Even as nations diversify their energy portfolios, fossil fuels are expected to meet a majority of the world’s energy demand for several decades. Accelerating deployment of carbon capture technology is essential to reduce emissions from these power plants, and from industrial plants like cement and steel manufacturing.
More than half of the models cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report required carbon capture for a goal of staying within 2 degrees Celsius of warming from pre-industrial days. For models without carbon capture, emissions reduction costs rose 138 percent.
For nearly a half century, in a practice called enhanced oil recovery (EOR), carbon dioxide has been used to extract additional oil from developed oil fields in the United States. U.S. companies are also investing in new technologies to re-use captured carbon emissions in innovative ways, including jet fuel and automobile seats. Spurred by the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, researchers are exploring even more uses, such as transforming carbon emissions into algae biofuels and building materials.
Policy Support for Carbon Capture
There is strong bipartisan support to accelerate carbon capture deployment. In February 2018, Congress extended and expanded key financial incentives for investment in several advanced low-carbon technologies. The two-year budget package included the FUTURE Act, sponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). The legislation reforms and extends a federal tax credit to boost carbon capture, known as Section 45Q. The FUTURE Act also allows for the first time use of the tax credit for capture of carbon monoxide from industrial facilities like steel mills, direct air capture of CO2 from the atmosphere, and for the conversion of captured carbon into useful products.
C2ES and the Great Plains Institute co-convene a diverse coalition of industry, labor, and environmental groups that support expanding deployment of carbon capture. Other supporters of incentivizing carbon capture include the Western Governors Association, Southern States Energy Board, and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioner
Carbon Capture in Action
As of 2017, at least 21 commercial-scale carbon capture projects are operating around the world with 22 more in development. Industrial processes where large-scale carbon capture has been demonstrated and is in commercial operation include coal gasification, ethanol production, fertilizer production, natural gas processing, refinery hydrogen production and, most recently, coal-fired power generation.
Carbon Capture Milestones
1972: Terrell gas processing plant in Texas. A natural gas processing facility (along with several others) began supplying CO2 in West Texas through the first large-scale, long-distance CO2 pipeline to an oilfield.
1982: Koch Nitrogen Company Enid Fertilizer plant in Oklahoma. This fertilizer production plant supplies CO2 to oil fields in southern Oklahoma.
1986: Exxon Shute Creek Gas Processing Facility in Wyoming. This natural gas processing plant serves ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Anadarko Petroleum CO2 pipeline systems to oil fields in Wyoming and Colorado and is the largest commercial carbon capture facility in the world at 7 million tons of capacity annually.
1996: Sleipner CO2 Storage Facility offshore of Norway. This project captures CO2 from gas development for storage in an offshore sandstone reservoir. It was the world’s first geologic storage project. Roughly 0.85 million tonnes of CO2 is injected annually for a cumulative total of over 16.5 million tonnes as of January 2017.
2000: Dakota Gasification’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant in North Dakota. This coal gasification plant produces synthetic natural gas, fertilizer, and other byproducts. It has supplied over 30 million tons of CO2 to Cenovus and Apache-operated EOR fields in southern Saskatchewan as of 2015.
2003: Core Energy/South Chester Gas Processing Plant in Michigan. CO2 is captured by Core Energy from natural gas processing for EOR in northern Michigan with over 2 million MT captured to date.
2008: Snøhvit CO2 Storage offshore of Norway. CO2 is captured from an LNG facility on an island in the Barents Sea. The captured CO2 is stored in an offshore subsurface reservoir. To date, more than 4 million tonnes of CO2 have been stored.
2009: Chaparral/Conestoga Energy Partners’ Arkalon Bioethanol plant in Kansas. The first ethanol plant to deploy carbon capture, it supplies 170,000 tons of CO2 per year to Chaparral Energy, which uses it for EOR in Texas oil fields.
2010: Occidental Petroleum’s Century Plant in Texas. The CO2 stream from this natural gas processing facility is compressed and transported for use in the Permian Basin.
2012: Air Products Port Arthur Steam Methane Reformer Project in Texas. Two hydrogen production units at this refinery produce a million tons of CO2 annually for use in Texas oilfields.
2012: Conestoga Energy Partners/PetroSantander Bonanza Bioethanol plant in Kansas. This ethanol plant captures and supplies roughly 100,000 tons of CO2 per year to a Kansas EOR field.
2013: ConocoPhillips Lost Cabin plant in Wyoming. The CO2 stream from this natural gas processing facility is compressed and transported to the Bell Creek oil field in Montana via Denbury Resources’ Greencore pipeline.
2013: Chaparral/CVR Energy Coffeyville Gasification Plant in Kansas. The CO2 stream (approximately 850,000 tons per year) from a nitrogen fertilizer production process based on gasification of petroleum coke is captured, compressed and transported to a Chaparral-operated oil field in northeastern Oklahoma.
2013: Antrim Gas Plant in Michigan. CO2 from a gas processing plant owned by DTE
Energy is captured at a rate of approximately 1,000 tons per day and injected into a nearby oil field operated by Core Energy in the Northern Reef Trend of the Michigan Basin.
2013: Petrobras Santos Basin Pre-Salt Oil Field CCS offshore of Brazil. This project involves capturing CO2 from natural gas processing for use in enhanced oil recovery in the Lula and Sapinhoá oil fields.
2014: SaskPower Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada. SaskPower completed the first commercial-scale retrofit of an existing coal-fired power plant with carbon capture technology, selling CO2 locally for EOR in Saskatchewan.
2015: Shell Quest project in Alberta, Canada. Shell began operations on a bitumen upgrader complex that captures approximately one million tons of CO2 annually from hydrogen production units and injects it into a deep saline formation.
2015: Uthmaniyah CO2-EOR Demonstration in Saudi Arabia. This project captures CO2 from the Hawiyah natural gas liquids recovery plant. The captured CO2 is used for enhanced oil recovery in the Ghawar oil field.
2016: Abu Dhabi CCS Project Phase 1: Emirates Steel Industries. Carbon capture technology was deployed for the first time on an operating iron and steel plant. The captured CO2 is used for enhanced oil recovery by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
2017: NRG Petra Nova project in Texas. NRG completed on time and on budget a project to capture 90 percent of the CO2 from a 240 MW slipstream of flue gas of its existing WA Parish plant, or roughly 1.6 million tons of CO2 per year. The CO2 is transported to an oil field nearby.
2017: ADM Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture & Storage Project. Archer Daniels Midland began capturing CO2 from an ethanol production facility and sequestering it in a nearby deep saline formation. The project can capture up to 1.1 million tons of CO2 per year.