Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is produced whenever fossil fuels are burned. In the UK in 2005, 208 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were emitted as a result of power generation.
This is 37% of the total UK emissions. Unlike transport or residential emissions, power generation represents very large point sources of CO2. This opens an opportunity to collect these emissions (capture) and place them into secure long term geological storage deep underground in the huge network of microscopic pore space of sandstone rocks.
Carbon Capture and Storage has three stages:
Using proven technology similar to that used in many oil refineries, the pre-combustion fuel or post combustion flue gas from power stations can be processed to remove the CO2. This is then dried and compressed ready for transport.
The captured CO2 is then pumped along pipelines which transport it from the power stations to the storage location. Typically in the UK, these are likely to be in deep geological formations located offshore.
Then using conventional oil field technology, the CO2 is injected deep underground into carefully selected formations which have the capacity to store large amounts of CO2 safely and indefinitely.
With Carbon Capture and Storage power can continue to be produced from our depleting fossil fuel reserves, but without creating CO2 emissions which cause climate change. This will create a bridge of opportunity of between 50-100 years during which the world can make a controlled change away from a carbon based economy.
There is a small additional energy penalty to operate CSS. Power is required to capture the CO2, compress and transport it and finally to inject it deep underground. This means that more fuel will be required to generate the decarbonised electricity. The costs associated with capture, transportation, storage and the long term monitoring of the storage site will increase the price of electricity by a small amount.