International Energy Agency asks the world put its bets on CCS technologies

Publish date: October 20, 2008

Written by: Anne Karin Sæther

Translated by: Charles Digges

In a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the group implores the world community to undertake a dramatic push in work toward removing CO2 emissions from dirty factories and plants, the agency said in a statement released Monday.

The IEA is a powerful French-based policy advisor to 28 member nations – including the United States, Norway, Great Britain, and many other European, Asian and Southern Pacific countries – on their efforts to ensure reliable, affordable, and clean energy production.

Its recognition that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is a potent weapon in battling climate change is certain to have a major impact on the tempo with which CCS is pursued.

“Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is one of the most promising technological solutions to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to salvage our climate,” said the IEA in it’s statement

In the new report, titled “Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage: A Key Carbon Abatement Option,” the IEA shows how CO2 capture and storage can be a cost effective climate effort.

At the same time, the IEA posts a bulletin for action: Both authorities and industry must take responsibility and put money on the table toward the first large-scale CCS demonstration plants, which will be more expensive than the plants that come after the technology has become more widely spread.

20 demonstration plants must be built
The IEA advises that there must be at least 20 demonstration plants for CO2 capture and storage up and running by 2020. For the time being, only four such projects are underway that can combine experience in full scale CCS. Two of these projects are taking place in Norway, where CCS is planned for the Kårstø and Mongstad gas power plants.

The IEA also calls for laws and regulations governing the capture and storage of CO2, and that regional cooperation be established for the transport of CO2.

According to the IEA, there is enough storage space worldwide to store CO2 for hundreds of years.

Enormous significance
The IEA is an important and heavyweight international voice, and Bellona therefore values the fact that the IEA has engaged itself so distinctly in the work toward CO2 capture and storage.

“It is of enormous significance that the IEA is giving such clear signals here – the IEA is a tone setter for decisions that are taken by companies in the energy sector, and far from the least for decisions that are taken in energy and climate politics,” Bellona advisor Dr. Aage Stangeland said.

“The IEA has been a little skeptical of CO2 capture in the past, but now is an active advocate for this climate initiative, and is requesting that it there be a larger understanding of CO2 capture and storage out among the public,” he said.

Cut a third
In another IEA report published earlier this year, titled “2008 Energy Technology Perspectives” the IEA shows how emissions tied to energy production will increase by as much as 130 percent by 2050 if climate initiatives are not introduced.

Such a rise in CO2 emissions, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Panel, can lead to a temperature rise of four to five degrees, and violent damage to nature and society.

Bellona’s Stangeland has showed in a study published in the “International Greenhouse Gas Journal” that CO2 handling alone – capturing CO2 emissions from large emitters such as coal power plants or cement factories – can reduce today’s level of CO2 emissions by a third by 2050. The study can be downloaded from the sidebar above.