New Publication – Deployment of BECCS/U value chains – Technological pathways, policy options and business models

Jun 2020

It is becoming increasingly clear that substantial amounts of negative emissions – essentially, the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – will likely be required if global climate change is to be limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Among the different negative emissions options, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, is arguably one of the most commonly discussed in climate policy debates.

This report focuses on the potential and challenges associated with deploying BECCS systems and value chains in the near to medium term. It provides a brief overview of different technological options for capture, transport and storage of CO2, and offers insights into how BECCS business models could be set up. Furthermore the role of public policy in this setting is discussed, and how bioenergy with carbon capture and utilization (BECCU) could play a role in enabling BECCS deployment.

Some conclusions:

  • Bioethanol production facilities are a particularly low-hanging fruit because of the high concentrations of CO2 available for capture. Applications in pulp and paper mills also show promise thanks to substantial CO2 concentrations and availability of excess heat that can be used in the capture processes. In addition, there are BECCS pilot and demonstration projects under development in both power stations (using wood pellets) and in waste-to-energy facilities.
  • In terms of transportation and storage infrastructure of captured CO2, these will most likely be shared among CCS systems irrespective of whether the source of CO2 is fossil or biogenic.
  • Actual deployment of BECCS will require public policy interventions at several levels. There is a need for financing to de-risk and/or co-finance industrial investments in large-scale demonstration facilities. In addition, there needs to be a policy mechanism in place that rewards negative emissions.
  • Technological obstacles to near to medium-term deployment of BECCS systems are likely not prohibitive. However, the policy measures required to incentivize the demonstration, deployment and operation of BECCS value chains are currently largely absent.

Schematic diagram of carbon dioxide cycles in different bioenergy utilization routes