Perspective

Learning through a portfolio of carbon capture and storage demonstration projects

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 15011 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2015.11
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology is considered by many to be an essential route to meet climate mitigation targets in the power and industrial sectors. Deploying CCS technologies globally will first require a portfolio of large-scale demonstration projects. These first projects should assist learning by diversity, learning by replication, de-risking the technologies and developing viable business models. From 2005 to 2009, optimism about the pace of CCS rollout led to mutually independent efforts in the European Union, North America and Australia to assemble portfolios of projects. Since 2009, only a few of these many project proposals remain viable, but the initial rationales for demonstration have not been revisited in the face of changing circumstances. Here I argue that learning is now both more difficult and more important given the slow pace of deployment. Developing a more coordinated global portfolio will facilitate learning across projects and may determine whether CCS ever emerges from the demonstration phase.

  • Subscribe to Nature Energy for full access:

    $59

    Subscribe

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

References

  1. 1.

    IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report. (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer, L.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014);

  2. 2.

    et al. Technological learning for carbon capture and sequestration technologies. Energy Econ. 26, 539–564 (2004).

  3. 3.

    Carbon Capture and Storage: Mobilising Private Sector Finance for CCS in the UK (Energy Technologies Institute and Ecofin Research Foundation, 2014);

  4. 4.

    et al. Designing climate mitigation policy. J. Econ. Lit. 48, 903–934 (2010).

  5. 5.

    & Transforming the energy sector: the evolution of technological systems in renewable energy technology. Ind. Corp. Change 13, 815–849 (2004).

  6. 6.

    , , , & The role of pilot and demonstration plants in technological development: synthesis and directions for future research. Technol. Anal. Strategic Manage. 27, 1–18 (2015).

  7. 7.

    , & What will CCS demonstrations demonstrate?. Mitig. Adapt. Strategic Glob. Change 3, 105–111 (2012).

  8. 8.

    The Global Status of CCS: 2014 (Global CCS Institute, 2014).

  9. 9.

    The Potential for Reducing the Costs of CCS in the UK (UK CCS Cost Reduction Task Force, 2013);

  10. 10.

    IPCC IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage (eds Metz, B., Davidson, O., de Coninck, H., Loos, M. & Meyer, L.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005);

  11. 11.

    et al. The Future of Coal: Options for a Carbon-Constrained World (MIT, 2007).

  12. 12.

    , & The social and political complexities of learning in carbon capture and storage demonstration projects. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 293–302 (2011).

  13. 13.

    Scaling up carbon dioxide capture and storage: From megatons to gigatons. Energy Econ. 33, 597–604 (2011).

  14. 14.

    & Demonstrating storage of CO2 in geological reservoirs: the Sleipner and SACS projects. Energy 29, 1361–1369 (2004).

  15. 15.

    & Use of carbon dioxide in enhanced oil recovery. Science 224, 563–569 (1984).

  16. 16.

    Amine scrubbing for CO2 capture. Science 325, 1652–1654 (2009).

  17. 17.

    & in Caching the Carbon (eds Meadowcroft, J. R. & Langhelle, O.) Ch. 7 (Edward Elgar, 2009).

  18. 18.

    SaskPower's case for carbon capture and storage. Cornerstone 3, 17–19 (2015).

  19. 19.

    Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage (International Energy Agency, 2009);

  20. 20.

    , , & Future costs of key low-carbon energy technologies: harmonization and aggregation of energy technology expert elicitation data. Energy Policy 80, 219–232 (2015).

  21. 21.

    & No quick switch to low-carbon energy. Nature 462, 568–569 (2009).

  22. 22.

    & Preparing for global rollout: a ‘developed country first’ demonstration programme for rapid CCS deployment. Energy Policy 36, 501–507 (2008).

  23. 23.

    & The political economy of technology support: Making decisions about carbon capture and storage and low carbon energy technologies. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 303–312 (2011).

  24. 24.

    , , & Trends in investments in global energy research, development, and demonstration. WIREs Clim. Change 2, 373–396 (2011).

  25. 25.

    , , & in Delivering a Low-Carbon Electricity System: Technologies, Economics, and Policy (eds Grubb, M., Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M. G.) Ch. 3 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008).

  26. 26.

    , & Multi-niche analysis of dynamics and policies in Dutch renewable energy innovation journeys (1970–2006): hype-cycles, closed networks and technology-focused learning. Technol. Anal. Strategic Manage. 20, 555–573 (2008).

  27. 27.

    Learning from variety and competition between technological options for generating photovoltaic electricity. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 63, 63–80 (2000).

  28. 28.

    & Stakeholder views on financing carbon capture and storage demonstration projects in China. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 643–651 (2012).

  29. 29.

    , & The socio-political context for deploying CCS in China and the U.S. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 324–335 (2011).

  30. 30.

    Climate change policy, market structure, and carbon leakage. J. Int. Econ. 65, 421–445 (2005).

  31. 31.

    et al. A socio-technical framework for assessing the viability of carbon capture and storage technology. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change. 79, 903–918 (2012).

  32. 32.

    & Public demonstration projects and field trials: Accelerating commercialisation of sustainable technology in solar photovoltaics. Energy Policy 37, 2560–2573 (2009).

  33. 33.

    & Pathways to commercial wind power in the US, Europe and Japan: The role of demonstration projects and field trials in the innovation process. Energy Policy 37, 3580–3595 (2009).

  34. 34.

    & Characterising CCS learning: The role of quantitative methods and alternative approaches. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 80, 1409–1417 (2013).

  35. 35.

    Nuclear power reactors: a study in technological lock-in. J. Econ. Hist. 50, 541–567 (1990).

  36. 36.

    & Lost in the mix: will the technologies of carbon dioxide capture and storage provide us with a breathing space as we strive to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewables? Climatic Change 110, 101–121 (2012).

  37. 37.

    & Technological innovation in the energy sector: R&D, deployment, and learning-by-doing. Energy Policy 34, 2601–2608 (2006).

  38. 38.

    , , & A review of learning rates for electricity supply technologies. Energy Policy 86, 198–218 (2015).

  39. 39.

    , & Global learning on carbon capture and storage: A call for strong international cooperation on CCS demonstration. Energy Policy 37, 2161–2165 (2009).

  40. 40.

    Global cooperation in research. Res. Pol. 27, 611–626 (1998).

  41. 41.

    Toward effective international cooperation on climate change: Numbers, interests and institutions. Glob. Environ. Politics 6, 90–103 (2006).

  42. 42.

    Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage (International Energy Agency, 2013);

  43. 43.

    , & The development and diffusion of radical technological innovation: The role of bus demonstration projects in commercializing fuel cell technology. Technol. Anal. Strategic Manage. 19, 167–188 (2007).

  44. 44.

    et al. Learning pathways for energy supply technologies: Bridging between innovation studies and learning rates. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 81, 96–114 (2014).

  45. 45.

    , & The cost of CO2 capture and storage. Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control 40, 378–400 (2015).

  46. 46.

    , , & The political economy of carbon capture and storage: An analysis of two demonstration projects. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change (in the press).

  47. 47.

    & NER300: Lessons learnt in attempting to secure CCS projects in Europe. Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control 19, 19–25 (2013).

  48. 48.

    Carbon capture and storage: Frames and blind spots. Energy Policy 82, 249–259 (2015).

  49. 49.

    Year in review – CCS on the move. (Bellona Europa, 10 December 2014);

  50. 50.

    Time to stop CCS investments and end government subsidies of fossil fuels. WIREs Clim. Change 5, 169–173 (2014).

  51. 51.

    , , Economic and time-sensitive issues surrounding CCS: A policy analysis. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 8959–8968 (2015).

  52. 52.

    , , , & Last chance for carbon capture and storage. Nature Clim. Change 3, 105–111 (2013).

  53. 53.

    , , & The sociology of expectations in science and technology. Technol. Anal. Strategic Manage. 18, 285–298 (2006).

  54. 54.

    EU Demonstration Programme for CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS): ZEP's Proposal (European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants, 2009);

  55. 55.

    , , , & The performance of the Norwegian carbon dioxide, capture and storage innovation system. Energy Policy 37, 43–55 (2009).

  56. 56.

    Clean Coal: DOE's Decision to Restructure FutureGen Should Be Based on a Comprehensive Analysis of Costs, Benefits, and Risks (General Accounting Office, 2009);

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG, UK.

    • David M. Reiner

Authors

  1. Search for David M. Reiner in:

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to David M. Reiner.