Coal, oil and gas as far as you can see
CCS is the fossil fuel industry’s bid for a solution to the climate problem. CCS is often called a transition technology – a bridging technology – into a distant future when the world may switch to renewable energy.
ccs-info.org discusses a number of issues related to CCS.
CCS is not a single but a complex of technologies aimed at capturing CO2 at power plants or large industries for subsequent storage underground.
CCS is currently still in its pilot stage, but slowly on the way to the demonstration stage. Energy companies and many politicians still envisage a vital role for CCS in the fight against climate change. For many years CCS was linked mostly to electricity generation at coal-fired power plants but today industrial CCS attracts much interest.
Unsolved problems and unanswered questions
The idea of CCS, however, raises a number of problems and issues. Among the most important are:
· Timing – will CCS be able to deliver the required CO2 reductions within the required time frame?
· Environmental effects – the predominant fuel of the CCS technology will inevitably be coal, which in itself has serious environmental effects. CCS will only increase these effects.
· Climate effects – CCS does not remove all CO2 emissions from a plant. The amount of CO2 that is not removed will in itself have huge climate effects.
· Economics – the technology is extremely expensive.
· Financing – the private sector is unlikely to pay for the development of CCS. Taxpayers all over the world are assumed to provide crucial financial support.
· Liability – future generations will inherit the CO2 storage sites and costs associated with monitoring, maintenance and remediation of spills and leakages.
· Energy planning – CCS has the potential to be a significant competitor to renewable energy technologies in all stages from research and development over demonstration to production and sale. CCS does not play well together with an energy system that must integrate more and more intermittent renewable energy.
On this website we will attempt to throw some light on these issues. We do not pretend to know all the answers. But we have seen it as a challenge to call attention to a number of unresolved problems and unanswered questions that the CCS technology raises.
What is CCS?
CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage or Carbon Capture and Sequestration) consists of a number of complex technologies tied together to capture the CO2 from e.g. a coal power plant, compress it and transport it and finally inject it into the underground.
It requires geological formations which are sufficiently porous for the CO2 to be stored. At the same time there must be a dense layer above the storage to prevent the CO2 from seeping upwards, causing environmental adverse effects and eventually escape into the atmosphere.
A climate tool?
CCS is presented by supporters as a climate tool, by which you can store many decades of emissions of CO2. CCS has had much political tailwind, which is undoubtedly related to the fact that there are huge economic interests at stake. For companies and countries dependant on coal, oil and gas, CCS is a golden opportunity to continue the black industry.
If CCS is chosen as a major strategy to reduce carbon emissions from large coal fuelled plants, nearly 90% of emissions expected between 2010 and 2050 from these plants would still reach the atmosphere, according to a new report from NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark.
The pdf-version of the report is available from this link: An Assessment of Cumulative CO2 Reductions from CCS