Carbon Capture & Storage – Pivotal Role for Energy Companies

By Greg Pardy and Global Energy Research Team, RBC Capital Markets, LLC
Published October 29, 2021 | 3 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the urgency and resolve amongst policy makers and others globally to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and especially carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technology, which could play a pivotal role for energy companies and other industrial emitters, should grab headlines at the upcoming COP26 Summit in Glasgow, RBCCM’s Global Energy Team argued in a report on what it will take for carbon capture to blossom in the next decade.

ESG Stratify: Separating the signal from the noise

Disclosures and Disclaimers

Manifold Benefits

CCS has been used in different forms for decades (including gas processing) and can be applied within reasonable timeframes (5-7 years), with CO2 permanently stored deep underground in geological formations. However, adoption has been extremely limited. There are 26 CCS/CCUS projects worldwide capturing 36.6 mega tonnes of CO2 per annum (Mtpa)—or just 0.1% of global CO2 emissions of 38,000 megatonnes in 2019. The limited adoption of CCS likely reflects inadequate penalties (low carbon prices) and incentives (low offset credits), an unsuccessful carrot-stick dynamic which has resulted in large emitters electing to vent CO2 emissions directly into the atmosphere.


The US Leads the League Tables

Anchored by its 45Q incentive tax credit structure and enhanced oil recovery schemes, the United States leads the way in operational CCS projects. Canada, Norway, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE trail as distant seconds in terms of numbers. However, they possess some high-profile projects. From a standing start, CCS is also emerging at a rapid clip in the United Kingdom.


Private-Public Partnerships are Critical

In a world of shrinking CO2 emissions over time, large-scale capital investments in CCS will require long-term visibility on carbon prices (tax levies on GHG emissions), transferability of offset credits and durability of government policies. Securing approvals for underground storage (pore space) is also critical. The Private-Public partnership framework is key for carbon capture projects to develop further.


Early Days on Costs & Returns

Finally, capture costs are the biggest component in the CCS equation and tend to fall as CO2 concentration rises. The determination of rates of return on CCS investments—even with carbon price determination—remains opaque, partly due to the early stage of development and scale. More visibility is required.

Greg Pardy and Global Energy Research Team authored RBC ESG Stratify: Carbon Capture & Storage – Dare to Dream Big published October 24, 2021. For more information about the full report, please contact your RBC representative.

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Greg Pardy and Global Energy Research Team

Greg Pardy and Global Energy Research Team
Head, Global Energy Research, RBC Capital Markets
RBC Capital Markets, LLC

CCSCO2Carbon CaptureCarbon Capture and StorageClimate CrisisEnergyEnergy TransitionGreenhouse Gas