New carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies offer an opportunity for the significant reduction in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere with the aim of combating the increasing dangers of climate change.
Speaking at a presentation at Engineers Ireland HQ in Dublin, Sinéad Treanor, project manager and technology co-ordinator on the ESB's CCS project, outlined how CCS technologies have the potential to play a significant role in dealing with the ongoing effort of tackling global warming.
CCS involves capturing CO2 at the production source, such as a power station, a heavy industry manufacturing works or any place that produces large amounts of CO2, before safely transferring and storing.
Once captured at the production point, it is transported via pipeline or shipping vessel, depending on the site of the initial production, to a final permanent storage location. This location in many cases will be offshore, though this is by no means a requirement.
“This storage facility is very much like an offshore platform, as used in the oil and gas industries,” Treanor explained. “Once the CO2 arrives at this platform, it’s injected many kilometres underground into depleted oil and gas fields or saline aquifers [layers of permeable rock or sand], so allowing for safe storage.”
As the majority of the scientific community, including leading climatologists, have acknowledged, the main cause of climate change and global warming is the steadily increasing CO2 emissions generated by the continued use of fossil fuels. So, the need to develop viable technologies to combat these issues is essential for the future of the planet.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), approximately 32 billion tonnes of CO2 is currently emitted into atmosphere each year. This figure is set to rise to 62 billion tonnes by 2050, if we continue on the current path.
The intention outlined in the IEA’s 2008 report Energy Technology Perspectives is to reduce CO2 emissions to 14 billion tonnes by 2050. As Treanor made clear, this is the figure for emissions that will keep the planet on course for maintaining a global temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Centigrade, which scientists claim is the figure for manageable climate change.
The report suggests a number of different measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions, including the introduction of viable CCS technologies. The IEA estimates that such CCS technologies, if adopted appropriately, could contribute up to 20 per cent of the required emissions reduction if the 14 billion tonne figure is to be achieved by the middle of the century.
“CCS technologies continue to allow us to use fossil fuels in a responsible way. It acts as a bridging technology until renewable and electricity storage technologies are deployed on a significant scale that we don’t need fossils at all,” said Treanor.
During the presentation, she went on to explain the cost benefits of developing CCS, as well as the variety of technologies available to industries producing CO2 emissions. Click the link below to download the webcast presentation: