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Uncertain storage prospects create a conundrum for carbon capture and storage ambitions


Grand hopes exist that carbon capture and storage can have a major decarbonization role at global, regional and sectoral scales. Those hopes rest on the narrative that an abundance of geological storage opportunity is available to meet all needs. In this Perspective, we present the contrasting view that deep uncertainty over the sustainable injection rate at any given location will constrain the pace and scale of carbon capture and storage deployment. Although such constraints will probably have implications in most world regions, they may be particularly relevant in major developing Asian economies. To minimize the risk that these constraints pose to the decarbonization imperative, we discuss steps that are urgently needed to evaluate, plan for and reduce the uncertainty over CO2 storage prospects.

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Fig. 1: Summary of CCS implementation in 20 modelled simulations compatible with the Paris Agreement 2 °C target.
Fig. 2: Using O&G production data to critique the relative prospects of meeting the regional CCS targets implied in the 2 °C scenario of the IEA’s ETP2017 study27.


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We thank A. Pascale, B. DeJesus, J. Kolenbrander and B. Kefford for their contributions to preparing the images used in the manuscript and the Supplementary Information. J.L. received funding support from the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University.

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J.L. conceived the manuscript outline, based on substantial engagement with C.G. and A.G., to elicit their industry experience and research perspectives. J.L wrote the manuscript and undertook the literature review, with contributions from C.G. and A.G. All of the authors contributed to the display items, with specific contributions for Boxes 1 and 2 (outline and images conceived by A.G.), Box 3 (outline and images conceived by C.G. with J.L.), Fig. 1 (conceived by J.L.) and Fig. 2 (conceived and designed by C.G. and J.L.). J.L. undertook the quantitative analysis and prepared all figures for the manuscript and Supplementary Information.

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Correspondence to Joe Lane.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Juan Alcalde, Hang Deng, Michael Kendall and Patricia Larkin for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–6, Discussion 1–3, Tables 1–5 and References.

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Lane, J., Greig, C. & Garnett, A. Uncertain storage prospects create a conundrum for carbon capture and storage ambitions. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 925–936 (2021).

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