Tackling climate change
The overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists – and governments – agree that climate change is occurring and that the main cause is human use of fossil fuels. Storing carbon dioxide (CO2) is much safer than the current option of emitting it into the atmosphere. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will allow us to continue using fossil fuels while also substantially reducing emissions of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
Rapidly developing countries will continue to be reliant on fossil fuels to provide energy for continued growth and development. To maintain secure, low carbon electricity, developing countries will need to harness the flexibility of fossil fuel electricity generation as more intermittent renewables and inflexible nuclear come onto the grid.
While renewables, nuclear power and improvements in energy efficiency will play an increasing role in moving the world towards a low carbon economy, they cannot be the complete answer. CCS gives us the flexibility to deploy other low-carbon technologies – making our energy supplies more secure and reliable. In order to keep the lights on, we will need fossil-derived electricity.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that energy demand could increase by as much as 45% by 2030. Much of this will be met by fossil fuels – for example, in the developing world, around two new coal-fired power stations are opened every week. CCS will decarbonise energy, generating low carbon power to help meet increasing energy demand.
CCS is not only applicable to fossil fuel power plant, but can also be applied to any large industrial sources of carbon dioxide, such as cement, steel and chemical industries. In some sectors, CCS represents the sole option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the scale necessary.
CCS combined with burning biomass for energy could result in negative carbon dioxide emissions. As plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If they are then burnt and the carbon dioxide captured and stored, there is a net reduction in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that to have a reasonable chance that global average temperature increases do not exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C, then global carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by between 50 – 85 % by 2050. To achieve this will require the application of all available low-carbon technologies at a scale and rate far greater than current efforts.
This animation demonstrates the CCS Chain: Fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. The carbon dioxide produced in the process is captured, transported by pipeline, and then stored safely underground. This process helps in the fights against climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.