S1E125: South-East Asia’s carbon storage dreams: Visionary climate solution or folly?

  • 16 Jun 2024

South-East Asia has big plans to become a regional carbon storage hub. Can it work or are the risks too great?

Synopsis: Every first and third Sunday of the month, The Straits Times analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.

For years now, we’ve heard a lot about carbon capture and storage as one possible solution to climate change. CCS, as it is known, involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from polluting operations, such as power plants, refineries and steel and cement production and injecting the CO2 deep underground. 

And not just anywhere. It has to be the right type of geological formation to ensure the CO2 doesn’t escape. 

But CCS hasn’t taken off quite as well as many, especially those in the fossil fuel industry, had hoped for. There have been several very costly failures.

And yet there are plans to greatly scale up CCS, including the creation of regional CCS hubs. One of these is in South-east Asia, using depleted oil and gas wells. 

This would lock away CO2 captured from industries in the region, or, CO2 brought in by tanker ships from major polluting nations such as Japan. So, is this a good idea? Can it make a difference in fighting climate change? Or, is it just storing up trouble for the future?

To tell ST's climate change editor David Fogarty more about this is energy sector expert Grant Hauber, advisor for Asia for the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, a US-based think tank. 

Highlights of conversation (click/tap above):

2:02 What is carbon capture and storage?

4:33 What are CCS hubs and can you explain the regional plans to create them?

8:43 CCS has been around for several decades. What have we learned?

17:10 And what about liability? Who’s responsible for any leaks?

21:01 CCS remains expensive. Will a high carbon price per tonne drive investment?

25:18 And what about alternative methods to remove CO2?

Produced by: David Fogarty (dfogarty@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis & Hadyu Rahim 

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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