Current investment levels in carbon capture and storage (CCS) need to be increased for the technology to play its part in tackling climate change, finds two reports out this week.

Both the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook Special Report on energy and climate change and the Grantham Research Institute’s (GRI) report into improving the CCS framework in Europe have found that CCS is vital to achieving our long-term climate change goals – but that the current levels of investment are not enough to ensure the technology reaches its full potential.

Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute, says, “CCS is vital to decarbonise industry and to enable the power sector’s transition to a low carbon future. As the IEA report notes, without CCS, other sectors will have to shoulder more of the burden. However, investment is urgently needed now to get more projects operational, bringing costs down in the long run as experience grows.”

The IEA cites a main challenge to widespread deployment of CCS in the power sector as “the need to bring down the costs to a level that sustains competition with other low-carbon technologies.”

Its solution to wider deployment includes: regulatory measures and targeted incentives; continued R&D alongside policies that encourage development of carbon dioxide (CO2) storage capacity. Importantly, the IEA finds in the absence of the full uptake of CCS, “other pathways would require more difficult changes in how energy is supplied and used, could reduce the quality of energy services and would incur higher costs.”

The GRI’s report echoes the IEA’s call for additional policies to be put in place, finding that within “the European Union (EU), CCS is expected to play a crucial role in achieving emissions reduction targets at the lowest cost.”

It calls for greater EU and Member state incentives to support the development of commercial-scale CCS in Europe, arguing that these need to be combined with reforms to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and Innovation Fund to accelerate investment.

Page says that both reports highlight the need for urgent action, “If we are serious about tackling the climate challenge, we need to use all the technologies available. These reports show what needs to be done in the EU and globally to make sure CCS is deployed at scale.”