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Our Scientific Advisory Committee co-authored a scientific paper highlighting the myths and facts on Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU). The study was published in Joule (Cell Press) last year and is now open access.

This paper clarifies some of the myths related to CO2 utilisation and highlights some relevant facts about CCU technologies with a focus on synthetic fuels which refers to creating fuels from renewable energy, water, and carbon dioxide. These myths also exist at the level of public opinion and influence the general socio-political acceptance of CCU technologies.

🔵 Myth 1: We must decarbonise to achieve our climate goals

Everything at the surface of the Earth is made out of carbon, so the cause of climate change is not the carbon itself, it is the fact that human activities have injected massive amounts of fossil carbon into the atmosphere. The negative connotation that carbon and CO2 receive today needs to be reversed and important efforts should be carried out to “defossilise” rather than “decarbonise” our economy, and to find alternative carbon feedstock by creating a circular carbon economy based on the utilisation of CO2.

🔵 Myth 2: CCU just delays CO2 emissions and therefore – even if deployed at a large scale – will not help fight climate change

Many CCU technologies are already mature enough to be deployed and have the potential to reduce net CO2 emissions in gigatons equivalence CO2 emissions. Unlike other options, CCU technologies provide drop-in fuel solutions which can be introduced in existing markets without significant modifications of infrastructures. CCU technologies have the potential to provide solutions to hard-to-abate sectors and to generate revenues through the production of marketable products. Moreover, CCU can support energy sovereignty and reduce dependence on fossil-based fuel energy.

🔵 Myth 3: E-Molecules are and will remain too expensive until at least 2035

E-Molecules (e.g. e-methane, e-methanol) made from renewable energy will be crucial in the energy transition towards carbon neutrality, in particular for long-term energy storage, long-distance energy transport and for processes that are hard to electrify in industry or long-distance marine and aviation transportation. Many current CCU projects reveal that an economically positive business case allowing the production of materials or synthetic fuels that can compete with their fossil alternative is difficult today.

Incentives and/or taxes are required for most e-molecule production to bridge the gap with their fossil alternative. However, concepts like the social cost of carbon or even the mortality cost of carbon are gaining traction and show that if we take the damage of climate change fully into account, CCU will be cost-effective.

Lastly, the paper highlights that ideas like the “social cost of carbon” or even the mortality cost of carbon are gaining attention, and they reveal that if the total damage of climate change is considered, CCU will be cost-effective. The authors state that besides technically innovative and economically feasible solutions – environmental, political, and social parameters should always be included in future developments of CCU and the energy transition towards carbon neutrality in Europe.

Please read the full publication here.