Utilisation of Carbon Capture and Storage for Building India's Green Future

A recent study published in Joule suggests that adopting CCS technologies, along with fuel switching to hydrogen or biomass, could reduce emissions from most industrial sectors by up to 85 percent.

April 02, 2024. By News Bureau

In India, there has been skepticism around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology due to its slow deployment progress over the last two decades. Stakeholders fear it could lead to delaying other climate actions and drive up power generation costs. However, CCS offers hope to investors and companies reliant on fossil fuels, potentially avoiding significant disruptions required for achieving a low-carbon future. By reducing the carbon footprint of fuels by approximately 90 percent, CCS allows continued use of fossil fuels until cleaner energy sources become more prevalent, which is especially significant for coal-dependent countries like India.

According to International Research, India's carbon emissions will surge by 8.2 percent in 2023. Similarly, global emissions from coal, oil, and gas are expected to climb by 1.1 percent, 1.5 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively. However, CCS is a climate change mitigation technology that captures carbon dioxide from power plants and industries, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. Captured greenhouse gasses are then stored underground, similar to natural processes that trap oil and gas over millions of years.

A recent study published in Joule suggests that adopting CCS technologies, along with fuel switching to hydrogen or biomass, could reduce emissions from most industrial sectors by up to 85 percent.

Significance of CCS Technologies

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed the importance of deploying technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit temperature that rises to 1.5°C (2.7°F). CCS is recognised as one such technology crucial for addressing global warming.

Consequently, the power sector is the largest contributor to carbon emissions, accounting for nearly 40 percent of global energy-related emissions. Despite the urgency to address climate change, emissions from the power sector in 2019 were only slightly lower than their 2018 peak, totaling 13.6 GtCO2.

Coal and gas-fired power plants still dominate the global electricity sector, comprising almost two-thirds of power generation. This share has remained relatively constant since 2000, despite the emergence of low-cost renewable energy sources. In fact, power generation from fossil fuels has risen by 70 percent since 2000 due to increasing global demand for electricity. As electricity access expands and end-use activities become more electrified, the global power sector faces the challenge of meeting growing demand while transitioning to a low-carbon future.

CCS to Achieve Net Zero Emissions Target

In the global and Indian context, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) emerges as a crucial method, alongside clean energy sources and policy measures, to achieve Net-Zero Emissions (NZE) targets. Private companies such as Reliance Industries and Dalmia Cement have committed to CCS as part of their net-zero goals. However, implementing CCS entails significant investment.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), meeting the Paris Agreement targets would require an additional investment of USD 9.7 trillion by 2050 in Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) deployment. India would need to peak its emissions by 2033 to align with these goals.

According to the NZE scenarios:

Electricity Generation Sector: By 2050, solar and wind energy are expected to make up 90 percent of all electricity generated. The electrical system will grow fourfold, but emissions will be halved of the current value.

Transport Sector: The demand for electric vehicles is set to rise, leading to a future where cars run on either electricity or fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles will use green hydrogen produced by splitting water through electrolysis.

Residential, Commercial and Agriculture: By 2050, residential and commercial sectors will fully shift to renewable energy for electricity, while agriculture will mainly rely on solar power and biodiesel.

Industry: After 2025, industrial emissions are expected to level off as there's a lack of readily available technology to significantly reduce them. However, the transition to cleaner practices will continue. To decrease emissions during this transition, CCS technologies will be crucial for the industrial sector. According to the NZE scenario, about 1.3 billion tonnes of residual CO2 is expected from the industrial sector, out of which 0.9 billion tonnes can be naturally absorbed by forests, wetlands, and mangroves, while the remaining 0.4 billion tonnes will need geologic storage. Therefore, implementing CCUS is vital for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, requiring the Indian government to focus on policies and technological deployment, potentially within this decade.

The Way Forward

Though not yet mainstream in India, the government and industries are exploring CCS technology’s techno-economic feasibility and scalability. India aims for carbon neutrality by 2070, planning a 50 percent emissions cut by 2030. Industries and public sector undertakings (PSUs) are leading in promoting CCS facilities, understanding the importance of carbon neutrality for sustainability and competitiveness.

In the quest for carbon neutrality, technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) represent just one facet of a comprehensive strategy. Equally crucial is the widespread adoption of energy-efficient technologies across all sectors of our society. A prime example is the emergence of super energy-efficient ceiling fans through an Indian innovation in 2012, along with the suitable policies that enabled market penetration. After the new government regulation and policy change in fans, the super energy efficient fans market share has increased more than 3 folds and continues to surge. The significant energy savings achieved through the widespread use of such fans underscore the potential of seemingly small changes in our daily routines and choices that can dramatically reduce atmospheric carbon levels. Thus, integrating other avenues with CCS can amplify the returns of CCS.

- Dr. Mayur Sundararajan, CEO, Superfan
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