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Guest Viewpoints

Achieving Net Zero 2050: The Role of CCUS – Is There a Case for Greece?

May 20, 2022
By Konstantine Drougos

The Oasis Carbon Management Group (Oasis CMG) brings carbon dioxide (Co2) management technologies to commercial deployment and develops strategies that will stimulate investment necessary for promoting and achieving the ‘Green transition’. Oasis CMG has experience in identifying incentives and barriers that can accelerate or prevent commercial projects, develop practices and actions for engaging local communities and performing job creation and skills development studies and pathways.

Decarbonization has been taking place in Greece for some years if one takes into account the dramatic reduction of lignite output – from 63 percent in 2004 to 18 percent in 2019 – and the proportionate reduction in emissions from lignite burning.

In 2017, Oasis CMG has proposed to the Energy Ministry to do a study regarding the operation of Public Power Corporation’s efficient lignite-powered units, such as Ptolemaida 5, beyond the termination deadline of 2028 that the National Plan for Energy and the Climate provides for by using CCUS. The political risks of importing the majority of the country’s Energy needs were addressed as well as the social cost of Carbon in the ‘De-Lignitization’ regions.

Carbon management technologies are emerging at an accelerated pace, but many are still at the demonstration level and require further development to achieve commercial scale deployment. One technology, however, that is well tested and proven at scale is Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS). CCUS is now well integrated in many national and regional carbon management plans and its application includes power-generation CO2 as well as CO2 produced by industrial sources.

CCUS technologies involve the capture of CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes. The CO2 is compressed and transported via ship or pipeline to a location where the CO2 can be used as a resource to create valuable products or services and/or can be permanently stored in deep geological formations that can act as safe storage reservoirs.

CCUS technologies also provide the foundation for carbon removal or ‘negative emissions’ for the production of Hydrogen (Blue H2), many bio-based processes or, on a smaller scale, the capture of CO2 directly from the atmosphere (Direct Air Capture).

Furthermore, carbon dioxide can be transformed into new products for the chemical industry and synthetic fuel such as methanol, fertilizers, plastics, and as a basic ingredient for the food industry. CO2 can also be used for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and enhance the life span of oil wells.

Achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement, and limiting global warming to 1.5°C, will necessitate removal of large volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere to achieve net-zero emissions. As a result, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has required all its participating countries to deploy zero carbon and negative carbon technologies to capture 90Gt of CO2 by 2050 to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Oasis CMG partners have significant experience in creating diverse partnerships specific to a project in question, by encompassing and engaging private and government entities and academic and research institutions.  In addition, the Oasis CMG approach is heavily based on best practices with regards to Transparency, Public Discourse and Outreach.

With decades of experience in carbon management technologies for the power, industrial and mining sectors, Oasis CMG partners have participated in significant R&D projects on all aspects of CCUS. The team has worked with major companies and government organizations on carbon management and has access to financial institutions Interested in investing in the commercialization of new technologies.

Oasis CMG partners are currently active in a number of carbon management projects funded by the private and public sectors, including:

  • Industrial CCUS Applications for CO2 Emissions
  • Matching CO2 Sources and Sinks
  • Direct Air Capture Applications and Planning
  • Geologic Characterization Towards ‘Carbon Safe’ Storage
  • Methane Emissions Detection and Control Using Drones
  • Carbon Credits via Offsets and Avoided Emissions
  • Emission Reduction in Fossil Production and Distribution Systems
  • Reducing Emissions in the Mining Sector

Team members are also working with governments and industry in assessing current national Infrastructure and future needs for enabling deployment of Green Technologies at scale and promoting hydrogen production for Blue and Green H2.

Strengthened climate goals and new investment incentives can provide significant momentum for CCUS, with plans for more than 100 new facilities announced in 2021. However, although recent progress is encouraging, the planned pipeline of projects would fall well short of delivering the 1.7 billion tons of CO2 capture capacity deployed by 2030, and in the Net Zero scenario by 2050. That will create, according to a recent study by Exxon Mobil Corporation, a $4 trillion market by 2050 for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground.

For Greece, the current situation of uncontrolled high prices of carbon, natural gas, and general energy dependence makes the case for CCUS imperative to study and apply. The CCUS pattern could be employed at Greece’s new, state-of-the-art lignite plants such as Ptolemaida 5, provided that the operation of coal-fired units is allowed to continue beyond 2028. The application of carbon capture technologies combined with modern burning technologies will lead to a positive environmental footprint and a production cost that will be lower than that of modern natural gas-fired plants.

The country does not lag in performance compared to other countries. On the contrary, it finds itself among the countries that have advanced their decarbonization, having started years ago. The application of CCUS technology would give regional and local communities in Greece the opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the economy and energy safety while saving resources thanks to investment in domestic production energy with low CO2 emissions, dissociating economic development from these emissions and provide a portion of the clean Energy the economy needs to grow.

Konstantine Drougos is the CEO of Oasis Carbon Management Group. He has held executive and non-executive roles in Europe and is a frequent speaker on Greece-U.S. ties and on entrepreneurship and professional development. He is Vice President and Member of the Board of Eastern Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA), a leading Hellenic American organization.

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