CCS Networks in the Circular Carbon Economy: Linking Emissions Sources to Geologic Storage Sinks
4th October 2021
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) networks linking emissions point sources to a CO2 transport and storage hub is emerging as the lowest-cost and most cost-effective method of CCS development. As part of the Circular Carbon Economy: Keystone to Global Sustainability series with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, this report reviews emissions and storage basins worldwide, seeking to link clusters of emissions-intensive regions to potential geologic storage basins.
The report is presented in two parts:
- In part one, using a single methodology to characterise global emissions and basins, the authors perform a high-level, regional analysis identifying potential CCS networks by linking suitable storage to intense emissions centres across the globe
- In part two the authors present a conceptual approach to designing a CO2 transport network from distributed sources to a target geological formation for storage, outlining the selection of gas-phase and dense-phase pipeline transport as well as an approach to minimising the cost of pipelines over the network.
Green Hydrogen in a Circular Carbon Economy: Opportunities and Limits
26th August 2021
As global warming mitigation and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction become increasingly urgent to counter climate change, many nations have announced net-zero emission targets as a commitment to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Low-carbon hydrogen has received renewed attention under these decarbonization frameworks as a potential low-carbon fuel and feedstock, especially for hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy-duty transportation (trucks, shipping) and heavy industries (e.g., steel, chemicals). Green hydrogen in particular, defined as hydrogen produced from water electrolysis with zero-carbon electricity, could have significant potential in helping countries transition their economies to meet climate goals. Today, green hydrogen production faces enormous challenges, including its cost and economics, infrastructure limitations, and potential increases in CO2 emissions (e.g., if produced with uncontrolled fossil power generation, which would be hydrogen but would not be green).
This report, part of the Carbon Management Research Initiative at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, examines green hydrogen production and applications to understand the core challenges to its expansion at scale and the near-term opportunity to enable deployment. An analysis using Monte Carlo simulations with a varying range of assumptions, including both temporal (i.e., today versus the future) and geographical (e.g., the US, the EU, China, India, Japan) factors, anticipates emissions intensity and costs of producing green hydrogen. The authors evaluate these production costs for different scenarios as well as associated infrastructure requirements and highlight near-term market opportunities and policies to motivate development of the green hydrogen industry.
Key findings include:
- Green hydrogen could play a major role in a decarbonized economy. Green hydrogen and fuels derived from it (e.g., ammonia, methanol, aviation fuels) can replace higher-carbon fuels in some areas of the transportation sector, industrial sector, and power sector. They can provide low-carbon heat, serve as low-carbon feedstock and reducing gas for chemical processes, and act as an anchor for recycling CO2.
- The primary challenge to green hydrogen adoption and use is its cost. The cost of green hydrogen is high today, between $6–12/kilogram (kg) on average in most markets, and may remain high without subsidies and other policy supports. Zero-carbon electricity is the primary cost element of production (50–70 percent) even in geographies with significant renewable resources, with electrolyzers and the balance of system as secondary costs.
- Green hydrogen commercialization is also limited by existing infrastructure. Growing demand of green hydrogen will require enormous investment and construction of electricity transmission, distribution and storage networks, and much larger volumes of zero-carbon power generation, as well as electrolyzer production systems, some hydrogen pipelines, and hydrogen fueling systems. An 88 million tons per annum (Mtpa) green hydrogen production by 2030, corresponding to the Stated Policies Scenario from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for that year, could cost $2.4 trillion and require 1,238 gigawatts (GW) of additional zero-carbon power generation capacity.
- Some nations have developed hydrogen road maps with large green hydrogen components. The governments of Japan, Canada, and the EU (including some member nations, notably Germany) have published formal road maps for hydrogen production, use, and growth. These plans include industrial policy (e.g., subsidies for manufacturing electrolyzer and fuel cells), port infrastructure (e.g., industrial hubs), and market aligning policies. These plans may provide these nations a competitive advantage in scaling, using, and adopting green hydrogen.
- Additional factors could support or limit rapid scale-up of hydrogen production. Use of green hydrogen and hydrogen fuels could provide substantial additional benefits to local economies and environments, including reduction of particulate and sulfur pollution, maintenance or growth of high-wage jobs, and new export opportunities (fuels, commodities, and technologies). Public concerns around safety, ammonia toxicity, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, however, might present additional challenges to ramping up deployment of hydrogen systems.
Based on these findings, the authors recommend the following set of policy actions:
- Nations and regions that wish to pursue green hydrogen production and use should prioritize detailed analysis and planning today. Location and scale of infrastructure bottlenecks, limits to electrolyzer and fuel cell production, potential trade-offs in cost and speed with competition, resource availability, public risks, and financial gaps in specific markets and applications must be studied and considered in planning.
- To reduce emissions rapidly through green hydrogen deployment, nations and regions should adopt market-aligning policies and production standards. The substantial price gap between green hydrogen and “gray” hydrogen (produced with fossil fuels without carbon capture) calls for active policy intervention to bring production online to serve existing and future markets. This could include measures to reduce or subsidize the cost of zero-carbon electricity or measures to incentivize the value and use of low-carbon hydrogen.
- Local, regional, and national governments interested in green hydrogen development should prioritize the construction of necessary infrastructure. Major new infrastructure and infrastructure transformation (e.g., gas grid transformation for transporting and storing green hydrogen) is required for electricity transmission, hydrogen production, hydrogen storage, hydrogen transmission, fueling for transportation (both hydrogen and ammonia), and international trade ports.
- Governments pursuing green hydrogen should increase investments in innovation, including research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). Investments could be focused on the early-stage research on low technology readiness level approaches, improving manufacturing for commercialized technology, and novel ways of producing low-cost, zero-carbon electricity.
- Policymakers should appreciate and account for green hydrogen benefits outside of carbon abatement when crafting policies. Additional benefits can include reduction of criteria pollutants (e.g., sulfur, particulates, and nitrogen oxides) and grid reliability and resilience.
CCS in the Circular Carbon Economy: Policy and Regulatory Recommendations
23rd July 2021
CCS is one of many climate mitigating technologies that is mature, commercially available, and absolutely necessary to achieve global net-zero ambitions and a stable climate. The total installed CCS capacity must increase 100-fold by 2050 to limit global warming to below 2° Celsius.
This report summarises policy and legal factors that have a material impact on the investability of CCS projects and makes recommendations on how governments may facilitate greater private sector investment in CCS.
The report examines and covers:
- Financing CCS
- The development of CCS-specific legal and regulatory frameworks
- Recommendations addressing policy, finance and regulatory matters
Opportunities and Limits of CO2 Recycling in a Circular Carbon Economy: Techno-economics, Critical Infrastructure Needs, and Policy Priorities
12th May 2021
Despite growing efforts to drastically cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and address climate change, energy outlooks project that the world will continue to rely on certain products that are currently carbon-intensive to produce but have limited alternatives, such as aviation fuels and concrete. Recycling CO2 into valuable chemicals, fuels, and materials has emerged as an opportunity to reduce the emissions of these products. In this way, CO2 recycling is a potential cornerstone of a circular carbon economy that can support a net-zero future. However, CO2 recycling processes have largely remained costly and difficult to deploy, underscoring the need for supportive policies informed by analysis of the current state and future challenges of CO2 recycling.
This report examines 19 CO2 recycling pathways to understand the opportunities and the technical and economic limits of CO2 recycling products gaining market entry and reaching global scale. The pathways studied consume renewable (low-carbon) electricity and use chemical feedstocks derived from electrochemical pathways powered by renewable energy. Across these CO2 recycling pathways, the authors evaluated current globally representative production costs, sensitivities to cost drivers, carbon abatement potential, critical infrastructure and feedstock needs, and the effect of subsidies.
Key findings of the analysis include the following:
- CO2 recycling pathways could deliver deep emissions reductions. When supplied by low-carbon electricity and chemical feedstocks, CO2 recycling pathways have the combined potential to abate 6.8 gigatonnes of CO2 per year (GtCO2/yr) when displacing conventional production methods.
- Some CO2 recycling pathways have reached market parity today, while the costs of remaining pathways are high. Electrochemical carbon monoxide (CO) production, ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass, concrete carbonation curing, and the CarbonCure concrete process all have an estimated cost of production (ECOP) lower than the product selling price. These pathways have a combined carbon abatement potential of 1.6 GtCO2/yr. Most remaining pathways have an ECOP of 2.5 to 7.5 times greater than the product selling price. In particular locations and contexts, ECOP may be substantially lower, but these costs are representative of CO2 recycling at global scale.
- Catalyst performance and input prices are the main cost drivers. The largest component of ECOP is electricity and chemical feedstock costs, and the main cost drivers are those who influence these two cost components. For electrochemical pathways, ECOP is most sensitive to catalyst product selectivity (the ability of the catalyst to avoid unwanted side reactions), catalyst energy efficiency, and electricity price. For thermochemical pathways, the largest cost drivers are product selectivity, chemical feedstock price, and the price of the electricity used to make the feedstocks.
- CO2 recycling at the scale of current global markets would require enormous new capacity of critical infrastructure. Each pathway at global scale would consume thousands of terawatt hours of electricity, 30–100 million metric tons (Mt) of hydrogen, and up to 2,000 Mt of CO2 annually. This would require trillions of dollars of infrastructure per pathway to generate and deliver these inputs, including a combined 8,400 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity and 8,000 GW of electrolyzer capacity across all pathways.
Based on these findings, the authors recommend the following set of policy actions:
- Ensure CO2 recycling pathways are fed by low-carbon inputs. Without low-carbon electricity and feedstocks, CO2 recycling could potentially be more carbon-intensive than conventional production.
- Prioritize certain pathways strategically. CO2 recycling methane and ethane production are extremely uneconomic and should be deprioritized. All other pathways are more economically promising and could be the focus of a targeted innovation agenda to reduce costs. In addition, the following pathways that have an ECOP less than 5 times the selling price could be prioritized for early market growth: electrochemical CO production, green hydrogen, ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass, concrete carbonation curing pathways, CO2 recycling urea production, and CO2 hydrogenation to light olefins, methanol, or jet fuel.
- Target research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to catalyst innovation to bring down ECOP and reduce input demand. Policy makers can promote RD&D to improve the selectivity and energy efficiency of CO2 recycling catalysts. By decreasing a pathway’s consumption of electricity and feedstocks, these innovations would both decrease ECOP and alleviate the sizable critical infrastructure needs.
- Create demand pull for early market CO2 recycling products. Governments can use demand pull policies such as public procurement standards to bolster early markets for the most mature CO2 recycling pathways.
- Promote build-out of critical infrastructure. To provide for the substantial infrastructure needs of CO2 recycling, policy makers can seek to remove barriers to and catalyze investment in building renewables installations, transmission lines, electrolyzers, and CO2 transport pipelines.
13th April 2021
The urgency of reaching net-zero emissions requires a rapid acceleration in the deployment of all emissions reducing technologies. Near-zero emissions hydrogen (clean hydrogen) has the potential to make a significant contribution to emissions reduction in the power generation, transportation, and industrial sectors.
As part of the Circular Carbon Economy: Keystone to Global Sustainability series with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, this report explores the potential contribution of blue hydrogen to climate mitigation.
The report looks at:
- Cost drivers for renewable hydrogen and hydrogen produced with fossil fuels and CCS;
- Resource requirements and cost reduction opportunities for clean hydrogen; and
- Policy recommendations to drive investment in clean hydrogen production.
Blue hydrogen is well placed to kickstart the rapid increase in the utilisation of clean hydrogen for climate mitigation purposes but requires strong and sustained policy to incentivise investment at the rate necessary to meet global climate goals.
Technology Readiness and Costs of CCS
5th April 2021
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are essential technologies to help achieve net zero ambitions. The cost of deployment of CO2 capture, transport and storage systems is of vital economic and environmental importance. This importance will continue to increase as the scale and breadth of CCS deployment grows around the world.
This report from the Global CCS Institute examines CCS technology from two perspectives: technology readiness and factors influencing costs.
Key drivers of CCS cost include:
- Economies of scale;
- Partial pressure of CO2 in the source gas;
- Energy costs; and
- Technological innovation.
Mature and emerging technologies in carbon capture, transport and storage are surveyed for technological readiness. Technological development will be a key element of driving future cost reductions in CCS and applying CCS to hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, steel and direct air capture.