The World Will Need More Carbon Capture. Texas is Filling the Gap.

Mon, December 05, 2022

This year’s World Energy Outlook report, published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), emphasized the importance of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC) technologies in meeting global net zero goals. Under the leadership of energy companies and using the vast energy infrastructure it houses, Texas is leading in the development and launch of CCS and DAC technologies that the world is depending on to meet its climate goals.

According to IEA, fossil fuels provide most of the energy and power generation in our world. As access to electricity increases and the global population grows, low-carbon technologies will become critical to meeting energy demands and global net zero goals. Hard-to-abate sectors like aviation, maritime shipping, steel and cement will be especially reliant on technologies like CCS, hydrogen production, and DAC to reduce emissions. Climate activists, government officials, investors and energy companies alike agree that these technologies are essential to tackling emissions.

The World Energy Outlook report specified that more than ten new CCS facilities will need to be commissioned each month between now and 2030 in order to meet net zero goals. Texas is already on its way to meeting that goal.  

In October, Texas energy titan Occidental announced a lease agreement with King Ranch, an agriculture company, to support large-scale DAC projects for carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in Kleberg County, Texas. The agreement provides access to land for projects to potentially remove as much as 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year through DAC and pore space estimated to store up to 3 billion metric tons of CO2 in geologic reservoirs.

The Kleberg County project is in addition to a separate large-scale direct air capture plant in Ector County, Texas. At its Ector County plant, Oxy will be able to remove 1 million tons per year of CO2. At that site, the captured CO2 is then used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. By injecting CO2 into the ground, oil that is difficult to reach can be squeezed out, making otherwise inaccessible resources now available. This process converts the removed CO2 into a valuable commodity instead of an expense that would otherwise need to be transferred via pipeline to a storage facility.

The Inflation Reduction Act will further boost CCS and DAC technologies by providing economic support for facilities. Support from the IRA is in addition to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which gave $3.5 billion for four regional direct air capture hubs. To be considered for a hub, sites must include nearby complementary infrastructure and the ability to capture 2 million metric tons of CO2 annually, a feat that will be achievable in Texas based on current projects. Texas also boasts ample space necessary for such projects and ideal geological attributes for underground CO2 storage. According to Forbes, Texas has between 661 million and 2.4 billion tons of CO2 storage capacity in underground reservoirs, further strengthening the state’s leadership in CCS and DAC.

In the Houston area, CCS continues to gain momentum as leading organizations from various industrial sectors are collectively evaluating and advancing CCS applications that can capture and store up to 50 million metric tons of CO2 per year by 2030, a figure that could double by 2040 to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from one of the country’s largest manufacturing centers. Many of these companies are also pursuing projects in their own operations. For example, ExxonMobil has announced  plans for a CCS project supporting a hydrogen production facility at one of the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemical complexes in Baytown, with the capacity to transport and store up to 10 million metric tons of CO2 per year, more than doubling the company’s current capacity.  The project would also provide access to surplus hydrogen and CO2 storage capacity to nearby industry to help others reduce emissions.

Texas is also home to the world’s first zero-emission utility-scale gas power plant. Using integrated carbon capture technology, the Odessa-based plant is able to generate electricity with nearly zero emissions and emits no other pollutants, like nitrogen oxides.

Ongoing and upcoming projects in Texas reflect the state’s world-class leadership in lowering emissions and making energy operations more efficient. Texas’ energy friendly outlook and existing infrastructure will make it the leader in emission reductions, enabling people across the globe to continue to benefit from our premier energy capabilities.