Many Indian companies have been exploring CCS and CCU. CCS is about capturing carbon from the source and sequestering it into oceans or rocks and CCU entails utilising captured carbon as a raw material
A net zero world calls for a heavy reduction in fossil fuel use, bare use of unabated fossil fuels, and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), according to the latest UN climate report.
CCS found its place in the Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) after hard lobbying led by Saudi Arabia.
Carbon Capture Utilisation Storage (CCUS) in particular has gained traction even at the G20 Energy Transition Working Group. A report on ‘Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)- Technology Gaps and International Collaboration’ was sponsored under India’s G20 Presidency was launched during the ETWG meet.
The Union Budget 2023-23, too, talked about carbon. Shailendra Singh Rao, Founder, Creduce, says, “Overall, the Union Budget 2023 provided a major boost to the carbon industry. The Budget proposed setting up of a National Research Centre for Carbon to provide research and development support to the carbon industry.” He adds, “A number of incentives for businesses in the carbon industry include the provision of tax credits for any investments made in CCUS projects.”
The CCUS industry is projected to be $90 billion globally in the next decade and even more, according to Business Case for Carbon Capture (2019) by Boston Consulting Group article.
To stay ahead of the curve, many companies have been exploring CCU and CCS. Under CCU carbon is captured and utilised as a raw material whereas under CCS the captured carbon from the source is sequestered into depths of oceans or rocks. Mahendra Singhi, Managing Director and CEO, Dalmia Cement, says, “It is the only technological lever that can make the cement industry carbon neutral without offsets.” Dalmia Cement in partnership with the Asian Development Bank has also prepared a pre-feasibility of CCU in one of its cement plant. Dalmia Cement has partnered with Carbon Clean Solutions Limited UK to build the cement industry’s largest CCU plant in Tamil Nadu. It is projected to capture 500,000 tonnes per year.
Tata Steel is India’s first steel company to establish a CCU. The company focuses on circular carbon economy and is deriving C02 directly from the blast furnace gas produced at the site.
At the G20 Energy Transitions Working Group, NTPC conducted a session on ‘Carbon Capture Utilisation’. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is focussing on capturing C02 from waste fuel gases and transform it into hydrocarbon (methanol). This will be a double win as it will lead to generation of clean fuel and carbon utilisation. NTPC is also utilising residue from agriculture for power generations.
National Aluminium Company Limited’s (NALCO) CCU is based on biotechnology. It grows algae in a pond and the CO2 captured from the thermal power plant will be sequestered into the pond.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), India’s largest natural oil and gas company, has formed a partnership with Norway’s Equinor for coming up a with a large scale CCS plant. ONGC has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Shell for studies pertaining to CCUS.
However, owing to its expensive nature and technological challenges, it is not a readily available option. As of now India is focussing on fostering partnerships to find a suitable and economical technology. The India government is also partnering with the US Government to find technologies related to clean coal, supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles and CCUS, according to the Third Biennial Update Report (BUR 3) submitted by India under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A. K. Saxena, Senior Fellow and Senior Director, Electricity and Fuels Division, The Energy Research Institute (TERI), adds, “Technology advancement and higher level of deployment are expected to lead to reduction in costs.”
India has also formulated the Draft 2030 Roadmap for CCUS in oil and gas sector, which recommends setting up of a national fund through contribution of both public and private sector for “funding /aiding the development of CCUS/CCS”. It talks about direct capital grants, operational subsidies, carbon pricing mechanisms, regulatory requirements, research and development, etc. The draft also suggests establishment of an economically viable option of CCUS hubs so that many industries can store and transport CO2. Consideration of safety measures and risk reduction strategies related to transportation, storage and pipelines also need to be ensured, it mentions further.
The 2030 CCUS roadmap also acknowledges that the development of this sector in the world is at a nascent stage and “India has a once in generation opportunity to emerge as a global CCUS innovation hub”.
Singhi, too, says, “Ultimately, a commercial business case has to evolve for unlocking the investments and circularity of CO2 in the industry. This is only possible when initial demonstrations are funded from public resources to build new know-how and local technology infrastructure.” He adds, “Captured CO2 can be repurposed into fertilisers, soda ash and methanol technologically as well as economically with a $50-60/ton of CO2 floor price of carbon credits.”