Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage

How to Make Carbon Capture Work for You

Carbon capture and storage is a process that removes carbon dioxide from a natural gas or industrial plant and then stores the captured CO2 underground. The CO2 is then injected into geologic formations called reservoirs, which release the CO2 into the atmosphere when the reservoirs are full.

Carbon capture is an important technology because CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas have increased by 15% since 1990.

The capture of CO2 from industrial and natural gas plants is a key part of addressing climate change and reducing the effects of global warming.

In this post, we’ll discuss how carbon capture and storage works and the impact it could have on climate change.

Understanding How Carbon Capture and Storage Works

Carbon capture and storage works by removing CO2 from a source, such as an industrial power plant, a natural gas processing plant, or an oil and gas drilling site. The captured CO2 is then injected into long-term geologic reservoirs located thousands of meters deep underground. Companies like are working to provide viable solutions for all stages of carbon capture and storage.

The Impact of Carbon Capture and Storage on Climate Change

Carbon capture and storage could have a significant impact on reducing climate change. While reducing emissions from fossil fuels is crucial to combating climate change, there are a limited number of ways to reduce emissions. Carbon capture has been identified as one of these options because it could be an effective way to reduce emissions from large amounts of fossil-fuel burning sources such as coal-fired power plants and natural gas transmission pipelines.

The important thing to note here is that without carbon capture, industrial facilities burning fossil fuels would emit almost as much CO2 into the atmosphere as would be released by removing all of the CO2 from these facilities’ exhaust streams. It would triple the emissions.
In other words, carbon capture would allow industrial companies to continue producing electricity and transportation fuel at the lowest cost while also retaining enough CO2 in the atmosphere to mitigate, or even reverse, some of the adverse effects of climate change.

There are two types of carbon capture technologies used in industrial facilities: Direct Air Capture and Direct Solvent Extraction (DES). The most promising form of carbon capture is direct air capture. This technology captures CO2 directly from an industrial facility’s exhaust stream and then stores the captured CO2 in a sequestration facility.

Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, storing CO2 increases atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases by burying it underground. Unlike fossil fuel-burning power plants, where emissions can be reduced by capturing and sequestering emissions before they enter the atmosphere, DES seeks to reduce emissions after they have already entered the atmosphere.

This means that DES captures heat from industrial facilities and turns it into electricity, but doesn’t generate electricity.

Direct Air Capture can reduce emissions from power plants by about 1.4% for every 1% reduction in electricity demand (that is, 1% less electricity generated than coal-fired power plants emit). The benefits of Direct Air Capture are significant and immediate. But DES faces challenges at the commercial scale and has seen limited success among test projects.

However, preliminary research shows that DES is still the best method for capturing most CO2 emissions from refineries, cement factories, and other industrial facilities.

How can we use Direct Air Capture to reduce emissions?

The key is to make it commercially viable, getting the price right. For example, Direct Air Capture is not very cost-effective when electricity demand is low or rises slowly. If electricity demand rises significantly during peak generating hours, CO2 prices will spike, which will make Direct Air Capture less attractive than renewables.

On the other hand, if electricity demand falls during off-peak hours, then by reducing air conditioning during the day in response to a price spike on electricity, we can save money and increase our climate emissions reduction potential.

Not Ready Yet?

The technology isn’t mature enough yet to make it commercially viable at low demand increases and high prices, but we can still have the discussion. It is a good way to compare it with other ideas that aim to reduce our climate emissions.

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