Moving from a framework focused on GHG reductions to net-zero changes the strategic interest of the CCS solutions applied to various economic sectors since it will become necessary to address the total life-cycle emissions, or at least cradle to production emissions rather than only process emissions.
Most of the commercial CCS and CCU operations today contribute to reducing GHG emissions from industrial processes, many of which are difficult or impossible to transform in order to avoid GHG emissions. In this case, three pathways are possible:
- To find a replacement product with a lower footprint or eliminate the need for the product altogether;
- To develop a zero-emission production process;
- To use CCUS to capture source-point GHGs.
In the latter case, GHG removal typically focuses on a specific step of the production process and does not capture 100% of the emitted GHG, even at the production site. Therefore, a fully net-zero production needs to be paired with negative-emissions projects in order compensate for any fugitive or remnant emissions. At present, although numerous negative-emissions enterprises (mainly based on reforestation) exist, no commercial industrial facility delivers a truly integrated net zero process. On the contrary, as most of these facilities repurpose their captured CO2 for enhanced oil extraction, their net climate benefit remains debatable. Therefore, detailed life-cycle planning and analysis remains to be conducted in order to implement realistic and convincing pathways to net-zero for these industries.
Nevertheless, building on the modelling presented in this Outlook, it is possible to propose that such an integrated approach toward net-zero, which raises the cost of GHG management, will be targeting unavoidable industrial processes rather than serving to support the partial decarbonization of sectors that can be transformed otherwise.