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Industry support for large scale CCS gains momentum in Houston

Published by , Senior Editor
Tanks and Terminals,

Three additional companies have announced their support for exploring the implementation of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in and around the Houston industrial area.

Air Liquide, BASF and Shell are joining Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66 and Valero to collectively evaluate and advance emissions reduction efforts in and around the Houston industrial area. Today’s announcement increases the momentum for CCS and aligns with efforts to reduce emissions around the world.

The 14 companies are evaluating how to use safe, proven CCS technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy and products for modern life, including power generation and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels and packaging. In December 2021, the companies held a series of workshops at the University of Houston to discuss collaboration and activation of this important, large-scale emissions-reduction effort.

Together, these companies and others in the region could capture and safely store up to 50 million tpy of CO2 by 2030 and about 100 million tpy by 2040, helping to significantly reduce emissions in the Houston region.

These efforts have already gained broad support in the Houston region, including from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Harris County Commissioners’ Court, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Center for Houston’s Future.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” said Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy and former assistant secretary in the US Department of Energy. “As the energy capital of the world, Houston has the expertise and leadership — including industry, academia and policymakers — to realise a low carbon, reliable and affordable energy future. I look forward to working alongside these 14 companies to make Houston the global leader in CCS.”

Wide-scale, affordable deployment of CCS in the Houston area will require the support of industry, communities and government. If appropriate policies and regulations are put in place, CCS could help the US and Houston reach net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting existing jobs that are important to Houston’s economy. CCS could also promote long-term economic growth in Southeast Texas and beyond.

CCS is the process of capturing CO2 from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. CO2 from the Houston industrial area could be stored in nearby on- and offshore storage sites. An analysis of US Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the US Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion t of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 130 years of industrial and power generation emissions in the US, based on 2018 data.

CCS is one of the few proven technologies that could enable some industry sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as manufacturing and heavy industry, to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The International Energy Agency projects that CCS could mitigate up to 15% of global emissions by 2040, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates global decarbonisation efforts could be twice as costly without the technology.

Discussions continue with other companies that have industrial operations in the Houston region, potentially increasing the projected total CO2 that can be captured and safely stored.

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