An assessment report prepared by the Sustainable Economics and Finance Research Association (SEFiA) states that carbon capture technologies support the use of fossil fuels and signal a limited/costly effort that leads to a delay in green transformation.

The study titled “Are carbon capture technologies really climate friendly?” compiles the analysis of the literature on carbon capture technologies. The assessment reveals that these technologies are used to produce more oil and gas rather than being climate-friendly. 

It is stated that carbon dioxide captured by CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies), which has a 73% share among all carbon capture technologies, is transported to depleted oil fields and reused to extract more oil. It is emphasized that this use, called enhanced oil production, ensures the continuity of carbon use and that 80-90% (>240 million tons) of the carbon dioxide captured in the last 50 years has been used in enhanced oil production activities.

The record of carbon capture technologies: Limited volume, technical problems and high cost

  • The historical development of CCUS technologies points in the opposite direction and to a limited volume: CCUSs current carbon capture capacity – 45 Mt of carbon dioxide – covers only 0.1% of total global emissions. On the other hand, 69% of CCUS use takes place in natural gas processing, and CCUS used in this sector contribute nothing to all other indirect emissions along the value chain (Scope 3).
  • Failed examples to date raise questions about the future of CCUS technologies: Since 2000, nearly 90% of CCUS capacity in power plants has failed in the implementation phase – due to technical constraints – or has been suspended prior to implementation. Studies show that to date, no project has achieved the carbon capture target to which it committed. 
  • It does not seem possible to guarantee a reliable CCUS/CCS implementation: In the final stage of CCS (carbon capture and storage technologies), the captured carbon dioxide needs to be permanently stored in a suitable geological site. However, there is no guarantee that there will be no leakage in these geological sites and the stored carbon dioxide needs to be monitored for years. This problem becomes even more important, especially in earthquake-prone areas. Another uncertain issue is who is responsible for the safety of the geological site after a plant ceases operations.
  • The use of carbon capture technologies means lower energy efficiency in power plants and higher upfront investment costs: In the power sector, separating carbon dioxide from other gases in a power plant’s exhaust stream (mainly nitrogen and water vapor), compressing it, transporting it by pipeline and injecting it deep underground under high pressure requires significant time, labor and much more energy.Known as an energy penalty, this means a reduction in the energy efficiency of the plant and a reduction in the electricity that leaves the plant and reaches consumers. 

It is not possible to balance the use of fossil resources and the climate crisis.The solution lies in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Bengisu Özenç, SEFiA Director: We see that the technical and economic feasibility of carbon capture technologies is a major question mark.This is recognized in the National Energy Plan announced by the Ministry of Energy at the end of 2022. Costs are expected to come down with technological progress, but historically, CCS has been a costly endeavor with limited uptake that has delayed the green transition.While wind and solar projects cost 40% less than coal and gas projects, we believe that it is misleading to present a technology that is both more costly and has a relatively uncertain future and reliability as a solution to emissions.

Taylan Kurt, SEFiA Analyst: The use of carbon capture technologies is being considered for Turkey, although not in the near term.Contrary to expectations of coal phase-out, Turkey’s National Energy Plan, which envisages the installation of new coal capacity, does not include a decision to invest in power plants with CCS technology due to high initial investment costs, but it is also stated that thermal power plants with CCS technology may be included in the generation portfolio with a higher rate of decrease in costs and increase in efficiency in the coming years.