Clean Energy Ministers commit to accelerating CCS

12 April 2011

By Rupert Posner, Global Director of Energy, The Climate Group

First published on Global CCS Institute

It didn’t get much media coverage, but last week global energy ministers met in Abu Dhabi. They agreed to a proposal by its Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Action Group, headed by Australia and the UK, to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.

Speaking at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) meeting in Abu Dhabi, Chris Huhne, UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary said: “There can be no solution to climate change and energy security globally without carbon capture and storage. Deployment of the technology is tantalisingly close, but it won’t happen at commercial scale without concerted efforts by governments around the world to address legal, financial and technical barriers.”

'Tantalisingly close' might be overstating it just a little bit when it comes to CCS deployment in significant numbers, but the UK Minister is certainly correct that it won’t happen without a concerted effort by governments around the world.

There are a bunch of issues that governments need to resolve to get commercial scale projects built. And it is not just money - although this cannot be understated.

The challenge is to get this happening quickly. But energy projects of any type don’t happen quickly. And large projects like CCS that involve more elements than a regular power project, make doing this quickly even more of a challenge.

So it is good news that the 24 ministers representing 80% of the world's energy consumption and more than 90% of the world's clean energy investment have agreed to work harder on this.

They collectively agreed to:

  •   Advance policies that address the financial gap and risks associated with early-mover CCS projects;
  •    Identify and advance appropriate funding mechanisms to support the demonstration of large-scale CCS projects in developing economies;
  •    Advance the development of legal and regulatory frameworks for CCS;
  •   Promote the importance to global CCS deployment of ratifying key international marine treaty amendments;
  •    Support and encourage the development of best practice knowledge-sharing from early mover projects, in particular those with public funding;
  •    Review key gaps in storage data coverage and knowledge including capacity assessment; and
  •    Recognize the potential of CCS for industrial emission sources and review demonstration opportunities.

But while they collectively agreed to the above, only 12 of them: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the US and the UK agreed to continue or initiate action in support of one or more of these recommendations by the next CEM.

The first CEM was held in Washington DC in July 2010 and this was its second. When the UK hosts the third meeting in London in spring (UK) 2012, ministers will need to be able to report back some serious progress if CCS is going to be deployed at the pace we need.

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