Global Energy Assessment 201221 August 2012
CCS may be an important bridging technology in the medium term or even an essential technology if global energy demand keeps increasing. CCS offers a potentially relatively low-cost pathway to low-carbon energy. That is one of the conclusions of the Global Energy Assessment 2012 (GEA).
Our energy future
The GEA, published this summer during RIO+20, is a shared vision on the future of energy, systems and technologies and required policies by 500 experts from academia, business, authorities and NGOs, governed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The report, developed since 2006, confirms that the main challenges in energy can be met (affordability and accessibility for all 9 billion people by 2050, security of supply, limit global warming to 2°C). It identifies 41 different pathways that lead to a sustainable energy system, in an economically viable way.
Importance of CCS varies per pathway
Energy efficiency and renewables have the priority, and depending on their progress CCS is also required. In the group of pathways relying on efficiency, CCS plays only a moderate or even zero role, in other pathways the importance of CCS grows. The GEA especially identifies CCS with the coproduction of transportation and cooking fuels and power as most advantageous, because it supports all of the goals related to economic growth, jobs, energy security, local and regional environmental benefits, health, and climate change mitigation. However, the report says: "No technological breakthroughs are needed to get started with co-production strategies, but there are formidable institutional hurdles created by the need to manage two disparate feedstock supply chains (for coal and biomass) and provide simultaneously three products (liquid fuels, electricity, and CO2) serving three different commodity markets."
Conditions for expansion of CCS
CCS and biomass might be needed to provide negative CO2 emissions. But the report also states some conditions: "Expanding CCS will require reducing its costs, supporting scale-up, assuring carbon storage integrity and environmental compatibility, and securing approval of storage sites." Only strong policies, including effective pricing of CO2, could fundamentally change the fossil energy system. "A five- to ten-fold scale-up in the size of individual projects is needed to capture and store emissions from a typical coal-fired power plant. A thousand-fold scale-up in CCS would be needed to reduce emissions by billions of tonnes per year."
In general, the GEA advocates immediate action concerning all technologies in the pathways that are described. Concerning CCS, GEA says: "Government support to lower barriers for early deployment is needed to encourage private-sector adoption."
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