Svante: CCS breakthrough?

Svante technology review

Svante is suggesting its technology can absorb 90% of CO2 in a 60-second cycle, that lasts 450,000 cycles, is not contaminated by water-vapor, and costs 50% less than conventional CCS. This would be a CCS game-changer.

Hence it has attracted an amazing list of investors and partners, since building a 30Tpd pilot plant in 2019, and announcing further pilots with TOTAL/Lafarge and Chevron.

Agonizingly we could not de-risk the technology based on our usual patent review. Reasons are elaborated in the data-file. So we will await further progress before de-risking a CCS game-changer.

CO2 liquefaction: the economics?

CO2 liquefaction cost

The purpose of this data-file is to model the economics of liquefying CO2 for transportation in a ship, rail car or truck, in order to facilitate the rise of CCS, especially at smaller scales.

Our baseline is a cost of $15/ton, using c100kWh of energy per ton of CO2, which is approximately equivalent to a c3% energy penalty on the combustion process that generated the original CO2. There is scope for optimization, including from demand shifting.

Our calculations are based on a literature review of technical papers, and aggregating data into the energy costs of CO2 liquefaction, across different pressures and temperatures.

Carbon Clean: CCS breakthrough?

Carbon clean CCS technology

Carbon Clean is a CCS company. It has captured over 1MT,  across 38 facilities, using some of its technology. But in addition, it is developing a next-generation plant design and next-generation solvent, which could ultimately lower a typical $70/ton carbon capture cost to $30-40/ton.

Overall, this review finds a very decent, albeit concentrated patent library,  clarifying how its solvents and reactors work, including good specificity and impressive technical data. This helps de-risk the idea of lower thermal energy use, a more compact design, higher reliability and ultimately lower costs.


CO2 capture: a cost curve?

CO2 capture cost curve

This data-file summarizes the costs of capturing CO2 from different sources, so that it can be converted into materials, electro-fuels or sequestered.

Specifically, we have estimated the full-cycle costs (in $/ton), ultimate potential (in MTpa) and other technical considerations, linking to our other models and data-files.

The lowest-cost options are to access pure CO2 streams that are simply being vented at present, such as from the ethanol or LNG industries, but the ultimate running-room from this opportunity set is <200MTpa.

Blue hydrogen, steel and cement place next on the cost curve and could each have GTpa scale. Power stations place next, at $60-100/ton.

DAC is conceptually attractive, as the only carbon negative technology, but if all CO2 molecules in the atmosphere are fungible, it is not clear why you would pursue DAC until options lower down the cost curve had been exhausted.

CO2 disposal in geologic formations: the economics?

costs of CO2 sequestration

Costs of CO2 sequestration — i.e., disposing of the CO2 in geological formations — is extremely variable and project-dependent, ranging from $5-50/ton.

Our base case is c$20/ton. This is the disposal price needed to earn a 10% post-tax IRR, transporting, injecting and monitoring CO2 in the sub-surface.

This model captures the economics and costs of CO2 sequestration in geological formations, as a function of a dozen input variables: such as CO2 prices, costs, transportation distances and reservoir properties.

Our capex and opex estimates are broken down, line-by-line across c30 different line-items, using granular technical disclosures from the EPA’s GEOCAT database.

Offshore Sequestration Costs. Our modelled costs are also compared with detailed estimates for offshore disposal beneath the UK North Sea, based on recent technical papers.

Regulation is also challenging. For example, some projects will be required to monitor the injection site for over 50-years after injection has ceased, to ensure CO2 does not leak back out again.

Please download the data-file to stress tests the economics. CO2 sequestration is one piece of a three-piece chain required for CCS, alongside CO2 capture (e.g., using the amine process) and CO2 transportation in a CO2 pipeline or with CO2 trucks. Our recent research has also sought to quantify the upside in CCS.

Direct air capture of CO2: the economics?

direct air capture of CO2

Direct Air Capture of CO2 (DAC) will cost around c$200/ton of CO2 abated, all in, and apples-to-apples with other technologies assessed by TSE.  This data-file models out the economics of the process in detail (chart above).

Our model is based upon excellent technical disclosures from Carbon Engineering, which we have aggregated. Our data-file includes a full breakdown of the capital costs and the energy associated with each component of the DAC plant, plus an explanation of the process.

Stress-testing shows total CO2 removal costs will range between $150-300/ton of CO2,  flexing 18 input assumptions, such as WACCs, tax-support, cost-deflation, utilization, power prices, gas prices and water prices. (gas- and water-intensity of the process should be noted). Our conclusions on the economics of direct air capture of CO2 were also highlighted in an article sent out in 2020 to our distribution list.

Related research. Carbon Engineering is commercializing a ‘dry process’ for DAC, which informs our numbers here. Although there is also a ‘wet process’ that we have reviewed, being progressed by companies such as Climeworks. We still prefer the economics and philosophy of nature-based solutions as a form of sequestering atmospheric CO2.

Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells: CCS plus Power? The Economics?

Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell Economics

Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells could be extremely promising, generating electrical power from natural gas as an input, while also capturing CO2 from industrial flue gases through an electrochemical process.

We model competitive economics can be achieved, under our base case assumptions, making it possible to retrofit units next to carbon-intensive industrial facilities, while also helping to power them.

Our full model runs off 18 input variables, which you can flex, to stress test your own assumptions.

Global CCS Projects Database

Database of Global CCS Projects

This data-file captures 65 carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities around the world, of which c30 are currently running, with capacity to sequester 40MTpa of CO2. Capacity should rise 2.5x by 2030.

As costs deflate, CCS is expanding to more countries, more industries and away from EOR towards dedicated geological storage (charts above).

The full data-file includes each facility, its location, involved companies, construction status, volumes (MTpa), CCS process, industrial source of CO2, start-up, storage type, capex ($M where available), capex cost ($/ton where available) and 2-3 lines of notes per facility.

Northern Lights CCS: the economics?

Northern Lights CCS economics

We have modeled out simple economics for Northern Lights, the most elaborate carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme ever proposed by the energy industry (Equinor, Shell, TOTAL).

The project involves capturing industrial CO2, liquefying it, transporting it in ships, receiving it onshore in Norway, piping it 110km offshore, then injecting it 3,000m below the seabed. Phase 1 will likely sequester 1.3-1.5MTpa, with potential expansion to 5MTpa.

Our conclusion is that Phase 1 will be expensive. However, much of the infrastructure “scales”. So phase 2 could cost 35% less, bringing the “carbon storage” component to below Europe’s carbon price. This could be promising if combined with next-generation carbon separation or decarbonised gas technologies, to lower the “carbon capture” component.

Our economic estimates can be flexed in the ‘simple model’ tab. Underlying cost calculations are substantiated in the ‘Notes’ tab.

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