What Is Carbon Capture And Storage Energy Use?

What is carbon capture and storage?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to a set of technologies that capture carbon dioxide emissions from sources like power plants and industrial facilities, transport the CO2 via ships or pipelines, and inject it deep underground for secure long-term storage (National Grid, 2023). The goal of CCS is to prevent large quantities of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, thereby mitigating global warming.

CCS involves three main steps: capturing the carbon dioxide, transporting it, and securely storing it deep underground in geological formations like depleted oil and gas fields or deep saline aquifers. By capturing CO2 at the source and storing it underground, CCS technology can reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel use (BGS, n.d.).

How does CCS work?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a process that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from sources like coal power plants and either reuses it or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere (Nationalgrid.com). The goal of CCS is to prevent large quantities of CO2 from being released into the air and causing climate change.

CCS is a three-step process:

  1. Capture: The CO2 produced at large point sources like fossil fuel power plants is captured from the source.
  2. Transport: The captured CO2 is compressed and transported via pipeline, ship, rail or truck to a suitable storage site.
  3. Storage: The CO2 is injected deep underground for secure and permanent storage in geological formations like depleted oil and gas fields or deep saline aquifer formations (BGS.ac.uk).

By capturing CO2 at its emission source and preventing its release into the atmosphere, CCS technology provides a way to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate global warming. The combination of these three key steps allows for environmentally sustainable use of fossil fuels while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Where is CCS used?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is primarily used in the following main industries and applications:

Fossil fuel power plants: CCS can capture CO2 emissions from coal and natural gas power plants before they are released into the atmosphere. This allows fossil fuels to continue being used for energy production while reducing their climate impact. Many pilot projects have demonstrated CCS at power plants.

ccs can capture emissions from power plants, industrial processes, hydrogen production, bioenergy, direct air capture, and enhanced oil recovery

Industrial processes like cement and steel production also generate significant CO2 emissions that can be captured using CCS technology. Retrofitting plants with CCS can reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors.

Hydrogen production: CCS is crucial for “blue” hydrogen made from natural gas to have low carbon emissions. Capturing the CO2 makes blue hydrogen much cleaner.

Bioenergy: Combining bioenergy like biomass energy plants with CCS (BECCS) results in negative emissions, since CO2 is removed from the air via plants and then captured and stored underground.

Direct air capture (DAC): DAC facilities use chemical scrubbers to capture CO2 directly from ambient air. Coupling DAC with permanent underground storage can remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Enhanced oil recovery: Injecting captured CO2 into oil reservoirs can boost crude oil extraction. While not reducing emissions, this provides an economic incentive for CCS deployment.

CCS Methods

There are three main technologies for carbon capture and storage (Nationalgrid.com):

  • Post-combustion capture – This involves separating CO2 from the flue gases produced after fuel combustion. The CO2 is then compressed and transported for storage. This can be applied to new and existing power plants.
  • Pre-combustion capture – The fuel is converted to hydrogen and CO2 before combustion. The CO2 is captured and stored, while the hydrogen is burnt in turbines or fuel cells. This requires an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant.
  • Oxyfuel combustion – The fuel is burnt in oxygen instead of air, producing mainly CO2 and water vapor. The water vapor is condensed, leaving pure CO2 that can be captured and stored. This requires modifications to the boiler and air separation unit.

These methods allow the capture of CO2 from large stationary sources like power plants and industrial facilities where it can then be compressed and transported for storage (IEA.org). The choice of technology depends on the industry and plant configuration.

Advantages of CCS

The primary benefit of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants and industrial processes. According to the International Energy Agency, CCS could reduce global CO2 emissions by 19% by 2050, which would make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change (IEA). By capturing CO2 at the source and storing it deep underground, CCS prevents the carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. This has major environmental advantages in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts.

CCS applied to biomass energy systems can even achieve negative emissions, as the biomass draws CO2 from the air, which is then captured and stored underground. This CO2 removal can help offset emissions from other sectors like aviation or agriculture. CCS therefore offers a critical tool in reducing global net emissions and meeting climate change targets (Verde). The technology has received growing interest from governments and industry seeking ways to continue using fossil fuels while reducing their climate impact.

Disadvantages and challenges

While carbon capture and storage (CCS) has significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it also comes with some major drawbacks and obstacles. One of the biggest challenges of CCS is the high costs involved. The equipment, infrastructure, and energy required to capture, transport and store carbon emissions are very expensive. Building new carbon capture facilities can cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

The energy requirements of CCS are also very high. The processes of capturing, compressing and injecting carbon dioxide underground require large amounts of power. One estimate suggests capturing and storing carbon from a coal-fired power plant would increase its energy needs by 25-40%.[1] This extra energy demand results in more fuel being burned and higher operational costs.

Additionally, there are risks and uncertainties around the long-term storage of carbon underground. Though the technology exists to inject carbon dioxide into geological formations, the long-term behavior and security of these storage sites is not yet known. There are concerns about the possibility of leaks, which could allow greenhouse gases to escape back into the atmosphere.

While CCS holds promise for reducing emissions, these high costs, energy penalties, and storage risks pose major economic and technical challenges that have limited its large-scale deployment so far.

[1] https://www.eli.org/vibrant-environment-blog/carbon-capture-and-storage-history-current-state-and-obstacles-future-part-2

CCS projects around the world

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is being implemented in projects around the world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and industrial processes. According to the Global CCS Institute, there are currently 27 large-scale CCS facilities in operation globally as of 2022, with a CO2 capture capacity of around 40 million tonnes per year.

One of the largest CCS projects is the Shute Creek gas processing facility in Wyoming, USA. This facility has captured and injected over 50 million tonnes of CO2 since 1996, making it the largest carbon capture project in the world [1]. Other major CCS projects include Boundary Dam in Canada, Petra Nova in the USA, Emirates Steel Industries in the UAE, and Gorgon in Australia.

Most of the large-scale CCS facilities currently in operation are located in North America and Asia Pacific regions. However, there are also several projects in Europe, the Middle East, and South America. CCS is being applied in a range of industries including natural gas processing, power generation, steel and cement production, fertilizer manufacturing, and more.

While CCS deployment has been slower than anticipated, the number and scale of projects continues to grow globally. Supportive government policies, carbon pricing programs, and improving economics are helping drive further adoption of CCS to reduce CO2 emissions and meet climate change mitigation goals.

CCS costs

The costs of carbon capture and storage can vary substantially depending on the specific technology and application. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the primary factors impacting CCS costs include:

  • Capture process and technology
  • CO2 purification and compression
  • Transport to the sequestration site
  • Injection and storage location

The carbon capture portion alone can represent 60-80% of the total CCS cost. Post-combustion capture using amine scrubbing is the most expensive approach, with costs ranging from $60-115 per tonne CO2 captured. Pre-combustion capture, oxy-fuel combustion, and other novel technologies can be more economical. Transport and storage costs are highly variable based on factors like pipeline distance and geology.

According to Statista, the estimated levelized costs for different carbon capture technologies are $100-300 per tonne CO2 for post-combustion capture, $40-160 per tonne for pre-combustion capture, $35-115 for oxyfuel combustion, and $20-100 for direct air capture.

For CCS to become economically viable on a large scale, costs will need to decline substantially from current levels through technological innovation and economies of scale. Most experts estimate CCS will need to achieve costs below $100 per tonne captured to be competitive.

Future of CCS

The future looks promising for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Projections show substantial growth in CCS adoption over the coming decades as countries work to meet their net zero emissions targets. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CCS deployment needs to scale up rapidly, with annual CO2 capture rising from around 40Mt today to 1.6Gt in 2030 and 7.6Gt in 2050 [1]. This represents a 100-fold increase over current levels.

Many new CCS facilities are in development globally. The IEA highlights over 30 new commercial facilities that could be operational by 2026 [2]. Governments are also putting in place incentives and policies to accelerate CCS growth. For example, the US Inflation Reduction Act includes significant tax credits for both carbon capture and direct air capture projects [3]. With sustained policy support and public and private investment, CCS is positioned to play a key role in decarbonization efforts this century.


In summary, carbon capture and storage is an important set of technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from large stationary sources like power plants and industrial facilities. By capturing CO2 from these sources and preventing it from entering the atmosphere, CCS can help mitigate climate change while still allowing for fossil fuel use.

The key methods of CCS involve capturing CO2 either before or after combustion of fossil fuels, transporting it via pipeline, then injecting it deep underground for secure geologic storage. While CCS requires substantial investment and energy use, it is one of the few options available today that can deeply decarbonize some of the most carbon-intensive human activities.

CCS is still a developing field with some technical challenges, but many successful demonstration projects around the world show its feasibility and potential. With continued research, development, and political and economic support, CCS could play a major role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions during the critical upcoming decades as the world transitions toward a low-carbon energy system.

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