Carbon capture projects global

Strong growth: 1000 carbon capture projects and counting

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is set to play a key role in decarbonizing industrial sites across the world. But how far have we gotten and where are we headed? To understand the pace and scale of growth in different segments and regions, you’ll have to stay on top of carbon capture project development. 

With an overwhelming and growing amount of data available, staying on top is easier said than done. This data-driven overview presents the state of carbon capture in spring of 2024. We base our overview on data available in CaptureMap, and have deliberately added as little interpretation as possible on top of the data to stay close to the facts. We prefer to leave the interpretation to you. 

This article is the first of a three-part blog series, where we will tackle the following topics: 

  1. New projects – this article: Here we look at the total portfolio of projects, with a special emphasis on comparing year on year developments.
  2. Capture capacity across segments – coming soon!
  3. Projects pipeline – coming soon!

PS: Read the appendix at the end to be clear on our approach and definitions.

There are more than 1000 capture projects in the world

As of spring 2024, there are 1007 carbon capture projects in the world. Of these, a total of 228 capture plants are currently in operation, 66 in EPC, and 657 in feasibility, whereas the remaining 56 are either inactive or on hold. Many of the plants in operation are located at industrial facilities with high concentration CO2 readily available: ammonia or hydrogen production facilities, ethanol plants, gas treatment plants with CO2 separation, for example. Some of the plants currently in operation are at pilot or demo stage, but the majority is operating on a larger scale.

A significant proportion of the total projects across the different engineering stages are located in Europe (37 % by number of projects) and North America (45 %). That said, there are an increasing number of capture projects in the rest of the world, including the Middle East, South-East Asia, Australia, China and Japan. The illustration below illustrates all the different capture projects CaptureMap currently covers, along with emitters marked in gray where we have not as yet identified capture projects.  

Capture projects globally

2023 was another strong year for capture project announcements

A total of 204 new capture projects were announced in 2023 –  meaning they appeared in public space for the first time. This is a slight increase from announcements in 2022, and a slight decrease from 2021 (192 and 223, respectively). 

Only about half of the announced projects in 2023 had capture capacity quantified, and on average each of these projects would capture ca. 800 000 tonnes CO2 per year, with very large variations between projects. The total capture capacity of CCUS projects announced in 2023 is nearly 80 million tonnes CO2 per year, for the projects with that data available. 

We’re less than halfway through 2024, but we thought we’d include this data point as an interesting comparison. As of end-of-May, there were 46 projects announced in 2024, of which 18 had quantified capture capacity volumes summing to 6 million tonnes CO2 per year. It’s too early to draw the line for 2024, but this does indicate a significant dip in project announcements compared to the last three years. 

Capture capacity and number of projects announced

Europe and North America account for the most projects announced and the largest capture capacities in 2023

A total of 98 projects were announced in Europe in 2023, which is the region with the most projects announced. Within that region, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden had the most announcements. On the overall, the USA is the country with the most announced projects, with 68 projects in 2023, far ahead of any other country in the world. Within APAC, Japan announced 13 projects. Some additional project announcements were made in the country, but without specifying the actual assets included in the projects (clusters) – these are therefore not included in our overview.

Number of carbon capture projects announced in 2023

In terms of announced capture capacities, North America, and in particular USA, leads the way with the highest volumes in 2023, with 51 million tonnes of CO2 capture capacity per year for the USA alone and 1,4 for Canada. Europe follows suit with nearly 22 million tonnes of capture capacity, with the other regions significantly less than that. 

Distribution of capture capacity volumes

2023: the year of cement facilities

We can call 2023 the year of cement facilities. Many of the projects announced in 2021 and 2022 were aiming for readily available CO2 from ethanol plants, hydrogen or ammonia production, and gas treatment plants. In contrast, 2023 saw an increase in process emissions and hard to abate sectors, such as cement facilities, lime or glass production, and for waste-to-energy plants. Other important sectors for carbon capture in 2023 also included power plants, refineries, hydrogen and ammonia production. 

The pipeline of capture projects announced keeps on growing

The past few years have seen a large increase in the number of capture projects being announced. Our data shows that new projects appear every year, not only at the feasibility stage, but also directly in EPC or operations. Some companies keep their projects confidential until they reach an advanced development stage, and then make a big announcement for EPC or operation. For example in 2023, 17 projects entered our overview straight to EPC stage, and 20 projects entered operations without prior announcement. 

We know this because our projects database contains more than 3000 time-stamped project updates, each reflecting the status of a project at a given moment in time: project’s engineering stage, planned capture capacity, etc. For some well-known projects we have up to 40 updates reflecting their progression over time.

The flow diagram below illustrates year by year, from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2023, the flow of projects from first announcement to operations or inactive-state. The figure shows that the pool of projects at feasibility stage grows much faster than that of projects in EPC or operations. This is logical as 1) there is a delay between a project entering feasibility and it moving to the next stages, 2) not all feasibility projects move forward to the next stage.

Sankey diagram of capture project evolution


In summary, 2023 was another bumper year for carbon capture projects. Significant activity across sectors and regions has added strong volumes to the pipeline. This is excellent news because every project needs a start. The broader the funnel is at the beginning, therefore, the more projects will likely make it to operation. 

What’s missing? Let’s be direct. What we need is that more of these projects advance in the pipeline and mature all the way to the final investment decision (FID). Could 2024 be the year for that? We’re hopeful!

Appendix – Where does our carbon capture project data come from and what does it contain?

Our ambition with CaptureMap is to be the world’s most accurate overview of large CO2 emitters and their associated carbon capture projects. We can’t do that without laser focus on data quality. And it’s this elusive chase of data perfection that drives us and that makes our users come to us. We’re the first to tell you that our dataset is still not perfect. Yet, from our users we also hear that we collectively know more than anyone else, and that our advantage is growing.  

Historic CO2 data in CaptureMap is made from a combination of different public databases that we clean, harmonize and consolidate. It’s already quite challenging, but doable. See a blog here about one of the databases that makes us smile and also pull our hair out.  

For capture projects we needed a different approach. That’s in part because the landscape changes so quickly, but also because the publicly available databases lack the granularity and update frequency we’re looking for. Therefore, we decided to develop an in-house database of capture projects using Python sprinkled with a bit of artificial intelligence (AI). We won’t divulge all the secrets of our recipe, but in short, it’s a tech stack that cuts about 90% of the processing time compared to manual approaches. And it scales incredibly well. 

Our main data source for capture projects are press releases and news articles about the projects, all available in the public domain. This means that confidential projects are not included. We think transparency on data sourcing is imperative to build trust in the data. We then tie information about every capture project back to a specific facility, existing (brownfield) or future (greenfield), on the map. This means that we do not include projects for clusters or hubs of emitters when the exact facilities are not specified. This strict mapping framework allows us to avoid double-counting, and makes it possible to tie our precise CO2 emission data and activity segments to capture projects giving unique insights.   

In CaptureMap and in this document, a capture project consists of a capture unit being developed or already operating at a specific industrial facility. We focus on the capture of CO2 from combustion, process or fermentation emissions, and the database does not include Direct Air Capture (DAC). 

We tag each capture project with relevant data about its engineering stage, the planned capture capacity, companies involved in the project, the transport mode and fate of CO2, and other relevant fields. 

In terms of engineering stages, projects are categorized within:

  • Feasibility: from early concept through FEED studies, until the final investment decision
  • EPC: engineering, procurement and construction, from the final investment decision to the commissioning
  • Operation: when the plant is operational
  • Hold: for projects that are temporarily set on hold but not abandoned
  • Inactive: for decommissioned facilities or abandoned projects.

When an industrial facility has different project phases for capture units ongoing, we distinguish between each of these phases, and each one will be counted as an individual project. We’ve come across facilities that have one capture unit in operation, building the next one and a third one in feasibility, so the distinction is more relevant than you’d think.  

We chose deliberately to include pilot and demonstration capture projects in our database, as they tend to be an indicator that the industrial actor hosting those is seriously considering CCUS as a decarbonization solution. These projects represent about 13% of all the projects in the database at the time of this writing, and we’ll also make a separate post about these soon.

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