Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has a vital role to play in long term sustainability in both the energy and industry sectors. As a process, CCS is used to capture carbon dioxide gas (CO2) at point source to keep CO2 from entering the atmosphere. It is then, transported, and securely stored underground, either via enhanced oil recovery or directly to a sequestration site.
CCS and Industry
CCS is applicable beyond the energy sectors and can be applied to industrial sources of emissions, which have limited abatement options such as iron, steel, and concrete. In recent years, analysts and governments have recognized that some of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries may have no alternatives to CCS for deep emissions reduction. This is because CO2 is generated not only from their use of fuel, but also, unavoidably, through their production processes as well.
For example, during the production of cement, which produces 5% of the worlds CO2, two-thirds of the emissions are from processing due to the extreme heat required to produce it. Concrete is the second most consumed substance on the planet, next to water with roughly attributing 3 tonnes of concrete yearly by every person on earth (State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University). Flue gas from a cement plant can be very similar to the flue gas stream from a coal-fired power plant. As a result it is relatively easy to adapt the expertise acquired at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3 Carbon Capture Facility (BD3) to help de-risk the cement industry.
Greenhouse Gases & the Industrial Sector
Overall, the industrial sector is responsible for nearly one quarter of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions
At a combined emissions level of more than 7 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) in 2011, seven large industrial sectors that include cement, iron and steel, chemicals and refining are responsible for one-fifth of the total of 31 GtCO2 emitted globally. Emissions from each of these sectors are expected to grow by around 35% up to 2050, which can be attributed to the increasing demand for consumer products and infrastructure (IEA Industrial Applications of CCS).
Improved efficiency measures and non-fossil energy options could potentially reduce emissions from these sectors but only by about 30%.
As the world moves towards renewables and other low carbon technologies like wind and nuclear power, these technologies rely heavily on supply chain materials like steel and carbon fibers that are all emitters of CO2. CCS is the only technology that can achieve deep reductions in CO2 emissions from high-emitting industries. Without CCS or innovation in materials and fuels production, the total emissions from these sectors will increase if economic growth continues at the rates projected. Clearly, CCS can be a bridge between economic growth and the demand for industrial output.
Using a combination of renewables and CCS is the answer to both reducing emissions in the short-term, but also creating a sustainable, long-term plan for energy and manufacturing. It doesn’t have to be either or, it can be both…it needs to be both (IEA Industrial Applications of CCS).