Carbon Capture Technology Is Worth Looking Forward to, But It Will Take Time for Large-Scale Applications

The distribution concentration of carbon dioxide around humans is beyond people's imagination. Even if affected by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the total global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 has reduced by 7% compared with previous years, but the emissions in 2021 return to the level before the epidemic. Reducing carbon emissions is very urgent on a global scale. Therefore, many countries have issued a series of documents to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable development.

Reducing Carbon Emissions Is Very Urgent

Reducing carbon emissions is a basic requirement for domestic social and economic development, and it is also the key to the continuation of the future destiny of mankind. Domestically, achieving the dual carbon target is a necessary condition for achieving the 1.5°C temperature control target of the Paris Agreement, and it is related to the sustainable development of the community with a shared future for mankind. In addition, the realization of the dual carbon goal reflects the image of China as a major country that actively participates in and leads international undertakings such as climate change; at the same time, the dual carbon goal provides opportunities and platforms for China's economic and social green transformation.

The realization of the dual carbon goal is inseparable from the path of carbon neutrality and carbon capture. Generally speaking, there are three main directions of attack. The first is to increase vegetation and restore water and soil to increase the intensity of carbon dioxide absorption in nature; the second is to accelerate the rapid popularization of clean energy and improve the energy efficiency of various industries, thereby reducing emissions; The third is to pay attention to the construction of the carbon trading market and the development of carbon capture and storage technologies. The scale of implementation of the first two continues to expand, and at this stage carbon capture technology is still in the early stages of development, with great development potential, and of course the risks that exist are also huge.

Carbon Capture Technology

Carbon capture technology has to mention the technology of carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage, referred to as CCUS, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The results of a test show that compared with non-CCS power plants, modern conventional power plants using CCUS technology can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 80% to 90%.

Application Status of Carbon Capture Technology CCUS

The application scale of CCUS in China is continuously expanding. According to data, there were 18 capture projects in operation in China in 2019, mainly in chemical projects, biological fields and geological fields; China's carbon dioxide capture capacity in 2019 was about 1.7 million tons, of which the utilization of geological fields was about 100 10,000 tons, accounting for 58.8%; secondly, chemical utilization was about 250,000 tons, accounting for 14.7%; finally, biological utilization was about 60,000 tons, accounting for 3.5%.

CCUS will effectively reduce China's carbon dioxide emissions, and make great contributions to ensuring international energy security and achieving sustainable development in the future. With the expansion of the scope of application, it is expected to build a low-cost, low-energy, safe and reliable CCUS technology system and industrial clusters in the future.

It Will Take Time for Carbon Capture Technology to Spread on a Large Scale

High operating costs are a major bottleneck in the popularization of carbon capture technology. According to related reports, the cost of compressing a ton of carbon dioxide into supercritical fluid is US$25, the cost of bringing a ton of carbon dioxide to the landfill site is US$5, and the price of a storage tank per ton of carbon dioxide is US$20, and the maximum cost of capturing a ton of carbon dioxide can exceed US$640. Not only that, for companies that burn fossil fuels, the cost of equipment modification due to carbon capture technology is also very high. Therefore, high operating costs have severely hindered initial investment, and subsequent large-scale expansion of carbon capture projects have also been difficult to launch, slowing down the process of large-scale commercialization of carbon capture technology.

To this end, the International Energy Agency calls on governments and related industries to make greater efforts in policy, funding, technological improvement and cost reduction, so that carbon capture technology can become a powerful means to combat climate change. At present, some countries have limited carbon dioxide emissions, that is, the total emissions of each production line. The excess emissions can be recycled or stored by carbon capture, otherwise the company will be required to shut down.

Another key factor is that market comparison costs hinder the popularization of carbon capture. Compared with new energy sources such as wind and solar energy, the cost of carbon capture is much higher. Many companies prefer to invest in carbon neutral projects. Another thing is that carbon capture technology can only achieve the required scale of deployment under certain conditions, including oil prices higher than US$85 per barrel, and carbon tax levels that exceed US$75 per ton of carbon dioxide by 2050. The current levels of oil and carbon taxes are not enough to support large-scale deployment of carbon capture technology by 2050.

The business model of carbon capture is not yet mature, and the difficulty of financing and business risks are self-evident. However, when carbon emissions continue, in order to achieve climate action goals, the use of carbon capture, storage and utilization technologies becomes inevitable. From a long-term perspective, it deserves long-term attention.

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