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SE Asian actors seek to develop carbon capture and storage technologies

by Sangam Paudel, Jul 25
2 minutes read

Malaysian state-owned oil and gas company PETRONAS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DNV to support the development of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS or CCS) in Southeast Asia.

So what?

The initiative has presented CCUS technology as playing a crucial role in Asia’s energy transition, highlighting the need to reach net zero amidst Southeast Asia’s fossil fuel dependent energy mix. These claims seem consistent with the mindset of other influential actors in the region: the National University of Singapore’s Green Energy Programme established in 2018 focuses on carbon capture and utilisation, and Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) will be conducting feasibility studies to study carbon capture tech for waste-to-energy plants. Beyond Singapore, Japan has been pushing for CCUS technology across its investments in Southeast Asia.

The question is: what does carbon capture mean for broader efforts at decarbonization? The IPCC in its recent report (AR6 – WGIII) presented CCUS technology as an important decarbonisation in most of its mitigation pathways. This suggests that carbon capture will be a part of the net zero strategy, even though the costs of such capture now are extremely high. However, rather than evaluating the tech as good/bad in a silo, a more systemic lens ought to be taken. How might CCUS technology interact or affect other efforts at climate change mitigation? CCUS technology that is based on a continued dependence of fossil fuels, by justifying existing carbon-intensive projects and delaying important efforts at decarbonization of the energy mix should be seen as harmful to the planet. Thus, the mindsets of actors deploying the CCUS technology, their vested interests in the energy system, and impacts on the renewable energy transition should be carefully examined while evaluating CCUS initiatives.



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