Lifting the lid on carbon capture
28 Sep 2023
Published in: Member News
While increasing efforts to reduce carbon emissions is vital to tackling global warming, we must also accelerate these efforts by deploying technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere.
While increasing efforts to reduce carbon emissions is vital to tackling global warming, we must also accelerate these efforts by deploying technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of these technologies.
How does CCS work?
The purpose of carbon capture is to prevent CO2 released by industrial processes, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal from entering the atmosphere. The process involves three steps:
CO2 is separated from other gases released by industrial processes, such as coal and natural-gas-fired power generation plants
CO2 is compressed and transported via pipelines, road transport or ships, to be stored.
The CO2 is injected into rock formations deep underground for permanent storage. According to the British Government, the North Sea is the most suitable storage site as it contains many empty oil and gas reservoirs, as well as permeable rocks called saline aquifers.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage
There is also a related concept known as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) which describes the re-use of carbon emitted by industrial processes by converting it into other materials e.g., plastics, concrete or biofuel.
Where is CCS being used?
According to a Global CCS Institute 2022 report, there were 61 new facilities added to the project pipeline bringing the total number of global CCS facilities to 194. However, only 30 of these are in operation, with 11 under construction and the remaining 153 in various stages of development. Of the total number of projects, 27 are based in the UK. None of these are in operation. The CO2 capture capacity of all CCS facilities under development grew to 244 million tonnes per annum – a significant increase of 44% compared to 2022.
UK Government plans
Carbon capture power plants – power stations equipped with carbon capture technology - form part of the Government’s plans to remove carbon from UK electricity production by 2035. It was proposed that the first plant will be built by the mid-2020s. In March 2023, the Government agreed to funding three carbon capture facilities near Redcar on Teesside that would transport captured CO2 to the North Sea for storage. One plant will capture carbon from a gas-fired power station and the other two from hydrogen production. There is also development of carbon clusters – hubs where different industrial processes can plug into the same CO2 pipes and storage systems.
The cost of CCS
The infrastructure required for CCS is expensive and there are some who believe renewables and power storage would be better investments. Particularly as none of the Government’s proposed carbon capture plants claims to capture more than 2m tonnes a year – a very small percentage of the 331.5Mt of CO2 emitted by the UK in 2022. However, there is hope that the price might fall over time in the same way that it has for renewable energy in the last decade. Dr Doug Parr of campaign group Greenpeace UK argues that the power stations are “another excuse for the Government to show preference to their friends in the oil and gas industry, making energy more expensive to everyone else's disadvantage.”
If you need help starting your carbon neutral journey, we’re here to help. In partnership with Auditel, we’re on our own carbon neutral journey and would like to extend this service to our clients. For further guidance on reducing carbon emissions without the usual associated costs, please contact our Client Relationship Managers, Nigel Addison-Evans and John Loizou. Contact Nigel on 07500 027480 or email him at email@example.com Contact John on 07425 102 023 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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