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Carbon Capture

Carbon capture is key to achieving global
net-zero emissions

The amount of carbon dioxide released globally from energy use is a staggering 26 billion tonnes. 75% of emissions reductions are expected to come from technology that is not yet mature.

That’s why CATF’s team is working to rapidly accelerate the adoption of carbon capture and storage technologies to prevent emissions of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, and reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

What is carbon capture and what does it do?

Carbon capture, removal, and storage are a suite of climate technologies that play an essential role in capturing new carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes, such as steel and cement manufacturing, or from burning fossil fuels in power generation. There are also technologies that capture old carbon dioxide that has remained in the atmosphere over thousands of years ago by extracting it directly from the air.

The carbon capture and storage process follows a three-step process:

1. Capture

The carbon dioxide is separated from the other gasses often through a chemical solution that reacts with carbon dioxide to be stored or used. The technology can capture up to 99% of carbon dioxide.

2. Transport

Once separated, the carbon dioxide is then compressed to reduce its volume so that it can be transported via pipelines, trucks, or ships to a storage site.

3. Storage

At the storage site, the carbon dioxide is injected into rock formations below the earth’s surface. Emissions are trapped in the pores of geologic formations with impermeable rock layers that act as seals to prevent carbon dioxide from leaking back into the atmosphere.

Why do we need carbon capture?

The world is running
out of time….

The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is a staggering 26 billion tonnes a year. That’s 100 times faster than the Earth has ever seen. If we don’t change course now, our planet will undergo catastrophic changes. The global target is to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

This is a huge challenge. So we need as many carbon reduction methods as possible. Carbon capture and storage can keep millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted from sources out of the atmosphere–many of which will not operate without creating carbon–making it a critical tool in the climate solution toolbox.

…and the science says so

In order to achieve this goal on time, carbon capture and storage technologies will need to play an essential role to reduce emissions at the pace necessary to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

Here’s why: there are key industries in the global economy that cannot operate without creating carbon dioxide emissions, including steel and iron production, chemical production, waste disposal, and cement production. While these industries are essential to our basic living, they also have inherent emissions that cannot be solved entirely by what has been the world’s primary strategy for transitioning to clean energy – renewable energy from solar and wind resources.

The carbon capture solution

In order to meet our climate targets we must reach zero in the next thirty years and without carbon capture and storage technologies that would be practically impossible.

Icon: Left quotes

If net zero is to remain within reach, CCUS cannot spend another decade sitting on the side lines of climate mitigation efforts.

– International Energy Agency (Sam McColloch)

Carbon capture FAQs

Does carbon capture actually work?

Carbon capture technology has been working safely and effectively for 50 years. Today, there are more than 25 facilities operating around the world, permanently capturing and storing around 40 Mt of carbon dioxide annually.

Is carbon capture and storage good for the environment?

When it’s in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is a pollutant because it traps heat from the planet before it escapes into space which actively warms the earth, and consequently damages the environment.

When it’s in the deep subsurface, carbon dioxide does not damage the environment because fluids such as brine, hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide are naturally occurring underground and have been stored in these geological formations for hundreds of millions of years.

Is it safe to put carbon dioxide into rock formations underground?

It’s very safe to put carbon dioxide₂ in rocks. Geologic storage in its simplest form takes place in a porous rock capped by an impermeable rock. Carbon dioxide is injected into the porous rock in a very compressed liquid-like form and becomes trapped in the pores of the rock. Storage of the carbon dioxide is low-risk for leakage for the long-term and is permanent.

Is there enough space to store carbon dioxide?

There is abundant underground storage capacity available around the world to store carbon dioxide. In Europe, for example, there is sufficient storage capacity for more than 100 years of current emissions. The total carbon dioxide storage capacity available in Europe is estimated to be 482 Gt according to CO2StoP.

Interconnected carbon capture and storage systems are the most efficient way to store carbon dioxide, collecting it from multiple capture sources, compressing it, and delivering it to sites where it can be utilized or stored allows us to tap into economies of scale.

The challenges and opportunities of deploying carbon capture and storage

Scientific studies of climate change repeatedly show that it won’t be enough just to make deep reductions in carbon dioxide releases. By the second half of this century, all carbon dioxide emissions must be removed from the world’s energy system.

Carbon capture and storage technologies will play a vital role in that removal, but must be built more cheaply, quickly, and at the needed scale. This requires technology-specific public policies that facilitate the following:

Government funding to support research and development

Network expansion of carbon dioxide pipelines and storage sites so carbon capture and storage projects can easily connect to it

Financial incentives to commercially deploy carbon capture and storage leading to industry acceptance

Broader mandates for purchasing energy, emission caps, and energy standards that include carbon capture and storage

Learn more about CATF’s efforts and work in carbon capture.

Interactive Maps

Early-stage carbon capture project maps

CATF has built interactive maps that track carbon capture and storage projects that have been publicly announced in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Click on the colored circles on each map to learn about each project’s location, sector (industrial, power, or direct air capture), type of carbon dioxide storage (EOR or saline), storage capacity, and current status.

The map also shows the vast expanse of potential geologic saline storage formations around each country.

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