Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is hailed as a miracle solution to combat climate change by the fossil fuel industry – a move that allows the industry to continue burning fossil fuels. The technology aims to capture emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels before it’s released into the atmosphere. However, it is shockingly expensive and is not yet scalable. The CO2 capture cost is the most expensive component of CCS – over 60% of the overall cost 1.
Whether adapting existing plants with the technology or building entirely new ones, using carbon capture technology requires a large investment1. And it’s an investment that may be better used elsewhere. For example, developing the clean energy that we already know works.
Cost of Different Methods of CO2 Capture
It is even difficult to analyze the most cost-efficient method of CO2 capture technologies. It depends on a range of factors related to location and type of capture. Therefore, the cost is often situation-specific and very hard to estimate. A site that is already operational would be cheaper to retrofit than to develop2.
Moreover, some CCS technologies can only be added to existing energy plants, whereas others need to be integrated with the CO2 at source, and as a result, can only be applied to new fossil fuel plants. High costs and the fact that these technologies are not yet scalable make it difficult to know which is more efficient 2.
CO2 Capture Cost Over Time
Due to economic growth in Asia, there have been significant increases in the cost of CCS over the past few decades. Materials, construction and technology are now more expensive than it has been in previous years. Therefore, capture technology has never been more of a costly venture.
Carbon capture technologies are expensive and currently do not have any significant impact on mitigating climate change. It may have a place as a scalable mitigation technology in the further, but not right now.
1. Bouzalakos S, Mercedes M. Overview of carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage technology. Developments and Innovation in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Capture and Storage Technology. 2010;1:1-24. doi:10.1533/9781845699574.1
2. Skagestad R, Lach A, Røkke N, Eldrup N. Critical Factors Influencing CO2 Capture Cost, a Case Study. Energy Procedia. 2014;63:7298-7306. doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2014.11.766
3. Rubin E, Davison J, Herzog H. The cost of CO2 capture and storage. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. 2015;40:378-400. doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2015.05.018