Good morning. My name is Jennifer Wilcox, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management in the U.S. Department of Energy.
I want to thank the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme – and our colleagues from the UK, Canada, and Indonesia – for leading this discussion and advancing the development of CCS Centres of Excellence.
I also want to thank my fellow speakers for their contributions – and thank all of you for joining us today.
As we meet today, we’re facing an urgent, but shrinking, window of opportunity to limit the harm from the climate crisis, with special urgency for the most vulnerable populations.
And as we look at technology approaches to address the climate crisis and achieve decarbonization, carbon capture and dedicated storage remains a proven approach to reducing point source emissions from power plants and some industrial facilities.
In the U.S., we’re committed to advancing CCS. And in the past five years, the Department of Energy invested $1.2 billion to develop CCS technologies.
As most of you are probably aware, for the last 20 years or so we’ve been focused on carbon capture technology investments in the power sector, particularly coal-fired power plants.
As we move forward, we want to expand our efforts to capturing carbon emissions from committed infrastructure expected to persist through mid-century, like natural gas-fired power plants – and industrial sectors, hydrogen, cement and steel production.
Once CO2 is captured, the question is – what do you do with it? Of course, it can be stored deep underground in geologic formations.
CO2 can also be converted to high value products like fuels and chemicals or even long-lived products like synthetic aggregate or concrete, for construction.
For CCS to achieve maximal impact, we need to take carbon capture out of its silo and leverage our efforts to achieve deep decarbonization toward the development of low-carbon supply chains where carbon is stored in products like concrete, chemicals, and fuels in addition to advancing low-carbon supply chains for products like cement and steel.
That has been an important focus of our RDD&D efforts at DOE, and ultimately we want to build on our successes and develop more novel approaches to recycle carbon emissions.
Bur it’s not just our work that’s making a difference. The work of countries represented by my colleagues here today – the UK, Canada, and Indonesia – is also advancing CCS.
And I want to specifically note that we’re seeing exciting new movement on CCS in Asia with the launch of the Asia CCUS Network to develop and deploy those technologies in that region.
While the movement toward CCS deployment is encouraging, there are still challenges – both in terms of addressing the technical, financial, and policy challenges to that deployment, and in the sheer scope of the decarbonization that will be required to meet our climate targets.
I think it’s important to note that, If this were a decade or more ago, we could have perhaps focused on just deploying CCS on committed emissions infrastructures.
But in their recent report, the IPCC noted that it’s not enough to simply cut emissions – we have to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
And recent studies from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to the International Energy Agency reported that by 2050, we will have to remove on the order of gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year through carbon dioxide removal methods like direct air capture to achieve our net-zero carbon emissions goals.
Nearly all climate models that show pathways to net-zero indicate the need for a near-term focus on the deployment of carbon dioxide removal from the accumulated pool of CO2 in the atmosphere - termed CDR - in addition to point source capture coupled to dedicated storage. In fact, IPCC modeling shows that only emissions scenarios including CDR achieve net-zero in 2050.
Getting to Gigatonnes of CO2 removal by mid-century will require us to advance the field at an unprecedented pace. With the recently launched Orca project, we’re removing on the order of thousands of tonnes of CO2 per year. Over the next decade we will have to increase this a thousand fold up to millions of tonnes of CO2 removal from the atmosphere, to be on track.
We should also not view CDR as a method for offsetting emissions that we can avoid with existing technologies – such as decarbonizing fossil fuels – or point-source capture on industrial facilities such as cement and steel. Rather, CDR should be viewed as a tool that counterbalances only the truly hard to avoid emissions – such as those from the agriculture or aviation sectors.
This is a challenge, but we have a unique opportunity – and a compelling responsibility – to advance carbon dioxide removal approaches to achieve decarbonization and help tackle the climate crisis.
And that’s why we’re launching the new Mission with a focus on CDR and advance these approaches along a path to achieve a net reduction on the order of tens of millions of metric tons of CO2 per year globally by 2030.
So, we have a unique opportunity – and a compelling responsibility – to advance these technology approaches to achieve decarbonization and help tackle the climate crisis.
But getting there requires collaboration across government, industry, and academia – and across international borders, especially with developing countries and others who need our assistance to decarbonize their industries.
And establishing CCS Centres of Excellence is an exciting approach to help achieve that goal.
So, my message to you today is that the U.S. and the Department of Energy welcome the opportunity to work with our partners around the world to develop and deploy technology solutions like CCS and CDR to meet that challenge.