Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing us collectively. It will require new approaches, such as CO2 capture, new policies and practical action, both in the energy and industrial sectors and elsewhere. Global economies and energy generation must be profoundly reformed to mitigate climate change and keep the average global temperature rise to below 2°C. This is even more true if the target is well below 2°C.
The climate won’t wait
The need for large deployment of CCUS in industry is a major challenge for the fight against climate change. CCUS provides significant emissions reduction potential in industrial activities for which there are very few technical alternatives (steel-making, cement manufacturing, refineries, pulp mills, waste incineration).
CCUS technology will be critical for meeting that global warming goal and achieving carbon neutrality during the second half of the century. Given its far-reaching potential, and the magnitude of its ripple effects system-wide, CCUS may soon be considered a fully-fledged industry in its own right.
Developing industrial CCUS through collaboration
For the moment, only a few large-scale CCUS facilities for CO2-emitting industries have been built. Current industries taking advantage of CCUS operations include:
- hydrogen-production (refining applications);
- plastics; and
For example, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has stored CO2, collected from Emirates Steel Industries (ESI), by injecting it into its reservoirs at the Rumaitha and Bab, UAE, oilfields to bolster oil recovery.
The Decatur project is another example. This facility stores approximately 1 metric tonne per annum (MTPA) of CO2 in a dedicated geological formation on a large scale. It is operated by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and administered by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.
The Norwegian full-scale demonstration project represents the next major step towards the development of CCS for industry. Statoil, Shell, and Total have entered into a CO2 storage partnership on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
The project is part of the Norwegian authorities’ efforts to develop full-scale carbon capture and storage in the country.
The storage site will be the first in the world to receive CO2 from industry in several countries. This reproducible commercial CCUS model is a result of co-construction by the private and public sectors — industrial operators, energy companies, politicians and stakeholders.
These projects show the merit of:
- a strong and sustained commitment from the emitting industries;
- the oil and gas sector, with its CO2 geological storage expertise; and
- governments to develop the CO2 mitigation industry.
Bolstering R&D to tackle CCUS challenges
Total has been actively involved in CCUS R&D for many years. Today, we are stepping up our efforts to treat our own emissions while we are also developing solutions that can be applied in other sectors, such as power generation, cement manufacturing and steel-making.
Accordingly, our R&D budget for CCUS is expected to eventually account for 10% of our overall R&D budget, excluding R&D specialties. We will be positioned as an integrator of the full CCUS value chain through:
- developing internal competencies;
- working in collaboration; and
- boosting innovative technologies and start-ups.
CCUS technologies may be site-specific with plant integration and therefore there are still technology challenges related to the CCUS implementation in CO2 emitting industries, including:
- capture costs;
- environmental impacts;
- energy efficiency;
- additional downtime;
- scale-up for specific technologies; and
- captured CO2 specifications for CO2 infrastructure and markets.
CO2 geological storage development
For an industrial operator, the decision to install CO2 capture processes at an industrial site can lead to additional manufacturing costs. The decision is based on future developments in carbon prices, technology costs, and last but not least, long term CO2 outlets.
CO2 transport networks and CO2 storage capacities have to be advanced and secured. The CO2 infrastructure will generally consist of:
- capture from sources, individually or in clusters;
- transport to a collection hub; and
- common transport to a common geological storage reservoir.
To estimate carbon storage capacity and control containment, our research is focused on understanding failure criteria, identifying heterogeneities and uncertainties in mechanical properties, estimating in situ stress conditions prior to storing carbon, and forecasting its evolution over the long term. Total is developing academic partnerships to foster fundamental research in this field.
CO2 capture technology development
Total’s R&D activities cover work at all technology readiness levels through several consortiums around the world to accelerate and de-risk development in CO2 capture technologies. We have joined the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Norway, one of the world’s largest sites developing carbon capture processes, to prepare for the commercialisation of new technologies by reducing costs and environmental impact (Fig. 1). Shared knowledge and experience from the power sector’s development and implementation of CO2 capture technologies can be transferred to a range of industries.
CCUS value chain integration
Process intensification and CCUS chain integration will help improve the overall efficiency of the CCUS value chain. For example, in process intensification, indirect pathways to the utilisation of CO2 from flue gas are being developed as a single process that does not require preliminary CO2 separation and purification. Retrofitting the process in existing industrial plants is an efficient way to use process energy and low-temperature waste heat.
Total also works with numerous stakeholders to develop technical, economic and environmental performance assessment tools for the whole CCUS value chain.
CCUS’ positive contribution to climate change mitigation will be established through a fair evaluation of its potential to reduce CO2 emissions cost effectively and compared to other options. It will also be established by demonstrating the benefits of jointly optimising CCUS and other carbon mitigation techniques in specific geographical and industry contexts, taking a systemic approach.
Total is ready to contribute to tackling the challenges identified in private-public partnerships. We have less than two decades to build CCUS facility. This includes, and indeed begins with, CO2 emitting industry.