With energy consumption predicted to double by 2050, the need for effective solutions to reduce carbon emissions has never been greater. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plants could be major, typically reducing emissions from by 80-90%. When used in conjunction with biomass, the technique is even claimed to be carbon negative.
While renewable energy production is expected to increase by 50% in the next 30 years, it still makes up less than 20% of total energy consumption. CCS works to halt global warming by reducing the CO2 released into the environment via industrial processes and energy production. CCS plants capture carbon dioxide gas from where it is emitted in large quantities, such as power plants, cement factories, and oil refineries. The captured carbon is stored deep underground using highly impermeable rock formations to prevent it escaping to the surface.
According to the Global CCS Institute, there are currently 24 large scale CCS projects in operation or construction around the world, 14 of which are in North America. In the UK, it has the potential to significantly shape our industrial landscape and create large amounts of jobs, with 7 large scale projects in early development.
Apart from the natural processes performed by plants and trees to recycle carbon, CCS, is the only method that puts carbon back in the ground. When CCS is used in combination with biomass fuels – as Drax plan to do in the UK – it is claimed to be carbon negative. The carbon is initially captured by the plants to be used as fuel and then 90% of the carbon released during combustion is stored underground by the CCS.
CCS plants present considerable expense; when used in tandem with a modern power plant it increases the cost of energy by between 20-90% and would be even more costly to integrate into an existing power plant. Increasing energy costs for consumers would affect the poorest in our society the hardest, increasing the utility bills that are a necessity in the modern would.
Increased energy prices would also influence power-demanding industries. Most of the world’s aluminium smelting plants are located in Iceland, due to its rich abundance of renewable energy sources making the vast amounts of energy needed to smelt aluminium cheap. Increasing the cost of this energy could drive away business on a dramatic scale. CCS also carries the risk of carbon leakage, an important public concern that would mean its failure as a climate change prevention strategy.
Through input output modelling, Route2 has the capacity to assess the effects of CCS on other industries, in order to discover the wider indirect value to society of CCS. With the planned introduction of many CCS facilities, Route2 can help businesses comprehensively understand the positive and negative impacts of CSS in order to understand its Value2Society and prepare for a more sustainable future.