Carbon capture, utilisation and storage

A critical tool in the climate energy toolbox

Carbon, capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of the only technology solutions that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation and deliver the deep emissions reductions needed across key industrial processes such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing, all of which will remain vital building blocks of modern society.

What is CCUS?

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCUS, is an important emissions reduction technology that can be applied in the industrial sector and in power generation. These technologies involve the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fuel combustion or industrial processes, the transport of CO2 via ship or pipeline, and either its use as a resource to create valuable products or services or its permanent storage deep underground in geological formations. CCUS technologies also provide the foundation for carbon removal or “negative emissions” when the CO2 comes from bio-based processes or directly from the atmosphere.

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Meeting climate and energy goals

CCUS technologies will play an important role in meeting energy and climate goals. In the IEA Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), CCUS accounts for 7% of the cumulative emissions reductions needed globally to 2040. This implies a rapid scale-up of CCUS deployment, from around 30 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 currently captured each year to 2 300 Mt per year by 2040.

The pathway to net zero and negative emissions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted that achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement to limit future temperature increases to 1.5 degrees will require more than just an acceleration of efforts to reduce emissions; it may also require the deployment of technologies to actually remove carbon from the atmosphere.

The most mature carbon dioxide removal technology is bio-energy with CCS, or BECCS. BECCS involves the conversion of biomass, which extracts CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows, to chemical products or other forms of energy with the resulting CO2 captured and geologically stored. Possible applications of BECCS include: dedicated or co-firing of biomass in power plant; combined heat and power; pulp and paper mills; lime kilns; ethanol plants; biogas refineries; and biomass gasification plants. Certain biomass conversion processes, including fermentation and gasification technologies, generate high-purity CO2 streams as an intrinsic part of the process, thus providing lower-cost capture opportunities. 

The IPCC found that in pathways with limited or no temperature overshoot, up to 400 Gt of BECCS could be required this century. Today, there is one large-scale BECCS facility in operation, at the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage facility in the United States, capturing and storing 1 Mt of CO2 per year.

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