CCS needs rapid and widespread deployment
We need to move from the successful small-scale CCS projects in operation today to building 3,400 commercial scale projects worldwide by 2050 if CCS is to provide 20% of the CO2 reductions needed*.
We are heading towards irreversible climate change
Too much CO2 in our atmosphere is leading to global warming which is causing climate change. The world's leading scientists have warned that unless the rise in average global temperature is kept below 2°C, devastating and irreversible climate change will occur.
More people need more energy
Every day, we use energy and every day and we ask for more. And with the global population set to rise from 7 to 9 billion by 2050, world energy demand is expected to increase by 50% over the next 20 years alone.
We rely on fossil fuels
Fossil fuels still supply 80% of our energy and we emit enormous quantities of CO2 when we burn them. Today, renewable energies provide only 13% of our energy and this could climb to 30% by 2020. But the fact remains fossil fuels will remain our principle source of energy for decades to come.
Fossil fuels power the largest emitters of CO2
Fossil fuel power-plants, heavy industry and refineries are the largest emitters of CO2, accounting for 52% of global emissions, or around 15 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. It is these large fixed emitters that need to be most urgently addressed.
Energy consumption is going to continue
to rise while CO2 emissions need to come down - fast
How do we meet this challenge?
- Energy efficiency
- Renewable energy
- CO2 Capture & Storage (CCS)
The solution is a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy and CCS. It isn’t possible to achieve EU or global CO2 reduction targets without CCS – providing 20% of the cuts required in the EU by 2030 and 20% of the global cuts required by 2050. CCS is the only available technology that can capture at least 90% of emissions from the world's largest emitters.
So how do we capture, transport and safely store CO2 underground?
There are three main technologies that can be used to capture at least 90% of the CO2 emitted:
We already transport CO2 by pipeline and ships are used when a source of CO2 is too far from a suitable storage area.
The widespread deployment of CCS will require the development of an equivalent and extensive CO2 pipeline network.
Safe and permanent storage using natural mechanisms
Compressed liquid-like CO2 is pumped deep underground into one of two types of CO2 storage reservoir:
- Deep saline aquifers, which are found between 700 and 3000m underground
- Depleted oil and gas fields, found as deep as 5000m below the earth's surface
By storing CO2 underground, we are using a natural process that has trapped CO2, gas and oil for millions of years. Both oil and gas fields and deep saline aquifers have the same key geological features required for CO2 storage: a layer of porous rock to absorb the liquid CO2 and an impermeable layer of cap rock which seals the porous layer underneath, trapping the CO2.
The safety of stored CO2 actually increases over time
Once injected into the porous rock layer, there are three natural trapping mechanisms which ensure that the safety of CO2 storage increases over time.
Some of the injected CO2 becomes trapped in the tiny pores of the rocks and simply cannot move, even under pressure
A portion of the CO2 dissolves into the surrounding salt water.
After dissolution, some of the heavy CO2-rich water sinks to the bottom of the reservoir, where over time it may react to form minerals such as those found in limestone.
Rigorous monitoring from beginning to end
To ensure that a CO2 storage site functions as it should, a rigorous monitoring process begins at the reservoir selection stage and continues for as long as required.
The well, cap rock and adjacent rock formations are monitored for changes in pressure and CO2 concentration levels. The systems used ensure that response times are swift and decisive action can be taken when necessary. Monitoring continues even after a CO2 injection well is closed and EU law requires that CO2 is safely and permanently kept underground.