As Dubai’s glittering skyline plays host to global leaders at COP28, the United Nations’ pivotal climate summit, a heated debate unfolds, not just on its famed dance floors, but in the corridors of power. The urgent mission: to slash greenhouse gas emissions and confront the looming climate crisis. A key focus at COP28 is the contentious and complex world of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology
The Carbon Capture Conundrum
While the fossil fuel industry and some technologists herald CCS as a silver bullet, trapping emissions before they reach the atmosphere, others view it skeptically. The direct air capture (DAC) method, a cutting-edge approach to removing carbon already in the air, also takes center stage.
Significant investments underscore the seriousness with which some sectors approach CCS:
U.S. Fossil Fuel Initiatives: Exxon, for instance, has launched three major carbon capture projects in 2023 alone, aiming to cut emissions equivalent to removing 2 million gas-powered cars from the roads.
Innovative Partnerships: American Airlines collaborates with Graphyte, a startup creating carbon-absorbing biowaste bricks for underground storage.
Texas Takes the Lead: Occidental Petroleum, in partnership with BlackRock, embarks on constructing a massive DAC facility, a testament to the industry’s commitment.
The Price of Progress
However, the path to CCS is fraught with challenges:
Economic Hurdles: CCS-equipped power plants can cost up to twice as much as renewable alternatives, a concern highlighted by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The DAC Dilemma: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), DAC’s high energy usage makes it considerably more expensive than other methods.
Expert Opinions: MIT’s Howard Herzog emphasizes the importance of preventing emissions rather than just capturing them.
The Viability Question
Despite these challenges, experts caution against dismissing CCS entirely:
A Niche Solution: Industries like steel production and air travel, where green alternatives are costly, could benefit from CCS, as suggested by Richard Steubi of Boston University.
Cementing CCS’s Role: The Clean Air Task Force points to cement production, where 60% of emissions are process-based, as a prime candidate for CCS.
Blue Hydrogen Potential: Herzog sees promise in using CCS for producing blue hydrogen, a low-carbon fuel alternative for sectors like long-haul trucking and shipping.
In conclusion, while the debate over CCS’s role in mitigating climate change continues, COP28 highlights both its potential and its pitfalls. As the world grapples with the urgency of climate action, the viability, scalability, and economic feasibility of CCS technologies remain critical factors in shaping our sustainable future.
Get the Weekly Newsletter Thousands of Mineral Rights Owners and Investors Rely On.