Carbon Storage

DOES CCS REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND REDUCE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE?

Globally, coal- and natural gas-based power plants are expected to remain some of the largest sources of electricity generation into the future. Fossil fuels will therefore continue to play a critical role in electricity generation in the U.S. and throughout the world. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of many approaches that will be counted on to significantly reduce domestic and global CO2 emissions.

Many organizations have recognized the opportunity for CCS technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA), the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Program (IEA GHG), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others, have endorsed CCS technology. According to the 2005 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS is a critical GHG mitigation technology that can contribute up to 55% of the cumulative global mitigation effort. The 2013 International Energy Agency (IEA) Global CCS Roadmap predicts that CCS contributions to both coal and natural gas must amount to 14% of cumulative CO2 emissions reductions required through 2050 in order to adequately stabilize atmospheric levels of CO2.

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The figure shows how different technologies contribute to meeting the energy sector target of cutting CO2 emissions by more than half by 2050. IEA projects that CCS will contribute 14% of total emission reductions through 2050. (click to enlarge)

In order to attain significant emissions reductions, the total CO2 capture and storage rate must grow from the tens of megatonnes of CO2 captured in 2013 to thousands of megatonnes of CO2 by 2050 according to the IEA.

Carbon capture and storage is an important component of the broad portfolio of approaches and technologies that will be needed if climate change is to be successfully addressed. CCS could also allow fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, to remain part of the world’s energy mix, by limiting the emissions from their use.

Myth: Carbon capture and storage will not be effective in reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
Reality: Several studies indicate the significant impact CCS is expected to have in mitigating CO2 emissions for energy producing and industrial sources moving forward.