According to a NITI Aayog’s report on the policy framework of the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), CCUS has a critical role to play for the country to halve CO2 emissions by 2050. CCUS is a technology for decarbonising carbon dioxide (CO2) from high polluting sectors.

 

What is ‘Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage’?

  • About CCUS — It is the process of capturing CO2 emissions and either using them to make things such as building materials (utilisation) or permanently storing them thousands of feet below the surface (storage).
  • Need — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Global Warming of 1.5 °C report highlights that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is not possible without ambitious mitigation actions like CCUS.
  • Significance of CCUS —
    • Capturing CO2 helps reduce carbon emission intensity of industrial operations, while retaining the carbon neutrality (CO2 emissions = CO2 capture) of the production processes.
    • It is a critical component of meeting the global net-zero ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
  • Advantages of CCUS —
    • Safe transportation — CO2 is an inert gas that is not flammable. Smaller amounts of compressed CO2 can be transported on trucks, while larger amounts are often transported by pipes.
    • Safe storage — The CO2 is stored within rock formations over half a mile underground in depleted oil or gas fields or saline formations.
    • Safe reuse — Captured carbon can be put to many uses, from the manufacture of industrial materials (concrete, chemicals, biofuels, plastic and foam) to using CO2 for oil extraction or waste clean-up in alkaline industries.
  • Disadvantages of CCUS —
    • High cost of mechanisms used to implement CCUS — For example, carbon capture necessitates the creation of compounds capable of binding to CO2 in exhaust gas or the atmosphere, which is costly.
    • Less demand for recycled CO2 — Converting CO2 for commercial use would provide economic value to this greenhouse gas. However, demand for CO2 is less than the vast amount of CO2 that must be removed from the atmosphere.

 

What is India doing?

  • Department of Science and Technology (DST) aims to nurture the area of Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage through emphasis on research and development and capacity building of both human resource as well as infrastructure.
  • Mission Innovation Challenge on CCUS (IC3) — DST-Department of Biotechnology (DBT) had jointly launched the mission in 2018, to enable near-zero CO2 emissions from power plants and carbon-intensive industries.
  • Accelerating CCS Technologies (ACT) — This initiative aims to facilitate R&D and innovation that can lead to development of safe and cost-effective CO2 capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies. India has joined forces with France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the UK, and the US, etc., to achieve these objectives.

 

Highlights of the NITI Aayog Report

  • Importance of CCUS for India —
    • India’s per capita CO2 emissions were about 1.9 tonnes per annum, which was less than 40% of the global average and about one-fourth of that of China.
    • Industries such as steel, cement, oil, gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and fertilisers, have a critical role to play for the country to halve CO2 emissions by 2050.
    • Therefore, a sustainable solution for the decarbonisation of sectors that contribute to 70% of emission is needed.
    • CCUS has an important and critical role to play in it, especially for India to accomplish net-zero by 2070.
  • Impact on economy —
    • The CCUS technology would help in promoting the low carbon-hydrogen economy and in removal of the CO2 stock from the atmosphere.
    • CCUS could enable the production of clean products while utilising rich endowments of coal, reducing imports and thus leading to a self-reliant India economy.
    • There will be an impact on the economy if value-added products such as green methanol, green ammonia can be produced from this captured CO2.
    • CCUS also has an important role to play in enabling sunrise sectors such as coal gasification and the nascent hydrogen economy in India.
  • Way forward —
    • The key challenge would be to reduce the cost of the mechanisms to implement the technology.
    • To address this challenge, the focus should be on R&D, particularly on cutting edge technologies.
    • The key to a successful CCUS implementation in India was to enact a policy framework that supported the creation of sustainable and viable markets for CCUS projects. The policy should —
      • Establish early-stage financing and funding mechanisms for CCUS projects.
      • Promote the private sector through sufficient incentives.
      • Be carbon credits or incentives based, to promote the CCUS sector in India through tax and cash credits.
      • Over time (probably beyond 2050), the policy should transition to carbon taxes, to enable reaching India’s net zero goals by 2070.