The world needs CCS as part of its efforts to decarbonise the global energy system. CCS is the process of capturing CO2 from large industrial sources and permanently storing it deep underground. It is estimated that CCS could remove up to 90% of CO2 emissions from power generation.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report demonstrated the importance of CCS. The report notes that without widespread implementation of CCS and other technologies such as biomass, the world is unlikely to reach its desired 2 °C scenario. It also states that without CCS the cost of achieving a 2 °C scenario will be around 138% higher.
Shell’s first demonstration project, called Quest, is expected to start in 2015 in Canada. Over time, wider take-up of CCS is likely to drive down costs. However, increased collaboration is needed now between the energy industry, government and society to ensure that CCS is commercially deployable by 2030 if we are to make a difference to global emissions reduction. Shell plans to freely share knowledge and data derived from the Quest CCS project. (See box, below).
Carbon capture and storage
The International Energy Agency has estimated that, if widely deployed, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could reduce global CO2 emissions by around 15% by 2050. CCS demonstration projects are needed to show how existing technologies can work together at industrial scale.
Shell’s CCS projects are being developed to test the use of CCS in different settings, with input from local communities and environmental groups. We will be sharing our findings to show the benefits of CCS, to improve technical understanding and to reduce the cost of implementing CCS in the long term.
During 2014, we made significant progress at some of our CCS projects:
Preparations continue toward taking our final investment decision for the Peterhead CCS project in the UK. Since late 2013, Shell has been in public consultation with key parties. This included local public exhibitions and tours of the Peterhead power station. Other informal engagement with people from the surrounding area is ongoing.
Quest at the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada will be the first use of CCS on an industrial scale in an oil sands operation. When the project starts operating in 2015, emissions will be captured from the site’s Scotford Upgrader. Quest is expected to capture more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
In our engagement with the local community, concerns have been raised relating to the security of the stored CO2 and whether the project could impact water quality. We have a monitoring programme that is agreed with the government, to measure and monitor elements that could potentially impact communities or the environment. We share the baseline results with the community and will continue to share our results once Quest starts operating.
Shell Cansolv CCS technology
CCS technology developed by Shell Cansolv is now in use at the Boundary Dam power station in Saskatchewan, Canada. Boundary Dam is SaskPower’s largest coal-fired power station and a significant source of power for the region. This is the first time CCS has been used on a commercial scale in a coal-fired power station, using post-combustion technology. CO2 is captured after the coal has been burnt for energy generation.
CCS has been installed in one unit of the plant and will be able to capture around 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Most of the CO2 will be used for enhanced oil recovery to improve efficiency in nearby oil fields and then permanently stored underground. Sulphur dioxide emissions will also be captured and processed into sulphuric acid for industrial use.