CCUS & Refineries
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is crucial to the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries with high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, such as refining.
Increased concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere is leading to global warming. The world's leading scientists have stated that, unless the rise in average global temperature is kept below 2°C, devastating and irreversible climate change will occur.
To prevent this happening, in line with the Paris Agreement, the European Union has set a binding target to reduce at least 40% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, against 1990 levels. Under the European Green Deal, by 2050 it aims to become the first climate-neutral continent – an economy with net-zero GHG emissions.
Refineries in Europe and beyond require urgent action to help meet these goals. The sector contributes about 4% of global CO2 emissions associated with human activity, the third highest among stationary CO2 producers after power and cement.
Carbon capture technologies will enable refineries to make CO2 available for either storage (CCS) or use (CCU), integrating the sector into a circular economy. Without CCS, the cost of reaching the Paris Agreement targets will increase by about 40% according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
According to Concawe - European refining’s environmental science organisation - the sector’s total 2050 emissions would be reduced by 70% with the effective deployment of CCS (compared to 50% before CCS is included.)
Meeting the CCUS challenge
While recognised as an important mitigation option for the refining industry, CCUS faces barriers – such as cost, the complexity of capturing carbon from multiple sources, and accessing CO2 transport and storage infrastructure.
Management consultancy McKinsey has noted that, for many in the oil, gas and chemical industries, developing CCUS is a natural extension of core capabilities, such as operating pipelines, managing reservoirs and synthesising new materials. This means that delivering cost-effective and efficient CCUS presents a significant opportunity as well as a challenge.