Why should developing countries prepare for CCS now?

These aforementioned concerns and the challenges posed by CCS are prompting a ‘wait and see’ approach in some developing countries. Such an approach was a key issue identified by the CEM Working Group on CCS Funding Mechanisms for Developing Countries. The Working Group identified the importance of acting now. If countries identify that CCS is a relevant technology for their low-emission strategies, then it is important for countries to start undertaking the enabling, pre-investment, and demonstration activities now in order to be in a position to benefit from emission reductions from CCS in the coming decades. Many of these enabling and pre-investment activities will need to address country-specific requirements.

Enabling and pre-investment activities that need to be undertaken before implementing a CCS project include, but are not limited to:

  • developing geologic storage assessment;
  • developing legal and regulatory frameworks;
  • understanding the technology and project development framework through pre-feasibility and feasibility studies;
  • understanding funding and commercial issues; and
  • good practices for public engagement.

Some of these activities can take a number of years to develop. For instance, storage characterisation from the basin level down to the site-specific level can take 3–6 years or longer, depending on how much information is already available. Developing appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks for implementing CCS can also take considerable time, depending on the individual circumstances of each country or region.

The storage and regulatory aspects not only take time to develop, but are not transferable from country to country. The fact that these aspects are not transferable is an arguement against taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Taking a more active approach is particularly relevant for developing countries which have an ongoing interest or reliance on fossil fuel from the perspective of: “securing revenues from fossil fuel production; consuming fossil fuels to promote economic growth; promoting energy security; promoting regional cohesion; and facilitating foreign-policy objectives, such as earnings from CCS technology exports” (Meadowcroft and Langhelle 2009).

Some countries have undertaken dedicated CCS scoping studies to investigate their CCS potential. These studies generally consider key aspects such as the country’s emissions profile (whether there is a high degree of emissions from fossil fuel based power generation and/or industrial processes which is suited to CCS), its storage potential, and the feasibility of transporting CO2 to likely storage sites.