Letter to the Editor

Following his presentation at the London EAGE we invited Philip Ringrose (Equinor & NNTU) to respond to our 2017 editorial*, where we doubted the economic likelihood of carbon capture and sequestration. He kindly got back with the following.

Hello Neil,

Your persistence in asking me to reply to your Editorial has paid off – sorry I was so hard to contact.

CCS is generally under attack from the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ of climate politics – so addressing more criticism is not something I look forward to.

It is true CCS has made slow progress. However, your summary tends to exaggerate both the cost of and ambitions for CCS. Below is my summary of the state of play at the moment:

1. According to the IEA (1), CCS is anticipated to support approximately 13% of total cumulative emissions reductions through 2050, requiring around 120,000 million tonnes (Mt) of cumulative CO2 reduction by 2050. Annual storage rates in 2050 are expected to be 6-7,000 Mtpa.

2. Currently 17 large-scale CCS facilities are in operation together with a further 4 under construction. These have an installed capture capacity of 37 Mtpa (see GCCI report (2)) so the scale up required is a factor of about 200.

3. The IPCC (3) has argued that emissions reduction costs without CCS deployment could be as much as 29% to 297% higher by 2100. So in the long-term CCS is cost effective, on the assumption that governments/societies actually want significant emissions reductions.

4. The most recent IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C requires CCS in most scenarios, and tends to focus on Bio-energy and CCS (BECCS) to create negative emissions (but at levels that seem ‘very challenging’).

5. There are a few signs in the EU, the US/Canada and in China that CCS is starting to be in focus again. Angela Merkel went public by stating the need for CCS, which is quite a change for Germany! The US recently passed the 45Q tax incentive for CCUS.

6. Currently Norway is pushing ahead with a new full-scale CCS project, reducing emissions from industry (cement and waste incineration). But there are only a few signs that other nations are serious about CCS.

7. Regarding economics – Equinor and Northern Gas networks (UK) recently published a detailed analysis of developing a hydrogen economy using CCS, including a full economic analysis. Read the report on the H21 North of England project.

So yes, CCS is more costly than not decarbonizing – but if we want to significantly reduce emissions, we need it (in addition to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures).

Best regards

Philip Ringrose

Specialist, Reservoir Geoscience, Equinor ASA

Adjunct Prof. NTNU, Trondheim, Norway


(1) IEA, Carbon Capture and Storage: The solution for deep emissions reductions (International Energy Agency Publications, Paris, 2015).

(2) Global CCS Institute, Global status of CCS: 2018.

(3) Edenhofer, O. et al., (Eds), Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III (WG3) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

* COP23 BECCS, FECCS and the future of fossil fuel.

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