Will capturing carbon emissions save our planet?

Will capturing carbon emissions save our planet?

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, climate change is becoming an increasingly pressing global issue. At the end of this century, carbon dioxide (CO2) the concentration should double. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is widely accepted as a viable way to reduce carbon emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5-2°C by 2050.

carbon dioxide, carbon capture

Image Credit: AYDO8/Shutterstock.com

What is carbon capture and storage?

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is designed to prevent CO2 released into the atmosphere by traditional power plants and industrial activities.

CCS isolates CO2 emissions from the manufacturing process, then transports and injects the compressed CO2 in a suitable geological storage place.

Benefits of Carbon Capture Technology

Among the many benefits of CCS is the ability to permanently store CO2 captured during the production of energy in underground deposits.

The International Energy Agency estimates that CCS can eliminate up to 20% of carbon dioxide emissions from power generation and industrial facilities.

Read more: The pros and cons of carbon capture

The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the amount of climate change that will be affected by the production of one metric ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere each year. By eliminating CO2 directly from its source, the social cost of carbon and the net social damage could be reduced.

The captured carbon dioxide can be used to produce plastics and chemicals such as polyurethanes on a commercial scale.

Disadvantages of carbon capture technology

Capture processes are expensive due to the need for additional energy. When this technology is implemented in an industry, the cost of the product will be increased if no subsidy is granted by the regulatory authorities.

There is no solid evidence that storing carbon dioxide underground is completely safe. Several scientists recommend continuously monitoring storage locations until complete decontamination of the area is feasible. Large-scale leaks at these locations would render the air unfit for human consumption due to the extreme toxicity of the gas.

How can carbon capture help achieve Net Zero?

CCS can help achieve cost-effective net zero emissions in the following ways:

Use of CCS in hard-to-decarbonise industrial sectors

It is difficult to decarbonise industrial sectors such as iron, cement and steel production.

According to the Energy Transition Commission and the International Energy Commission, net zero emissions in these industries may be unachievable due to high spending on green technologies.

CCS technologies are a cost-effective approach that can be easily used to decarbonize these industries by storing CO2 released during the production of iron and steel.

The captured carbon dioxide can then be used to produce methanol on a commercial scale for use as fuel.

Large-scale production of low-carbon hydrogen (green fuel)

CCS technologies can be used with coal gasification to cost-effectively produce low-carbon hydrogen. This will be the most cost effective method in places where renewables are scarce and fossil fuels inexpensive.

Hydrogen production must increase significantly for net zero emissions, from 70 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) to 650 tonnes per year by mid-century.

Hard-to-reach sectors stand to benefit from the involvement of hydrogen in decarbonization. Flexible power generation and residential heating can also benefit from this type of energy.

Low-carbon distributable power generation

Power generation must be decarbonized to achieve net zero emissions. Power plants equipped with carbon capture and storage provide grid stabilization services such as frequency management, backup power, voltage control, and dispatchable, low-carbon electricity.

The low-carbon grid of the future will be more reliable and sustainable if CCS is used in conjunction with renewables.

Recent developments in carbon capture

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK

The UK government relies on CCS technologies used by bioenergy plants to meet its climate change targets. The current Drax Power Plant has already undergone a conversion from coal to biomass.

CCS will significantly reduce the company’s CO2 footprint. Drax hopes to capture 4 million tons of CO2 annually from its power plants.

Air Products Steam Methane Reformer

The steam methane reformer of Air Products, an American company, is used to capture CO2 Port Arthur Oil Refinery in Texas. It is capable of producing 500 tons of pure hydrogen every day. According to the US Department of Energy, approximately six megatons of carbon dioxide were captured and stored by the facility in April 2020.

The Quest CCS Unit

The Scotford Upgrader plant in Alberta, Canada uses three steam methane reformers to absorb CO2 emissions. By July 2020, the facility had safely and permanently deposited five megatons of CO2 in a geological repository.

Moomba CCS Project

Santos and Beach Energy, Australian energy production and exploration companies, have been granted a final investment decision (FID) on a $165 million CCS project at the Moomba gas facility. The project will capture and store 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in a nearby repository.

Future prospects of carbon capture and storage

Although carbon capture and storage technology has been available for a long time, it is struggling to become widespread.

One of the most common reasons against implementing CCS is that it could increase the use of fossil fuels rather than stimulate investment in renewable and low-carbon energy sources.

However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says CCS will be needed to keep global warming below 1.5. ohC, and this objective cannot be achieved without the use of these technologies.

The future of global carbon capture and storage

References and further reading

Iyer, G., Clarke, L., Edmonds, J., Fawcett, A., Fuhrman, J., McJeon, H. & Waldhoff, S. (2021). The Role of Carbon Dioxide Removal in Net Zero Emissions Pledges. Energy and climate change2, 100043. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egycc.2021.100043

Page, B., Turan, G., Zapantis, A., Burrows, J., Consoli, C., Erikson, J., … & Zhang, T. (2020). CCS 2020 Global Status: Key to Reaching Net Zero. Available at: https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Global-Status-of-CCS-Report-2020_FINAL.pdf

Regufe, MJ, Pereira, A., Ferreira, AF, Ribeiro, AM and Rodrigues, AE (2021). Current developments in carbon capture, storage and/or use – pursuit of net zero emissions defined in the Paris agreement. Energies14(9), 2406. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092406

Zhongming, Z., Linong, L., Xiaona, Y., Wangqiang, Z. & Wei, L. (2021). AR6 Climate Change 2021: The basis of physical sciences. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Full_Report.pdf

Zhongming, Z., Linong, L., Xiaona, Y., Wangqiang, Z. & Wei, L. (2020). The role of CCUS in low carbon power systems. Available at: https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/ccdcb6b3-f6dd-4f9a-98c3-8366f4671427/The_role_of_CCUS_in_low-carbon_power_systems.pdf

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author expressed privately and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the terms of use of this website.

Leave a Reply