Thursday, February 29, 2024

Carbon Capture And Storage, Getting Closer to Net Zero

Net zero CO2 emission is planned to be achieved between 2040 and 2060. The average temperature increase by then will be greater than the 1.5–2 °C limit set by the Paris agreement in 2015, according to the IPCC forecasts.

As the rise in temperature is literally a hot topic for climate activists and environmentalists, it was quite obvious that international stakeholders and governments get involved.

The technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which reduces emissions, will be essential in preventing global warming. It will be helpful in decarbonizing businesses that are difficult to replace, such as gas-fired power stations. As a result, CCS will support nuclear power, hydrogen fuel, and renewable energy sources in reducing global carbon emissions.

The term “carbon capture” refers to a group of technical procedures that “capture” carbon dioxide (CO2) from an emitting source, such as an ethanol plant or a fossil fuel power plant, before compressing and transporting it for consumption, storage, or both.

The most frequently discussed method is carbon capture and storage/sequestration (CCS), which involves capturing carbon dioxide before injecting it underground and storing it.

Carbon dioxide is used but not stored in carbon capture and utilization (CCU), such as when making fuels or fertilizers.

Last but not least, CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage/sequestration) combines the two. Although enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the sole activity at a scale that requires both usage and storage, CCS and CCUS are also used as umbrella names.

Does Carbon Capture Equate To Carbon Removal?

Although they are sometimes confused, CCS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) are two different but connected ideas. Carbon dioxide removal aims to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. While carbon dioxide removal systems claim to move carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere to some kind of storage, CCS technology only stops a small portion of emissions from emitting sources from entering the atmosphere.

The vast array of CDR strategies currently under development, however, are largely theoretical and have considerable costs, restrictions, or effects. Several CDR strategies also fully or partially rely on CCS methods.

Direct air capture (DAC) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which combine some or all components of CCS with other technology or processes, are two of the main suggested techniques of engineered CDR.

International Organization Stakes With Carbon Capture And Storage

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that despite the paucity of concrete instances, many climate models that use CCS to achieve climate targets make this assumption.

The IPCC issues a warning against relying too heavily on CCS and related technologies, emphasizing that their deployment is unknown in the future, that there are several practical limitations, and that they may have a negative effect on ecosystems and human rights.

The predicted paths that have the best chances of avoiding overshoot (global temperature increases beyond 1.5°C) and keeping below 1.5oC (2.7°F) rely less on CCS and BECCS and more on the quick and dramatic phaseout of fossil fuels.

A significant expansion of pipelines and related infrastructure would be necessary to scale CCS to operate at the level that some of its supporters have recommended.

By 2050, it is predicted that the United States will have captured one-fourth of its present emissions. In addition to building more than 60,000 miles of pipelines, the sector would need to manage about two and a half times as much carbon dioxide as is currently produced by the US oil industry.

Moreover, the current pipeline network cannot just be used for carbon dioxide since the demand for pipes for carbon dioxide is different from those for oil or gas. This kind of buildout is risky for several towns where facilities for capturing and storing carbon dioxide would be constructed, in addition to being unfeasible.

The Future At Stake

According to the Global CCS Institute, there are 29 active CCS projects and one active direct air capture (DAC) project functioning globally as of December 2022. More than 150 projects are in early or advanced development in more than 20 countries, including two DAC projects and eight CCS projects that are now under construction.

Half (19.8 mtpa) of the 42.6 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of operational global capture capacity are present in the US. The processing of natural gas accounts for about 70% (29.5 mtpa) of the world’s capacity, which is related to improved oil recovery projects at about 75% (31 mtpa).

With more and more CCS popping up and becoming mandatory, the future of net zero becomes a reality bit by bit.

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