• CCS technology could see costs fall significantly, according to thought piece

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

An interesting article on the GreenTech Media website has speculated about possible future prices for the capture of carbon dioxide from air, seeing the potential for them to drop sharply. The article is based on the premise encapsulated in Amara’s law – that technological changes are overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term. Many technologies follow an S-curve during their development from conception to maturity, where during earlier development, much effort is expended to reduce costs only moderately. This begins to change, with costs falling more rapidly with greater development effort, until the curve once again changes such that only marginal cost improvements are gained through additional effort. The article argues, essentially, the carbon capture technology is in the initial stages of the S-curve, and that greater pay-offs to development effort are to come. Supporting this argument is the work of Shell researchers Gert Jan Kramer and Martin Haigh, who in 2009 found that it took around 30 years for a newly-invented technology to achieve a 1% share of the world’s energy use. If carbon capture costs fall at a rate similar to battery technology over the last decade, the article suggests that capture costs could be at around US$20/tonne CO2 by the mid-2040s. While the argument is based on capture from air, a similar argument could be made for capture from industrial processes.