Using carbon capture in the right place—the potential role of CCS in energy production


As countries around the world explore ways to reduce climate risks and set net-zero emission pathways for mid-century, there is a growing realization that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be essential to decarbonize or compensate sectors such as agriculture, cement, iron and steel, and chemicals, as well as to support low-carbon fossil-fuel-based energy production. Yet despite the emphasis on the latter in discussions of net-zero pathways, CCS emerges primarily as a solution for (i) reducing industrial emissions and for (ii) net-carbon removal from the atmosphere, as is apparent in the projections made in this report. This chapter provides a short analysis of CCS in general before discussing its limits for supporting the use of fossil fuels in a net-zero economy.


  • Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and, to a lesser extent, utilization (CCU) will play a crucial role in reaching net-zero emissions along any pathway.
  • However, targeting net-zero instead of simple GHG reductions changes where capture will be used, as any carbon leakage has to be compensated by negative emissions somewhere else; this increases the total cost of capture and favours non-emitting approaches over CCS and, even more, CCU.
  • Net-zero coal- and gas-fired power production will likely be too costly to be viable.
  • The use of bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCS), which couples photosynthesis carbon capture with CCS-equipped energy heat and/or power production for net-negative emissions will likely play an important role in ensuring total net-zero balance on a regional scale.