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The Scale of CCS Projects Expands

Serkan Birgel
Mar 03, 2022

GHI Blog

The Houston Ship Channel CCS (carbon capture and storage) Innovation Zone proposes to capture up to 50 million tonnes of CO2 per annum (Mtpa) by 2030 and up to 100 Mtpa by 2040. Led by ExxonMobil, the venture is backed by a consortium of oil & gas producers (including supermajor Shell), refiners, chemical makers, and power generation companies that call the 50-mile long Houston Ship Channel home. These are unprecedented figures for CCS, and if the proposal comes to commercial fruition, the CCS Innovation Zone will become the largest CCS project in the world. The reported financial investment of $100 billion seeks to aggregate CO2 for storage in offshore wells.

However, the emergence of CCS clustering or hub projects across a single industry is not the only unprecedented development—large-scale decarbonization proposals are drawing in multiple actors across diverse industries. Guidehouse has launched a new consortium called Building the Clean Hydrogen Economy, which will lead regional and global members to create pilot projects that use clean hydrogen to decarbonize heavy transport, increase renewables integration, and decrease emissions in the US energy sector.

First Movers: Large-Scale Pipeline Systems

Earlier CCS projects focused on standalone plants that would capture carbon mostly for localized enhanced oil recovery (EOR). EOR still constitutes a significant amount of global captured carbon use. However, both storage and the industrial usage of CCS are on the rise as the industry matures and diversifies into different industrial sectors. Clusters and hubs that target the capture of CO2 from a diverse range industries have continued to emerge in conjunction with the recent momentum in the CCS industry catalyzed by financial incentives.

As discussed in a previous blog, two major CCS clusters came from the bioethanol industry in the US Midwest with capture capacities of up to 15 Mtpa (conditional on full expansion). Additionally, Wolf Midstream and ADM announced plans to capture up to 12 Mtpa from the latter’s two bioethanol plants in January 2022. That makes three pipeline systems now planned across the Midwest that will transport CO2 for dedicated geological storage.

Multi-Partner Storage Projects in Europe

Multi-partner CCS projects are also emerging in Northwest Europe. Norway’s Longship CCS project (the offshore transport and storage component of which is known as Northern Lights) plans to incorporate Norcem’s CCS project at its cement factory in Brevik (the first CCS project at a cement factory) and Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste-to-energy plant. The captured carbon (around 1.5 Mtpa) will be liquified and transported by ship to an onshore receiving terminal (which can be expanded in the future) and then via pipeline to offshore storage. The ability to ship CO2 as part of the process can provide added flexibility to CO2 transport efforts, potentially unlocking economies of scale and ensuring greater transport and storage utilization. At the same time, additional capture operators can join the fray and permanently store their emissions through CCS.