Carbon Recycling: An Alternative to Carbon Capture and Storage
- R. Oloman
- Document ID
- Petroleum Society of Canada
- Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 14 - 15
- 2009. Petroleum Society of Canada (now Society of Petroleum Engineers)
- 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.3.4 Scale, 7.4.5 Future of energy/oil and gas, 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing, 6.5.7 Climate Change, 6.5.3 Waste Management
- carbon recycling, carbon capture and storage (CCS)
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Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is being hailed as the answer to the globe's most pressing question: what to do with the 27 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted yearly from the burning of fossil fuels? Touted as the most promising interim solution to deal with the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, CCS still remains unproven, costly and will not be commercially available for another 10 to 20 years. Meanwhile, scientists are exploring alternatives to CCS by capitalizing on CO2 as a commodity instead of treating it as a waste.
Twenty-seven billion tons of CO2 is already a hefty number, but energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to reach 43 billion metric tons per year by 2030; an increase of 60%. A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that growing energy demands from emerging giants like China and India, coupled with a lack of cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuels, means that by 2050, 77% of the world's power will still be derived from fossil fuels(1).
"We will require immediate policy action and a technological transition on an unprecedented scale," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said in Tokyo after releasing the report.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), the process of capturing carbon dioxide and storing it in deep geological formations in the ocean or as mineral carbonates, is being promoted by the IEA and others as the most promising technology to deal with fossil fuel derived emissions. Not negating the role of alternative energies, the IEA is merely realistic about the enduring use of fossil fuels and the urgent need to deal with the resulting carbon dioxide.
Addressing Carbon Capture and Storage
On May 15th, 2009, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced at the National Coal Council that US$2.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to expand and accelerate the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage technology, including financing to train a generation of engineers and geologists to work in the field.
Chu said, :To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate our efforts to capture and store carbon in a safe and cost-effective way." Governments in Europe, Australia, Canada and China are also strongly investing in the technology. Nevertheless, several massive hurdles still stand in the way of full-scale CCS deployment.
UK consulting firm, McKinsey, figures that adding CCS to the next generation of European power plants could boost their price by up to US$1.3 billion each. Their thorough analysis(2) shows that the typical cost of a demonstration project is likely to be in the range of US$80 ? $120 per tonne of CO2 sequestered.
Legally, there are concerns over whether CO2 transport and long-term storage present human or ecosystem related risks, and who is ultimately responsible if a leak occurs. While progress is underway in some countries, no country has yet developed the comprehensive, detailed legal and regulatory framework that is necessary to effectively govern the use of CCS.
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