What is Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon capture is the capture of the carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels. An overview of a number of different technologies available for carbon capture is available here. This would then be compressed until, at pressures of around 100 atmospheres, it turns into a dense liquid. It can then be injected into porous rock layers a kilometre or more underground where it can be retained by overlying layers of impermeable rocks for tens of thousands of years or longer. After capture, the CO2 is piped to a suitable site storage underground (geological sequestration). Possible storage sites include saline aquifers (vast underground water-containing rock formations), unmineable coal seams, depleted oil and gas wells, amongst others. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other studies indicate that CCS can decrease the CO2 emissions to atmosphere of a typical coal-burning power plant by up to 90%, making development of this technology an attractive prospect.
The North Sea, with mature hydrocarbon fields and saline aquifers offers an attractive storage location for CO2 produced by the UK’s gas and coal-fired power plants. The estimated storage capacity in the UK is at least 20 Gt, compared to total UK emissions of almost 0.6 Gt per year. The Government’s commitment to allow a full-scale demonstration of CCS in 2008 underlines the strategic importance placed on this technology; CCS could alone make a significant contribution to meeting the UK’s targets for reductions in CO2 emissions in the period 2020-2050
CCS is the only way which we can continue to use the fossil fuels upon which the energy supply of our current society is based, and one of the only realistic ways to prevent dangerous climate change whilst we move towards a fully sustainable future.
Video with text - Paul Fennell
COP18 (27/11/12) -- Paul Fennell, Senior Lecturer on Carbon Capture and Storage at Imperial College, London talks about the process of carbon capture and storage and the important role it will play if the world continues to emit greenhouse gas emissions.