What is Carbon Capture?

Imagine a situation in which all the oxygen is sucked out of the air and is then it is buried in the ground. Sounds pretty surreal right? Well, yes, if we’re discussing oxygen. However, scientists are working on a way to do just that with carbon dioxide. Why capture carbon dioxide from the air? To tackle global warming.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is natural gas that permits sunlight to reach the Earth but also stops some of the sun’s heat from being transferred back into space, in turn, warming the planet. Scientists refer to this as warming the greenhouse effect. When t­his process happens naturally, it warms the Earth enough to sustain life. So, if we had no greenhouse effect, our planet would then be an average temperature of minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is CCS’s capability for tackling climate change?

As it stands, CCS is the one form of technology that can help really lower emissions from large industrial installations. It could be a crucial technology for dealing with global climate change. When this is mixed with bioenergy technologies for power generation (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage), CCS has the possibility to generate so-called ‘negative emissions’ in a process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Lots of scientists and policymakers argue that this is essential if the world is to limit temperature rise to under 2°C.

The International Energy Agency states that a tenfold increase in capacity is required by 2025 to be on track for meeting that target and the Global CCS Institute estimates that 2,500 CCS facilities would need to be in created by 2040.

Are there any drawbacks to carbon capture and storage?

To conclude, the capture process can be costly due to high deployment and energy costs. A plant with CCS uses more fuel than one without, to extract, pump and compress the CO2. The cost of CCS can range significantly between processes: where CO2 is already produced separately in concentrated streams, for example in fertiliser manufacturing, the fee is lower, but for processes that don’t do this, such as cement production and power generation, the cost is much higher. Moreover, research and development efforts are trying to reduce the cost, and the price of avoiding a tonne of CO2 has already declined significantly. In the UK, the Government-commissioned Oxburgh Review argued that ‘CCS is essential for lowest cost decarbonisation’.

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