ASEAN is projected to remain dependent on fossil fuels, particularly coal, for electricity generation. Of all the fossil fuels, coal emits the highest CO2 emissions. The ASEAN Member States (AMS) regard carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) as a vital technology for decarbonising energy systems and achieving net-zero targets. There are several barriers to developing CCUS in the ASEAN region, including the lack of supporting policies or regulatory frameworks, the need for high capital investment and concerns about technology readiness.

The report “Role of Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in Low-Carbon Development in ASEAN” has been published by ASEAN Centre of Energy. Several recommendations are presented to assist in the building of a strong foundation for CCUS deployment in the region: establish supportive policies and financial support, enable technology maturation, strengthen regional cooperation, create shared CCUS infrastructures and establish a forum for information sharing.


The ASEAN region has abundant coal resources and coal has served for decades as the main energy source fuelling the region’s industrialisation and economic development. As shown in Figure 1, the region’s installed power capacity from coal is expected to surge from 73GW to 259GW in 2017 and 2040 respectively, while the CO₂ emissions will grow to 4,171Mt in 2040, up from 1,686 Mt in 2017.

The increasing CO₂ emissions resulting from  growing  fossil  fuel  consumption  raises  important  environmental  concerns  that  could  endanger  humanity.  Given the  high  vulnerability  of  the  ASEAN  countries  to  the  impacts  of  climate  change,  allowing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to continue rising rapidly – as they do in the Baseline Scenario – is very risky. Without the significant reductions  in  global  GHG  emissions  envisioned  in  the  Paris  Agreement,  the  ASEAN  Member  States  (AMS)  are  bound  to  face  evermore  serious  climate  change impacts over the coming decades.

To discuss the necessary actions needed to combat climate change, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow, Scotland 31 October  –  12  November  2021.  One of the important notes from  COP26  is  that  most  of  the  AMS  pledged  to  net-zero  emissions as part of their carbon emissions reductions, with Vietnam and Thailand announcing their commitments during the conference. Later, Lao PDR, Indonesia and Malaysia also committed to  net-zero  targets,  while  Brunei  Darussalam,  Myanmar   and   Singapore   were   the   early   countries   to   announce   net-zero   emissions.   These   nations’   plans   are   aligned with  the  ASEAN  2050  vision  for  climate  action  to  achieve  net-zero  GHG  emissions  as  early  as  possible  in  the  latter half of the 21st Century. During the two-week climate conference, carbon capture and storage   (CCS)   received   a   great   deal   of   attention.  

The   deployment of  CCS  and  carbon  capture  utilisation  and  storage (CCUS) is considered essential as component of the mission to reduce global emissions. There were more than 30 events relating to CCUS held at COP26, relating to policy formulation,  financial  instruments,  business  strategies,  and  social  and  technical  issues. The  United  States  and  China  also   announced   their   agreement,   the   “U.S.-China   Joint   Glasgow  Declaration  on  Enhancing  Climate  Action  in  the  2020s”, to cooperate on the deployment and application of technologies such as CCUS and direct air capture.

In ASEAN, CCUS could be fundamental in helping the region decarbonise   energy   systems   from   coal-based   electricity   generation and in achieving the net-zero target. Some AMS have  expressed  interest  in  deploying  CCUS  technologies  in  their   countries.   However,   none   has   established   specific   measures or an action plan, such as policy support from governments towards the energy transition and low-carbon economy through CCUS development. This article discusses the opportunities of CCUS deployment, the  main  barriers  that  hinder  CCUS  development  and  key  recommendations to assist the launching of CCUS projects in the ASEAN region.

Challenges faced in implementing CCUS in the ASEAN

CCUS  is  a  technology  that  captures  the  carbon  emitted  during fossil fuel combustion. The carbon can either be used as a resource, for example in enhanced oil recovery (EOR), or it  can  be  permanently  stored.  CCUS  has  long  been  seen  as an  emissions  reduction  solution  for  the  power  sector  and  carbon-intensive  industries,  such  as  cement  and  steel.

It  is  regarded by many energy specialists as having a key role to play in   decarbonising   energy   systems   and   addressing   the   key   challenge of global climate change. In  Southeast  Asia,  at  least  seven  potential  projects  have  been  identified  and  are  in  early  development  stages  –  in  Indonesia,  Malaysia,  Singapore  and  Timor-Leste. The  CCS  Gundih  Project in East Java, Indonesia, is regarded as the first CCS pilot project in the ASEAN. The objective is to store CO₂ from Gundih Gas Field (which has around 21% of CO₂ content) that is flared from Gundih Centre Processing Plant (CPP) with a total of CO₂storage of around 3Mt for 10 years.

Although Indonesia has made significant progress, there is still a  lack  of  supporting  policies  and  regulatory  framework  at  the  regional  and  national  levels.  Some  key  issues  that  could  be  addressed    in    the    regulations    include    geological    site    determination,  permitting  requirements,  long-term  ownership  and  liability  for  stored  CO₂  and  requirements  for  securing  financial    backing.    Robust    targeted    policies    and    strong    stakeholders’ relationships are critical for successfully deploying the   technology,  especially   in   the   early   stages   of   CCUS   deployment.

CCUS  technologies  require  intensive  capital  investment,  and  moreover, in case of CCS technology without utilisation, studies claim  that  it  generates  almost  no  revenues.  As  most  of  the  AMS  are  developing  countries,  the  costs  could  hinder  the  development of CCUS. Therefore, financial support is needed to implement  CCUS  in  coal-fired  power  plants  and  industrial  activities.  Enhanced  gas  and  oil  recovery  using  captured  CO₂could also reduce the costs of CCUS.The   deployment   of   CCUS   technologies   requires   advanced   technologies to capture, transport, inject and drill the geological storage.  There are also concerns about public acceptance given the safety issues during CO₂ transportation or CO₂ storage. As only  pilot  projects  are  in  operation,  technology  maturation  is  needed  before  greater  application  of  CCUS  throughout the region can occur.

The entire report can be accessed here