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CO2 Capture and Storage

2. What sources of CO2 emissions are suitable for capture and storage?

  • 2.1 What are the characteristics of suitable emission sources?
  • 2.2 To what extent could future CO2 emissions be captured?

2.1 What are the characteristics of suitable emission sources?

The Gibson coal power plant, a large stationary
The Gibson coal power plant, a good example of a large stationary source.
Source: John Blair, 

Several factors determine whether carbon dioxide capture is a viable option for a particular emission source:

  • the size of the emission source,
  • whether it is stationary or mobile,
  • how near it is to potential storage sites, and
  • how concentrated its CO2 emissions are.

CO2 could be captured from large stationary emission sources such as power plants or industrial facilities. If such facilities are located near potential storage sites, for example suitable geological formations, they are possible candidates for the early implementation of CO2 capture and storage (CCS).

Small or mobile emission sources in homes, businesses or transportation are not being considered at this stage because they are not suitable for capture and storage.

In 2000, close to 60% of the CO2 emissions due to the use of fossil fuels were produced by large stationary emission sources, such as power plants and oil and gas extraction or processing industries (see Table TS.2 for details).

Four major clusters of emissions from such stationary emission sources are: the Midwest and eastern USA, the northwestern part of Europe, the eastern coast of China and the Indian subcontinent (see Figure TS.2a).

Large-scale biomass conversion facilities, for instance for the production of bio-ethanol, also generate emissions with high CO2 content. Though such facilities are much smaller and rarer, they could also be suitable for CO2 capture and storage.

Many stationary emission sources lie either directly above, or within reasonable distance (less than 300km) from areas with potential for geological storage (see Figures T.S. 2a/2b). More...

2.2 To what extent could future CO2 emissions be captured?

Considering different emission scenarios, the projected potential of CO2 capture is 9–12% of global CO2 emissions in 2020, and 21–45% in 2050.

Moreover, within several decades, energy carriers such as electricity or hydrogen, which do not emit carbon when used, could potentially begin replacing fossil fuels currently used by small, distributed sources in homes, businesses or transportation.

These energy carriers could be produced from fossil fuels and/or biomass in large centralized plants that would generate large point sources of CO2 suitable for carbon dioxide capture. Such applications could reduce dispersed CO2 emissions from transport and from distributed energy supply systems increasing the potential of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS). More...

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