UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference – Plenary 5 – Global Updates (ECR Meeting Fund)

Yaoyao Zheng (University of Nottingham), Balkan Mutlu (Teesside University Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre), Ben Rhodes (University of Cambridge) and Xu Yang (University of Birmingham) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 5 – Global Updates” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

The second day of the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 conference delved into a range of topics, including discussions on the global development of CCS, with perspectives from China, Canada and Japan. This session was chaired by Dr. Abby Samson from the University of Sheffield, who warmly welcomed international presenters and underscored the outlook and significance of CCS development globally.

Speaker One – Prof. Xi Liang

Professor Xi Liang from University College London, also serving as the Secretary General and co-founder of UK-China (Guangdong) CCUS Centre, shared the latest development on the CCUS front in China. Over 100 projects are in operation, under construction or planned by the end of 2024. These will lead to an annual CO2 capture of over 9 million tons (Mt).

The power sector in China predominantly employs post-combustion capture with amine solution, complemented by a variety of other technologies such as membrane systems, pre-combustion capture with IGCC, oxy-fuel combustion, and chemical looping combustion. In the cement and steel industries, notable advancements included Conch Cement’s initiation of China’s first carbon capture plant in 2018, capable of capturing 50,000 tons of CO2 annually. Additionally, Bao Steel Group is constructing a carbon capture project in Inner Mongolia, China, targeting an annual 2 Mt of CO2 capture.

Prof Liang also brought attention to significant progress in carbon storage solutions, with examples including China’s 1st deep saline aquifer, CO2 storage demo project initiated by Shenhua in 2011, China National Offshore Oil Corporation offshore CO2 storage project in 2021 with a targeting annual CO2 storage capacity of 300,000 tons. In addition, Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group are planning a 4 Mt carbon storage project, making it China’s biggest carbon storage initiative to date.

There has also been CCUS cluster planning in China, nationally and internationally. Professor Liang expressed optimism about commercial prospects between China and the UK, especially markets in carbon capture, transport, usage, storage and industry capacity building within the CCUS sector.

Speaker Two – Mr. Neil Wildgust

Neil Wildgust from Carbon Management Canada (CMC) had a message for everyone that stuck – ‘don’t take storage for granted.’ As the technology, frameworks and integration aim to maintain the course of rapid development to reach climate targets, the unavoidable need for reliable, enormous-scale and risk-free storage cannot be understated. Failed storage equals no CCS.

The great potential and work on CCS in the Canadian states of Alberta and Saskatchewan were well summarised in Neil’s presentation. Currently, there are three operational CCS projects (incl. EOR and coal power PCC) at the Mt yr-1 scale nationally, with 26 projects in Alberta alone in the running for funding and development, with up to 10 aiming for delivery in the coming years. The federal government currently offers tax credit support for CAPEX as well as effective federal carbon pricing aiming to reach CA$170 per ton by 2031. In addition to this, in Alberta, the province offers more flexible tax credits to aim to encourage more industrial engagement.

However, much of the success of CCS projects in Canada  relies heavily on governmental grants. Industrial investment remains somewhat cautious due to potentially volatile political decisions with opposition parties proposing future scrapping of any carbon tax.

This uncertainty for investment must be overcome in order to drive CCS forward in Canada, with government incentives either replaced or guaranteed to ensure the growth of CCS is driven at the required rate. Certainty in technology can be aided through initiatives such as CMC’s Newell County test site, which aims to build a test DAC unit on-site in the near future.

Speaker Three – Prof. Toru Sato

Professor Toru Sato from the University of Tokyo shared pivotal insights into Japan’s CCS initiatives, emphasising the country’s goal for carbon neutrality by 2050, as announced at COP25 in 2019. Following the recent approval of the CCS Business Act in 2024, Japan is setting a rigorous framework for CCS, underlining the importance of long-term well monitoring and maintenance to ensure safety and sustainability.

By 2030, CCS aims to offset 10-20% of Japan’s annual 1 gigatonne CO2 emissions, with industrial consortiums mobilizing around strategic clusters and ports designated for CO2 exportation due to low social public acceptance. This plan includes exporting CO2 to Malaysia and leveraging their depleted oil and gas fields for storage.

Challenges such as high operational costs, the need for continuous government funding, and stringent regulations, including the requirement for mandatory CO2 monitoring in seawater, underscored the complexities of Japan’s CCS journey. The innovative approach of Sato’s research team, which used AI to model CO2 leakage by drawing analogies to natural volcanic activities, offered promising solutions to these challenges.