Rather like future fuels such as algae, Carbon Capture (Use and Storage) has been seen both as a potential solution to the problem of climate change and as yet another source of hot air and greenwash.
The reality is that despite decades of promises, there are no examples of successful implementations of CCUS that are of a large enough scale to make any conceivable difference to carbon emissions.
The oil industry has “donated” $1 billion for research into scaling up the multiple pilot projects that have been attempted. But even some of the proponents of CCUS (such as myself) are beginning to wonder if this is just a gesture.
The story goes that, if CCUS can be developed at scale, it will allow fuels such as oil and gas and even coal to continue to be used without damaging the environment. But it is beginning to sound like the oil and gas companies are just kicking the can down the road.
The reality is that CCUS faces many challenges, the most critical of which is, Who will pay? Shell’s CCS venture at Peterhead in Scotland was scuppered when the Tory government that had supported it pulled out at the last minute. But the pilot schemes have also met with public opposition, based on a lack of knowledge of what will happen to the sequestered emissions in the future.
A suspicion of greenwash and multiple challenges
It’s still difficult to tell whether CCUS has a future, or whether it will be another example of the ball being kicked down the road to justify continued investment in fossil fuels.