CO2 capture: a 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.

Biomass to biofuel, or biomass for burial?

Greater decarbonization at a lower cost is achievable by burying biomass (such as corn or sugarcane) rather than converting it into bio-ethanol.

This model captures the economics. Detailed costs are estimated for biomass burial and to compare the relative CO2 footprints of the two options.

Three individual tabs illustrate margins, NPVs and IRRs for sugar-cane to bio-ethanol economics, buried sugarcane, and buried napier grass.

CO2 from US bio-ethanol plants?

This data-file tabulates the CO2 emissions from US bioethanol plants, which produce around 1Mbpd of liquid fuels, with an average CO2 intensity of 85kg/boe. In addition, we estimate 160kg/boe of CO2 are emitted in producing US corn, so bio-ethanol has a total CO2 intensity of 245kg/boe (c40% less than conventional oil products).

Our data are based on granular disclosures from 170 separate facilities, which have reported to the EPA and EIA disclosures. Hence we can screen more and less CO2-intensive States and Companies.

Covered companies, ranked by ethanol capacity, include Poet, Valero, Great Plains, Koch, Marathon and White Energy.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.