3 December 2012 – Although currently negligible in prominence, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could be the technology that makes the world’s carbon emission reduction targets achievable, says energy expert GlobalData. CCS techniques, such as enhanced oil recovery, have been used in the energy sector for decades, but only recently has the concept of long term carbon storage been viewed as a viable means of reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from power plants.
Correspondingly, a modest 238 MW of CCS capacity was installed globally at the end of 2011, but according to current government plans and other initiatives, a far more substantial 10 GW is expected to come online by the end of the decade.
CCS refers to the technology of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) before or after the combustion of fossil fuels (gas or coal), transporting it and pumping it into underground geological formations. This process prevents large quantities of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere by securely storing it between impermeable rock or similar material.
China, the US, Australia, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK have invested heavily in CCS research and development activities and are the global leaders in the industry; however, there are currently no large-scale CCS demonstration projects active for coal-fired plants.
Governments around the world are showing a lack of commitment in significantly reducing fossil fuel consumption, and so CCS could prove the most realistic answer to one of the greatest predicaments of our time. However, this technology must be employed much more widely in order for CCS to make the level of impact its potential suggests.