Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Overview

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technology aimed at reducing the impact of burning fossil fuels by capturing carbon dioxide and storing it somewhere, usually underground.

Carbon Capture and Storage is being used to justify new fossil fuel projects worldwide. The industry promises that new power stations will be built CCS ready, when this only means that there would be land available next to it to tack on a CCS plant if it ever became feasible. Claims that existing power stations could be retro-fitted at some point are being used to counter arguments about the need to shut them down. The idea of CCS provides the justification needed to carry on burning fossil fuels without restraint.

The technology is unproven. Methods of separating and capturing CO2 are still very experimental. CO2 from natural gas post-combustion processing has been injected into oil wells for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), but this has been at a minuscule scale compared to what would be required for CCS from power stations, and is completely different logistically.

There is also a very real danger that stored CO2 could leak. Studies suggest that if the stored CO2 were to leak at a rate of 1% per decade, CCS would not do much more than temporarily delay the effects of catastrophic climate change. A rate of 1% per century would still eventually result in potentially dangerous warming. This rules out one suggested option of unconstrained disposal in the deep ocean. It is not known whether it would possible to store CO2 underground without leaks.

There’s no time to wait for a technology that may or may not work. The Department of Energy and Climate Change say that CSS will not be ready to deploy commercially until at least the early 2020’s. We need to stop using fossil fuels now. Cuts of 6% a year in emissions are needed to have a chance of not destabilising the climate, starting now and resulting in over a 90% cut over the next few decades.

See the blog: Carbon Capture And Storage: Having Your Cake And Burning It.