CCUS in power

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Friday, 25 January 2019

Not on track

With only two large-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) power projects in operation at the end of 2017, with a combined capture capacity of 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, CCUS in power remains well off track to reach the SDS target of 350 million tonnes per year by 2030.

Large-scale CO2 capture projects in power generation

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage remains far off track from the 2030 goal.

	SDS Targets	Existing capacity	Current pipeline
2000		0	
2001		0	
2002		0	
2003		0	
2004		0	
2005		0	
2006		0	
2007		0	
2008		0	
2009		0	
2010		0	
2011		0	
2012		0	
2013		0	
2014		1	
2015		1	
2016		1	
2017		2.4	
2018		2.4	0
2019		2.4	0
2020		2.4	0
2021		2.4	0
2022		2.4	0
2023		2.4	0
2024		2.4	3
2025		2.4	11
2030	350		
2040	1488		
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At the beginning of 2017, capture operations at the Petra Nova project in Texas began operation on schedule and on budget. The retrofit project is the largest post-combustion carbon capture system installed on a coal-fired power plant. It can capture up to 1.4 MtCO2 annually for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which uses injected CO2 to extract oil that is otherwise not recoverable.

Petra Nova and the Boundary Dam CCUS project in Saskatchewan, Canada, which started operation in 2014, are providing critical experience to support future cost reductions. The capital and operating costs of the next generation of plants are expected to be as much as 25% to 30% lower than the costs of these first-of-a-kind facilities.

But the news from Petra Nova was overshadowed by the suspension of planned CCUS operations at the Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi. Plans for an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology, which would allow high-moisture lignite to be used highly efficiently with partial CO2 capture, were shelved in 2017 after seven years and several billion dollars of investment. The plant is now using natural gas as fuel.

The rapid scale-up of a novel IGCC technology, rather than the CO2 capture system, was the source of Kemper’s difficulties, but the problems at this project have nevertheless been viewed by some as a major setback for CCUS in power generation.

Seven CCUS power generation projects are in early development: four in China, two in Korea and one in the United Kingdom.

CCUS projects in the power sector

Only two large-scale CCUS projects were operational in 2017.

Based on Global CCS Institute project database,, accessed 17 May 2018.

Tracking progress

The two large-scale power CCUS projects operational today and the seven projects in early development have a potential capture capacity of around 13 Mtpa. The capture and storage rate and the number of projects receiving final investment decisions would hence need to increase by an order of magnitude to meet the 2030 SDS target of 350 Mtpa CO2 captured from power generation.

CCUS is particularly important as a retrofit option for existing plants and plants under construction, given the young age of the coal fleet and the ongoing construction of unabated coal units, particularly in Asia. Retrofitting these plants with CCUS could solve economic and emissions problems, by allowing plants to be operated while recovering their investments and reducing their carbon footprints.

The anticipated “next-of-a-kind” cost reductions from the two large-scale operating CCUS power projects, both retrofits, are a promising sign in that regard. Bioenergy in combination with CCUS (BECCS), in which biomass is either co-fired with gas or coal or treated in dedicated plants, can generate negative emissions and thereby offset emissions in other sectors.

A constant flow of projects through development to operation is crucial to maintain and increase CCUS capacity globally. Meeting the ambitious SDS targets will require facilitating the financing of CCUS projects, reducing the cost of CCUS and continuing to improve the technology.


Several technology innovations have been proposed to reduce the costs of CCUS and are now being tested at pilot scale.

NET Power’s 50 MW Clean Energy plant in Texas is one prominent example. This first-of-a-kind natural gas-fired power plant employs Allam cycle technology, which aims to use CO2 as a working fluid in an oxy-fuel, supercritical CO2 power cycle. The NET Power pilot project will be commissioned in 2018. It has the potential to make zero-emission natural gas-fired power generation competitive with existing power generation technologies.

Fuel Cell Energy in Connecticut aims to capture CO2 using a system of molten carbonate fuel cells. The system capturing CO2 from the flue gas stream of a host plant would also generate electricity, thus circumventing the “parasitic load” cost associated with traditional carbon capture on power plants.