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Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS)

With 70% of global energy demand currently met through the burning of carbon-based fuels, and demand predicted to double by 20351, the world faces a growing challenge: How to reduce carbon dioxide emissions which cause climate change while not damaging a global economy dependent on fossil fuels.  A central issue to this carbon emissions problem is the fact that approximately 8,200 large stationary sources of CO2 worldwide, such as coal and natural gas-fired power plants, oil and gas production facilities and other large industrial plants generating 14.7 billion tonnes of annual emissions, or half of all total global anthropogenic CO2 emissions2.

As such, to deal effectively with the issue of climate change, these existing large sources of emissions must be addressed.  In its Fifth Assessment Report entitled Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognized carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a key part of the mix of various technologies necessary to solve this challenge and reduce the impacts of climate change3.  The process of CCS, shown in the figure below, involves selectively removing CO2 from the effluent gases of a power plant or other industrial source and permanently storing the emissions deep underground, most commonly in saline formations.  The IPPC has previously estimated that there is at least 2 trillion tonnes of CO2 storage capacity in appropriate geological formations globally4.  Based on this, there is approximately 136 years of storage for present worldwide large-source CO2 emissions.

Geologic Sequestration of CO2 5

As governments around the globe begin to grapple with the magnitude of the climate change challenge, CCS will increasingly play an important role as a key mitigation option.

 

 

 

1U.S. Energy Information Administration
2International Energy Agency (IEA) GHG Program; large source defined as >100,000 tonnes-CO2 emissions annually
3http://www.globalccsinstitute.com/news/institute-updates/role-ccs-explained-latest-ipcc-report 
4
IPCC, Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, 2005 (http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srccs/srccs_wholereport.pdf)
5
Government of Alberta