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Cultivating Change Through Carbon Storage: Niti Ayog

NITI Ayog has launched its Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) mechanism document in India

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Climate change is not a new issue, in fact, it has been discussed in detail already. The average temperature of the Earth is rising due to a rise in greenhouse gases, of which Carbon Dioxide is the largest contributor. Recognising this, NITI (National Institute to Transform India) Ayog has launched its Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) mechanism document in India.

What is the report about?

It is a recommendary document that was made with inputs from stakeholders of the energy and power sector. The idea is to develop and implement a practicable framework to accelerate the research being done in this field of CCUS. The government came up with a draft policy titled ‘2020 Roadmap for CCUS for upstream exploration and production (E&P) companies in public domain. The agenda is to invite suggestions from all the stakeholders in this field.

Why is this policy so important?

Last year at the Conference of Party (CoP) 26, prime minister Narendra Modi made a pledge. Some of these include reducing 1 Bn ton carbon emissions by 2030, achieving net zero by 2030, reaching non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500GW by 2030, and reducing carbon intensity by over 45 per cent by 2030. In fact, the CCUS report states the same, “Carbon capture utilisation and storage is an essential imperative for India to reach its decabonisation goals.”

                                                Source: NITI Ayog

As we can see in the table above, India has a massive capacity to store Carbon. Given this fact, the report has come at an opportune time.  Some of the key recommendations include:

· CCUS in India should be credit based via tax and cash credit.

· Follow and hub and cluster business model, that is, every stakeholder from emitters to aggregators have a defined role.

· Low-carbon products must be supported by the Indian government via Public Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.

· There should be an environment and social justice policy around CCUS.

· Also a proposal on accounting and regulatory framework, that is, incentivise carbon capture in all sectors which must be above a minimum baseline.

· Adopt Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) that also looks at Scope 2 and 3 emissions

· Mitigate risks by limiting liability and ownership of CO2 across the value chain by appropriate monitoring.

Can we really capture carbon?

The short answer is yes. The carbon dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere has to be captured first. We use a multitude of technologies for this. the report describes some of these methods:

· Chemical solvent-based CO2 capture: which is made by dissolving Mono Ethanol Amine (MEA) in CO2. When heated it will release the CO2.

· Physical solvent-based capture: We can use Propylene Carbonate and the like where we can capture CO2 vis physical reaction.

· Adsorption method: This means capturing on the surface by a weak force.

· Cryogenic technology: This includes capturing CO2 in extremely cold temperatures, for example, dry ice

This gas is usually collected and then diverted via pipes to make an end product. This means one can monetise the carbon captured. Additionally, the excess Co2 is stored. This is not stored in a barrel or container. They try to send it to geological structures where it is stored for 50 to 200 years. For example, it can be stored underground. This is the basic idea of CCUS.

This is important across sectors that acts as point sources for Co2. This includes steel which is based on fossil fuels and Co2. Other important sources include the Hydrogen production industry, cement industry, oil and gas refineries, and coal gasification plants. They are also the key contributors of greenhouse gases in India and even globally. The CCUS strategy is very useful for these industries. The captured carbon can then be used to manufacture green urea, carbonated drinks, building materials like concrete and aggregates, conversion to ethanol and methanol, manufacturing polymers, and in enhanced oil recovery techniques. However, one has to tread with caution, given that there are issues like technology transfer from developed countries, or even Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues can come up.