Saturday 16 January 2010

Carbon Trading Markets. Capture vs Emissions Trading

The connection between carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and the carbon emissions trading market is growing, as carbon credits accrued from CCS plants will be traded at carbon exchanges, generating more revenue for CCS project developers, according to a new report from ABI Research.
ABI’s study, “Carbon Capture, Sequestration and Emissions Trading: The Outlook for Global Carbon Markets,” evaluates two leading market mechanisms — CCS and carbon emissions trading — for reducing carbon emissions.
ABI Research says CCS allows heavy industries responsible for the greatest amount of carbon emissions to use new technologies to capture the CO2 they generate and store it safely for long periods. The market research firm projects that $14.6 billion will be invested in 73 new CCS projects that will prevent 146 million tons of CO2 from 2009 to 2014.
A recent audit of the world’s CCS projects, conducted by Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, indicates that carbon capture and storage could lower CO2 emissions by about 19 percent.
In carbon emissions trading, governmental or regulatory bodies issue a limited number of allowances or offsets that allow companies to legally release carbon dioxide, but if the emissions exceed a company’s number of allowances, it must buy or trade for more, or face stiff penalties, says ABI.
The market researcher forecasts that the global carbon emissions trading market will reach $395 billion in 2014, more than three times the $118 billion in allowances traded in 2008
Atakan Ozbek, the study’s author, says in a press release that carbon emission credits need to reach the price of at least $40 per ton of CO2-equivalent for CCS projects to reach commercial status, together with effective policies and regulations and advances in both carbon capture and storage technologies.
A similar study shows that the financial impact of regulating coal-fired power plants that produce carbon dioxide emissions under a cap-and-trade system is much less than previously projected, and a CCS option could keep the price of carbon credits low. This report finds that for coal-fired plants the break-even price for the adoption of CCS technology is just $25 to $30 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions.


  1. Cap and Trade is not the best way to fund carbon capture or indeed to structure a global agreement to reduce emissions, and nothing less will do. The trillions of dollars of revenue involved result in endless fruitless negotiations about who pays it and who gets it.

    Among people polled there is strong support for the alternative scheme detailed in my blog at
    In a recent Times Online live debate 85% voted that "Fossil fuel companies should be obliged to sequester an increasing fraction of the carbon content of the products they sell to avoid dangerous climate change"

  2. Good comment Jem, your solution would take effect faster. However what is the state of play with CCS technology?
    We are pursuing renewables, and zero carbon homes now as our bit to averaqge down the CO2 output but as you say its a very slow method. I guess politics and vested interest always wins out over the 'right' solution. Copenhagen is a case in point.

  3. John,
    I don't think Copenhagen was the right solution. Even if everyone had signed up and offered national quotas that were small enough and soon enough to sort the problem the agreement would have collapsed later because it would not have been in the self interest of any sovereign nation to sustain it.

    No nation or group of nations can escape conforming to my plan unless they have no imports or exports of oil, coal or gas and that certainly keeps all the majors players on-board.

    You ask about the status of CCS technology. I am not involved in the design or operation of CCS but recent reports from the World Future Energy Summit say that “speakers pointed to the maturation of CCS and many successful pilot facilities around the world. And they set the expectation that the industry is now ready to see production facilities built in large numbers.”

    Carbon capture is not new technology we have been capturing carbon dioxide on an industrial scale from the partial oxidation of coal, oil and gas for many decades in the chemical industry. We have been reinjecting carbon dioxide down the well to enhance oil recovery for years. The IPCC say the same in their report on carbon capture.

    To be sure the capture and storage technology have not yet been put together and used on a large power generation plant. Process selection, cost estimates and performance will no doubt improve as we gain design, construction and operational experience, but that does not mean there is any likelihood of the technology not working. What is lacking is not the know-how but the economic incentive to apply it, except to demonstrate the technology.

    That is what my proposal is certain to provide if and as soon as it is adopted. The International Energy Agency (an intergovernmental organisation) say that stabilising the climate in 2050 would cost at least 70% more without carbon capture so we need to make it happen.