Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

What is it?

CCS is the process of capturing waste/excess carbon dioxide from large point sources (such as fossil fuel power plants) and transporting it to sites where it can be stored in such a way that it cannot re-enter the atmosphere. Usually captured carbon dioxide is stored in underground rock formations.

Does it work?

There are concerns that this carbon dioxide may leak from its storage place through the soil to the Earth’s surface. This would counteract the effectiveness of CCS as a climate change mitigation strategy. Leakages from injection pipes are usually more of a risk than once the emissions are in their storage space. Nevertheless, while this is an issue, studies suggest that over 99% of the carbon dioxide injected into rock formations will stay there for over 1000 years.

Is it expensive?

While some partial and pilot developments exist, there is no full-scale commercially viable example of CCS. Therefore, the costs of this technology are hard to gauge. Critics claim that CCS is yet unproven and likely decades away from being commercially viable. Others suggest that targeted investment would bring forward the date of commercial viability considerably. Another consideration is that, in order to install the CCS technology, a power plant’s energy demand would rise by 25-40%. While this would also increase the plant’s emissions, it would increase its costs too.

Where has it been tried?

CCS projects are underway or in the pipeline in Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.