Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Calls for CCS technology to be included under CDM

Speakers at the South African Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) conference on Wednesday agreed that including CCS under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) would be imperative in driving the technology forward, particularly in the developing world.

International Energy Agency analyst Brendan Beck explained that the CDM executive board, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), had been unsure on how to deal with CCS, as the technology was largely still in the development phases.

The issue was first flagged in 2005, and since then, negotiations have been taking place on how CCS could be included in the CDM, with no resolution to date. Beck added that many signatories to the Kyoto Protocol were in favour of including it, while others were neither for nor against it, and a "small minority" of countries opposed the inclusion of the technology.

Beck said that more clarity and feedback was expected after the global climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, which sought to address how the world would move forward beyond the 2012 Kyoto Protocol commitment period.

He also stated that CCS experts needed to continue providing evidence of the safety and security of CCS technology, and encourage public understanding and acceptance.

The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum would hold a ministerial meeting in London in October, where capacity building programmes would be discussed, and also, a strong message would be sent to the Copenhagen conference that financial support would be required for CCS in developing countries.

"It is a vital element to succeed with deploying CCS," affirmed Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy assistant DG William Christensen, when discussing inclusion of CCS in the CDM.

Norway was viewed as one of the front-running countries in CCS technology development, with two operational projects storing carbon dioxide (CO2), and two more on the drawing board. Christensen added that Norway hoped to expand its cooperation in CCS in South Africa. The Norwegian embassy was one of the major sponsors of the current conference.

Shell CO2 Policy GM Wolfgang Heidug also said that CCS should be recognised by the CDM executive board within a new, or post-2012 mechanism, and emphasised that, in addition to developing an international CCS certification, this was one of the main things that needed to happen for CCS to succeed.

"CDM is currently the only instrument that we have to help develop CO2 mitigation in the developing world," added Heidug, and argued that without it, there was no incentive to develop CCS in the developing world.

Because emerging economies were still increasing greenhouse gas emissions, while the developed world worked to reduce emissions, CCS was seen as an important technology in the developing world.

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change representative Chris Snary emphasised the importance of developing CCS competency in developed and developing countries in parallel, if global deployment of CCS were to be realised by 2020.

Snary noted that, for the UK government, working with China on CCS was a priority, because the rate at which power stations were being developed in China was "quite frightening".

The UK government was also involved in CCS support in South Africa, in Indonesia, and in India.

The CDM is an international programme creating a market system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. It allows industrialised countries, which have legally binding emissions-reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, to achieve these reductions through funding projects in developing economies. Investments to generate these reductions are compensated with certified emission reductions units (CERs - denominated in units of one ton of CO2).

There are currently 34 registered CDM projects in Africa, 12 of which are in South Africa, this is compared with of a total 1 834 worldwide.

Beck emphasised that without new policies, global emissions would increase by 130%, which would equate to a temperature rise of between 4 ºC and 7 ºC. World leaders have committed to ensuring that the temperature rise does not increase above 2 ºC.

Beck stated that CCS could provide some 19% of the required global CO2 reductions by 2050, but this would mean about 18 CCS projects would be needed by 2015, and a significant number of 3 400 CCS projects would be needed by 2050.

The split was about 35% of these projects to be located in non-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, and the remainder to be located in OECD member states.

Snary confirmed that global deployment of CCS was necessary by 2020 - and needed to be rolled out in significant numbers.

"If we are going to hit the 2020 mark, we need to start demonstrating this technology - nobody is going to deploy a technology that they have not seen working, especially in their own country. This goes for all governments," he added.

CCS is described as a fairly simple principle of extracting CO2 from exhaust emissions, and reinjecting it underground, where the fossil fuel originated. In practice, it is more complicated and CCS is broken down into four stages: capture, which separates CO2 from other exhaust gases, like nitrogen; compression and transport to the storage site through a pipeline; injection of the gas into a depleted gas or oilfield or deep saline aquifer; and monitoring and verification to ensure the CO2 stays buried.