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The critical role of CCS in the Clean Revolution

22 September 2011
The critical role of CCS in the Clean Revolution

NEW YORK: What role carbon, capture and storage (CCS) can play in the Clean Revolution was the focus of a high-level dialogue of senior business, government and NGO-leaders, following the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC on 19 September 2011.

The Climate Group held the event, entitled 'Powering the Clean Energy Revolution: A Business and Government Leaders Dialogue', in partnership with the Global CCS Institute and participants included energy sector, finance and legal executives as well as government and NGO representatives.

The discussion centered around the fact that the world currently relies on fossil energy for more than 80% of its current energy, and that by 2050, fossil energy is still forecast to provide about 70% of the world’s energy needs. The group agreed that boosting our use of renewable energy is an essential part of the clean energy revolution, as is much increased energy end-use efficiency.

However, they also agreed that if the world is going to achieve its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, cutting emissions from fossil fuels must be part of the solution; and given current technology and growth in global coal and gas consumption, the only practical way is through carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

The discussion focused on how to communicate the role that CCS can play to the wider business and government communities, and how to ensure that the early at-scale projects are brought on-line as soon as possible.

Retired Four Star General Richard Lawson kicked off the discussion by highlighting the challenge of making energy a core issue at the federal level in the United States, by sharing his experiences of getting energy included in the US National Security Policy -- something that has only just happened in the current administration.

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, who says she has now dedicated her life to building a large-scale coal-fired power station that doesn't emit CO2, said it is imperative that power stations with CCS are built as soon as possible, so people can see that it can be done today, and not at some distant point in the future. They need to touch and feel it, she said.

The challenge of building such a project - particularly in the US without a price on carbon - has made the task harder. It was widely recognized that projects that create multiple income streams, such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR), are not only needed to ensure their financial viability but also help ensure the bipartisan political support that is needed.

The group agreed that CCS needs more advocates and must be positioned as part of the suite of measures to address climate change, rather than as the orphan it is today.

Participants talked about how coal is at a historical crossroads, having been the driver of the economic growth of the last hundred years. They discussed how it could continue to be a driver of growth for the next hundred, if we address the many environmental challenges it faces, including its climate impact.

Partnerships, especially between the US and China, were seen as an opportunity to spur the CCS sector. It was pointed out that the US has great expertise in EOR and that this expertise could be used in many situations in China. By working with China's lower cost CCS projects, the US will benefit by helping drive the costs down for large-scale CCS projects globally.

Dr Victor Der, North American General Manager, Global CCS Institute, summed up the discussion by saying that in order for CCS to be rolled out, the sector will need to provide the broader community with the answer to two key questions: “What does it matter to me?” and “What is in it for me?” 

Rupert Posner, Global Director of Energy, The Climate Group, said: “The clock is ticking; we need to build at scale CCS projects quickly if fossil fuels are going to play a significant part of our future energy mix. There is a strong view that the technology is there to make this happen, but this needs to move from being an academic discussion to one on implementation.”

Read more about CCSExplore 

More from the Opening Ceremony: 

Clean Revolution launched at Climate Week NYC 

Blair, Bloomberg, UN, World Bank call for business and government leaders to join Clean Revolution

Business heads say innovate, collaborate on climate adaptation

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