International experts agree that carbon capture & storage (CCS) is a crucial mid-to-long term solution to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2100. However, there are still many steps to be taken. Current CCS volumes must increase by 300 percent to achieve the 2050 targets.
CCS is a key component of the International Energy Agency. According to it, CCS could be a significant contributor to global fossil-fuel 2 emission reductions by 2060. It would be the third most efficient driver after energy efficiency (40%) and new renewables (35%). It won’t be easy to create a strong industry on par with the oil and gas industry.
This result can only be achieved if CCS technology development is accelerated. The IEA’s latest report on net-zero by 2050 1 estimates that annual emissions must rise to 7.6 billion metric tonnes by 2050, compared to 40 million metric tonnes in 2020. This means that the capacity must be increased almost 200 times! The IEA recommends that 95% of the CO2 captured to be stored underground and the remaining 5% be used to make biofuel (see Close-up: Three Carbon Utilization Methods).
The IEA is an agency established in the framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It appeals to its member countries because it believes their leadership is essential to lead this drive.
CCS operations can be considered industrial scale if they capture more than 800,000 metric tonnes of CO 2 annually.
These operations can be carried out in many different sectors.
- In 1996, a carbon capture program began at the Sleipner natural-gas site in the North Sea. Natural gas can sometimes contain CO 2, making it difficult to liquefy or sell. The carbon dioxide is then separated from natural gas and pumped underground. Since 1996, 17.3 million metric tons of CO 2 have been re-injected in an undersea aquifer.
- A CCS facility was established at Boundary Dam, Saskatchewan’s coal-fired power station. It opened in 2014. To increase oil and gas extraction well output, CO 2 is sold. This carbon utilization is crucial to CCS’s profitability. This technology usually requires one-third of the power of a plant, so selling CO 2 can partially offset this shortfall. Experts say that EOR can only contribute 10% towards carbon reduction goals.
- In 2015, Saudi Arabia began recovering CO2 at its Uthmaniyah liquefied natural gas (LNG) treatment plants.
- CCS technology was first applied to high-emission industrial facilities like steel and cement plants in 2016. An Emirates Steel project in Abu Dhabi can capture 800,000.00 metric tons of carbon dioxide from its steelworks operations and compress it before sending it to an oil field 50 km away. This technique is being used by a new project in Chicago, USA, which is the first bioenergies in history. It is located in a plant where maize can be transformed into ethanol.
- Texas has seen the installation of the largest ever system to control a coal-fired power station. The Petra Nova Project made it possible to capture over 1.5 million metric tonnes of CO 2 annually. The carbon dioxide is also injected into oil wells. This was done in the vicinity of the West Ranch oilfield. The project promoters claim that the increased pressure from injecting CO 2 could result in a 50-fold increase in production (300 to 15,000 barrels per hour).
The Global CCS Institute maintains a regularly updated database on all CCS facilities, large and small.