have come together to agree a joint action plan on CCS. Norway, which has led the charge on CCS technology, argues that it has enough subsea capacity to store all of Europe’s emissions.
The technology is regarded as essential to tackling climate change by bodies such as the IEA and the UNFCCC, not only to clean up power but also to capture emissions from carbon-heavy industrial sectors like chemicals, steel, cement and aluminium, for which no renewable alternatives currently exist.
Seventeen large-scale CCS projects are already in operation around the world. While the technology is well understood, the challenge now is to bring down the cost. Advocates point out that the technology only receives a fraction of the policy attention as renewables, despite being just as vital.
Coming alongside America’s new “Clean Fossil Alliance”, the global CCS action plan is part of a broader a shift within global energy politics, which has seen a more pragmatic view of fossil fuels take hold. Countries like the US and India argue that the reality of continued fossil fuel use, especially in the developing world, means that the priority has to be on making then cleaner rather than trying to impose and end to their use.