(The main steps of CCS processes: capture, transportation, storage )
Many human activities rely on the combustion of fossil fuels, such as road and air transportation, and power stations. Carbon dioxide emissions are released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. The increasing emission of carbon dioxide is responsible for environmentally global warming. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a mitigation technology to avoid carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere by capturing and burying CO2. It can help limit CO2 emissions and allow for the continued use of fossil fuels.
CCS is also known as carbon sequestration. It involves three processes in the CCS technology. First, capturing the CO2 produced from industrial or power generation processes, at a specific installation, and liquefied it. Second, transport the CO2 to an underground geological formation which is suitable geological formations, such as deep underground saline aquifers or disused oil fields. The later method is also used in “Enhanced Oil Recovery”, where CO2 pushing the remaining oil .
CCS is critically dependent on comprehensive policy support. This is because, in contrast to renewable energy, CCS generates no revenue. And it is expensive to install and operate. The International Energy Agency has released a paper “A Policy Strategy for Carbon Capture and Storage”. This guide aims to assist the development of CCS from its early stages through to wide-scale deployment of the technology .
Because the weak support for the CCS technology, two carbon capture and storage projects in Germany and Britain were canceled in 2011 and many of the remaining projects will probably share that fate this year. The imperilment is a mix of regulatory objections, a lack of money, public opposition to the possible geological risks and broader uncertainty about strategies to slow climate change. While the technology enjoys political and financial support in many countries, including United States and Canada, the United States has four operational projects, with three more under construction and 18 planned; and Canada has one operational and two under construction, with three awaiting final decisions and three in the planning stage .
CCS is still a very expensive process now. The high expenses and untested technology would make it less attractive. It is hoped that technological developments will eventually reduce the costs associated with CCS technology and the comprehensive policy would incentive commercial investment in CCS. As a promising technology to mitigate climate change without sacrificing the reliability and affordability of fossil fuels, it is well worth supporting and developing the CCS projects.
(1) Figure: “Carbon Capture and Storage”, <http://wiki.dickinson.edu/index.php/Carbon_Capture_and_Storage>
(2) “Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)”, Congressional Research Service, June 19, 2009 <http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33801.pdf>
(3) “A Policy Strategy for Carbon Capture and Storage”, International Energy Agency, January 2012, <http://www.iea.org/papers/2012/policy_strategy_for_ccs.pdf>
(4) “Growing Doubts in Europe on Future of Carbon Storage”, the New York Times, January 16, 2012, <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/technology/17iht-rbog-ccs17.html>