IEA report: Carbon capture can play vital role in carbon emissions reduction

‘The scale of the climate challenge means we need to act across a wide range of energy technologies – carbon capture is critical for ensuring our transitions to clean energy are secure and sustainable,’ says Dr Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Executive Director.

The IEA report, CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions is published today at an IEA online event opened by Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg.

As reported by, earlier this week Norway launched its major Longship project which includes funding for the Northern Lights carbon storage project, a joint initiative between Equinor, Shell and Total.

The Northern Lights project will transport liquid CO2 from capture facilities to a terminal at Øygarden in Vestland County. From there, CO2 will be pumped through pipelines to a reservoir beneath the sea bottom.

Announcing its new study, the IEA notes that the momentum on carbon capture is beginning to build.

‘Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that are the hardest to prevent – a crucial part of reaching the net-zero emissions goals that a growing number of governments and companies have set for themselves,’ the agency said.

 The IEA report assesses the state of play of CCUS technologies and maps out the evolving and expanding role they will need to play to put global emissions on a sustainable trajectory. It includes a detailed analysis of CO2 emissions from power and industrial facilities in China, Europe and the United States and potential for storing them.

 Plans for more than 30 commercial CCUS facilities have been announced globally in the last three years. Projects now nearing a final investment decision represent an estimated potential investment of around $27 billion – more than double the investment planned in 2017. This portfolio of projects is increasingly diverse, notes the IEA, and would double the amount of CO2 captured globally.

The report sets out the four main ways that CCUS technologies can contribute to clean energy transitions:

  • Tackling emissions from existing energy infrastructure such as power and industrial plants;
  • Providing a solution for some of the most challenging emissions from heavy industries like cement and chemicals, as well as from aviation;
  • Offering a cost-effective pathway for low-carbon hydrogen production in many regions;
  • Removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

‘In order to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage as a technology for the future we need investments in solutions and facilities in many regions and countries,’ commented Prime Minister Solberg.

‘CCUS will be necessary on a global scale if we are to meet the Paris Agreement. And we must start now.’

The full IEA report can be accessed here

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes