Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 utilisation

CO2 utilisation technologies, also known as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) or CO2 re-use, capture CO2 and convert it into new products or services. CCU is gaining momentum as academia, industry and governments seek solutions to reduce emissions and create new business opportunities.

But benefits cannot be taken for granted and questions about economic viability, environmental impacts and trade-offs between economics and the environment have to be carefully analysed. To enable informed decision-making, systematic and standardised assessment is required, involving a combination of techno-economic assessment (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) so that studies can be easily comparable and allow informed decisions.

EIT Climate-KIC and other bodies (e.g. The Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) of the European Commission) and practitioners have recognised the need for a set of common assessment guidelines. Since 2017, EIT Climate-KIC has supported the development of Techno-Economic and Life Cycle Assessment guidelines to enhance reliability, transparency and comparability of data for CO2 utilisation.

As research and technology readiness levels in CCU mature, investors and funders require clarifications on the potential impact of these technologies. The guidelines allow technologies to be compared based on their climate mitigation potential, guiding research and practitioners in their assessment of technical, environmental and economic benefits. The guides will also support companies that are trying to choose between bio-based, CCU and other waste routes to create their products and need data for comparisons.

From 2014 to 2017, EIT Climate-KIC has been fostering innovation for CO2 re-use technologies for polymers and chemical intermediates (for example fibres, rubbers and dampers) at industrial scale. In 2017, our strategy shifted to systems transformation, identifying information flows, standards, market structure and skills as key drivers to enhance our understanding of socio-economic and environmental implication of CO2 utilisation technologies. Findings were translated into a set of free online courses on CO2 reuse, making essential information and facts on CCU accessible to a broad variety of stakeholders.

The guidelines were produced in partnership with the University of Sheffield, RWTH Aachen, IASS Potsdam, TU Berlin, and supported by the Global CO2 Initiative at the University of Michigan, EIT Climate-KIC and several other partner organisations. The first version of these guidelines was published and disseminated in October 2018 in Brussels.

 

 
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