Written by Madison Savilow
With the climate crisis looming, climate solutions are widely debated. One of these climate solutions is carbontech or the CCUS industry. Not sure what that means? Well, I have some answers for you:
What is Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)/Carbontech?
- You’ve probably heard the acronym CCUS or the colloquial term “Carbontech”. CCUS is short for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage.
- Check out this great explainer video made by XPRIZE’s Marcius Extavour.
What is Carbon Capture?
- Carbon Capture is an umbrella term for two types of acquiring CO2. The first is carbon capture from point source emissions in which CO2 is filtered from flue gases produced from industrial processes, like a natural gas plant. The second is carbon removal or direct air capture (DAC) in which CO2 is filtered from the ambient air. Carbon Engineering and Climeworks are examples of companies with DAC technologies.
What is Carbon Utilization?
- Carbon Utilization is the process of converting CO2 in value-add end products, like concrete additives, plastics, fuels, alcohol. The end products are broad and have commercial value.
What is Carbon Storage?
- Carbon Storage is storing CO2 under the ground in a stable environment, removing the risk of it harming the environment. This also includes Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
Are all CCUS techniques effective in reducing carbon emissions?
- Not all CCUS techniques effectively reduce carbon emissions because there are many factors, (cost, market dynamics, technical efficiencies, etc.) that limit how much CO2 that can be captured, converted/utilized, or stored by each technology.
- With all climate solutions, there are tradeoffs that need to be assessed and weighed for the appropriate use of the technology.
- Carbon Capture, particularly DAC, has been criticized for being a costly solution but the IPCC reporting indicates a need for carbon capture because most climate scenarios include a period where global temperatures rise past 1.5 degrees and then fall back to that point by 2100. New technologies are projecting a price of $58.30 per metric ton of CO2.
- Similarly, Carbon Utilization has also been criticized for being a costly solution. However, the value-add end products produced from these technologies allow upcycled carbon emissions to enter the market in various industries. Successful carbon utilization products experience the same market pressures as any other product and need to have a competitive advantage that makes them more economical and/or better performing than conventional products.
- Carbon Storage, while able to store CO2 permanently underground, receives backlash that there is no economic value to doing so without high carbon pricing/tax incentives. EOR technologies have been particularly targeted in these criticisms as fossil fuels are the end product of the procedure.