CO2 Capture and Storage
1. What is carbon dioxide capture and storage?
- 1.1 What is CO2 capture and storage and what could its applications be?
- 1.2 What role could CO2 capture and storage play in the fight against climate change?
1.1 What is CO2 capture and storage and what could its applications be?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a
greenhouse gas that occurs
naturally in the
activities are increasing the concentration of CO2 in
the atmosphere thus contributing to Earth’s global warming.
CO2 is emitted when fuel is burnt – be it in large
power plants, in car engines, or in heating systems. It can also
be emitted by some other industrial processes, for instance when
resources are extracted and processed, or when forests are
Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is one of the
techniques that could be used to reduce
emissions from human activities. It could be applied to
emissions from large power plants or industrial
The process involves three main steps:
- capturing CO2, at its source, by separating
it from other gases produced by an industrial process
- transporting the captured CO2 to a suitable
storage location (typically in compressed form)
- storing the CO2 away from the
atmosphere for a long
period of time, for instance in underground geological
formations, in the deep ocean, or within certain mineral
Some of the technologies needed for this process are more
mature than others. By mid-2005, three commercial projects had
already been implemented that store
captured in underground geological formations as part of oil and
gas extraction or processing projects.
1.2 What role could CO2 capture and storage play in the fight against climate change?
Most scenarios for global
energy use project a substantial increase of
emissions throughout this century in the absence of specific
actions to mitigate
climate change. They also
suggest that the supply of primary energy will continue to be
dominated by fossil fuels
until at least the middle of the century.
Therefore, techniques to capture and store the
produced combined with other technological options could play a
role in the fight against
However, no single technology option will provide all of the
emission reductions needed to stabilize
concentrations in the
atmosphere at a level that
prevents dangerous interference with the climate system.
Other technological options to stabilize
concentrations in the
- reducing energy demand by increasing energy
- switching to less carbon-intensive fuels (from coal to
natural gas, for example),
- increasing the use of renewable energy sources and/or
nuclear energy (each of which, on balance, emit little or no
- enhancing natural
carbon sinks (such as
- reducing greenhouse gases other than CO2
capture and storage would be an option for developed countries
which need to reduce CO2 emissions and have
significant sources of CO2 suitable for capture,
access to storage sites and experience with oil or gas
operations. But there are many barriers to deployment in
developing countries. Creating conditions that would facilitate
diffusion of this technology to developing countries would,
therefore, be a major issue for the adoption of CO2
capture and storage worldwide.