Demonstration of a fully integrated power plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) at scale has not yet been achieved, despite growing international political interest in the potential of the technology to contribute to climate change mitigation and calls from multiple constituents for more demonstration projects. Acknowledging the scale of learning that still must occur for the technology to advance towards deployment, multiple CCS demonstration projects of various scales are emerging globally. Current plans for learning and knowledge sharing associated with demonstration projects, however, seem to be limited and narrowly conceived, raising questions about whether the projects will deliver on the expectations raised. Through a comparison of the structure, framing and socio-political context of three very different CCS demonstration projects in different places and contexts, this paper explores the complexity of social learning associated with demonstration projects. Variety in expectations of the demonstration projects’ objectives, learning processes, information sharing mechanisms, public engagement initiatives, financing and collaborative partnerships are highlighted. The comparison shows that multiple factors including the process of building support for the project, the governance context and the framing of the project matter for the learning in demonstration projects. This analysis supports a broader conceptualization of learning than that currently found in CCS demonstration plans – a result with implications for both future research and practice.