The opportunities for near-term implementation of low and zero-emission fossil fuel power generation using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is emerging in niche markets. This is primarily motivated by regulations following a growing awareness regarding the potential impact of climate-change, and partly the opportunities for use of carbon-dioxide (CO2) with enhanced oil recovery (EOR). However there remain significant technology, engineering, investment and political barriers that need to be overcome before CCS can be accepted as commercially mature for the power generation industry and the finance community. The risk with early projects is high, while collaboration and trust between government, industry and investors will also be needed to commercialize the technology. With an emerging sense of urgency regarding a global consensus for tackling climate-change, one also observes that technology pathways are integrated with political agendas and it becomes important to roadmap a commercial strategy for the respective technologies taking account of government requirements for compromise and burden sharing. To some extent this can also impact on comparative choices for the most cost-effective technologies that are supported through to future commercial deployment. The situation is complicated by the fact that technology choice—be it pre-combustion, post-combustion or oxy-combustion—remains an open question, where parties are probably influenced by their historical expertise, available hardware and near-term perception of future carbon challenge. The fact that energy, materials and engineering costs have been escalating rapidly while there is also a fundamental paradigm change occurring, somewhat undermines the use of historical data and past experience to predict business opportunities for the future. Within this context the paper considers on-going carbon market evolution in three regions, namely Texas, North Europe and Canada, seen from a technology and project developer perspective. The paper applies updated project engineering costs for capture from natural gas (NG) and coal using post- and oxy-combustion technology. Under all circumstances projects still exhibit poor economic return on invested capital and depend on government participation; they therefore remain unattractive to the investment community. But perhaps more important is the current perception of technology and market risk which also appears to undermine motivation to make significant commitments when evaluating projects within the old paradigm. However such a situation is not politically sustainable and a new paradigm must emerge. This will occur through regulation and significant changes in pricing in the energy and commodity market—including valuation of captured and avoided CO2. And this will also impact on the relative merits of various technology options. For the time being these discussion and results are only indicative of how a new paradigm and evolving technology may become “game-changing”, but the paper does attempt to provide some foresight into future opportunities.

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