Fossil Fuels

CO2 capture & storage How can CCUS help combat carbon emissions?

By August 13, 2019 No Comments

The IPCC Climate Change & Land report having been released in Geneva last week, focuses on the human need for better land management to avoid continued land degradation.

With humans already having affected 70% of ice free land, food production being accountable for between 21% to 37% of global Co2 emissions & with degraded land unable to store carbon at the rate humans are producing it; the latest 7th Cycle IPCC report adds further weight to the need for global reaction to the vastly increasing emissions crisis.

One immediate action the report highlights is the need to protect natural carbon-storage systems such as forests, peat & wetlands & mangroves. With vegetation having been reported as having the capacity to absorb up to a 1/3 of Co2 from industry, there is a push by Climate Scientists to ensure that natural biodiverse solutions to ever increasing Co2 emissions are rolled out globally.

As deforestation & land degradation continues at an alarming rate, there are plenty of technological advances which are also seeking ways to combat the vast carbon emissions humans continue to produce.

Carbon capture usage & storage is a low carbon technology which captures Co2 emissions from industry & the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon is transported by pipeline & or ship to permanent underground storage. These underground storage facilities ensure that the carbon is stored naturally & does not enter the atmosphere, where it would contribute to anthropogenic climate change. (1)

With a necessity for the UK to meet it’s 2050 targets for decarbonising the power sectors, there is more & more pressure on technology & climate science to find solutions to the millions of tonnes of carbon emissions being released into our atmosphere globally.

Paul Davies, Chair of the CCUS Advisory Group said:

“Believe it or not, 2050 is not far away. The major changes to our infrastructure, how we heat our buildings and homes, how industry is powered and how we travel will take decades to roll out. Implementing CCUS underpins those changes; we need to implement the first CCUS schemes urgently to enable that transformation. The work of the CAG has been to develop the commercial framework to give confidence that industry and Government can invest at the scale we need.” (2)

With a clear focus on industry having some significant answers to the carbon capture solution & with the UK’s abilities to store 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide; the UK has the potential to be a world leader in Co2 storage services.(3)

One of the UK’s pilot projects C-Capture, a spin off technology from Leeds University, have been working on developing chemical-based systems to remove carbon from industrial sources. With £2.2m funding from the UK Government, C-Capture have been working with Drax Power station, North Yorkshire.

C-Capture & Drax, the UK’s largest renewable power station, have been developing Bioenergy Carbon Capture & Storage pilot plant, which will remove carbon dioxide from emissions produced by generating electricity from sustainable biomass.(4) The Drax pilot project was the first of it’s kind in Europe, with a capacity to recover a tonne of Co2 per day.

The Drax production facility using a proprietary solvent developed by C-Capture, has developed the technology to isolate the carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is used to generate electricity. (5)

Former Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, said:

“This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK. World-firsts like this will help us to realise our ambition of having a first operational plant by the mid-2020s as we continue to seize the opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.” (5)

However, there is now a new project being given UK Government backing.

The TATA Conglomerate plans to launch the biggest carbon capture project to date, promising the ability to remove 40,000 tonnes of carbon form the atmosphere per year & in doing so using the captured carbon to produce other products. The UK Government have given TATA a £4.2m grant towards the £16.7m cost of the project.

The TATA power plant will pipe carbon into permanent underground storage facilities, but also have developed technologies whereby they will be able to refine the carbon to make a high-grade liquid version of carbon dioxide, which can be refined into sodium bicarbonate. The Pharmaceutical industry requires vast quantities of sodium bicarbonate to make medicines which can help conditions such as heartburn.

With the latest findings of the IPCC report still resonating across the scientific & political communities & with ever growing media coverage of anthropogenic climate change; the scale of the problems facing Earth are becoming more & more evident. However, with action & reaction being at the core of the recommendations made in the latest IPCC report, we look forward to a future whereby, with international action, nature & technology have the capacity to reduce carbon emissions & go some way to reversing the affects of anthropogenic climate change.

Written by Katy-Jane Mason on behalf of Dolphin N2.