Carbon Capture Tech on the RiseBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 12/09/2020 - 10:04
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a relatively simple concept: tackle emissions from existing fossil fuel-based power generation and industrial processes. In a world where climate change is becoming a pressing issue by the day, it appears to be godsent technology. In Mexico, its efficiency has been touted as well. Nevertheless, experts question its potential if incentives keep lagging behind.
There is no shortage of major international parties declaring their faith in CSS and associated technologies. In September, IEA published a report where it considers the technology crucial toward achieving climate goals through decarbonization. In order for CCS to truly become a significant factor globally, IEA acknowledges that it needs to see a much deeper level of implementation.
What can potentially hold back the spread of this practice is low carbon pricing. The global CCS institute reports that there are 21 carbon-capture plants in operation. Even though EIA predicts that 30 more facilities will join the ranks in the coming years, these are not nearly enough to make a real impact past the local level. The main problem is a lack of financial incentives. In an interview with GTM, Global CCS Institute’s General Manager of Advocacy and Communications Guloren Turan argued that modern technology can remove 450 million tons of carbon a year. The cost would be approximately US$20 per ton. Yet to remove carbon from difficult industrial processes like steel or cement production, prices tend to increase more than five times. Without firm carbon pricing, a practice that puts a literal price on emitting carbon, and added incentives from governments, companies will likely focus on keeping their costs down instead. In fact, GTM mentions that only Sweden’s carbon pricing scheme would make the practice break even for cement and steel producers.reut
That is not to say that CCS projects will be completely unviable. In September, Mexico’s Cemex signed a deal with Carbon Clean to launch a CCS pilot project in 2021, according to Reuters. The costs per ton of CO2 captured is below US$30 as well. This is well worth if Cemex plans to offer net zero products by the year 2050. “Accomplishing CO2 capture at an industrial scale and affordable cost is one of the biggest challenges,” said Gonzalo Galindo, Head of Cemex Ventures. A growing focus on industrial sustainability might give CCS a further boost, especially if costs can be kept low.
The Mexican government has hinted at using carbon capture as well, through the PROSENER program published earlier this year. How and when CCS might be promoted by the government remains unclear, however. “Take advantage of fuel oil for electricity generation, with the application of emission-reduction and sulfur-reduction technologies. This enables the use of existing infrastructure, at reasonable prices for PEMEX and CFE, depending on the needs of supply,” the program reads.