In order to meet the UK’s Net Zero by 2050 goals, a multitude of measures are needed, including phasing out fossil fuel vehicles, extensive electrification, the use renewable energy and carbon negative technologies. One such technique is carbon capture; whereby emitted carbon is captured directly from the source or from the air.
This technology goes by many acronyms, depending on how the carbon dioxide is captured and used afterwards:
– CCS- Carbon Capture and Storage
– CCUS- Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage
– DACC- Direct Air Carbon Capture
– BECCS- Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage
An example schematic of how carbon capture technologies work is given below. The graphic illustrates that the CO2 that is absorbed initially by biomass is not released into the atmosphere after burning. The CO2 is utilised by a range of applications or pumped into permanent storage within geological formations (these also include depleted oil/ gas reservoirs). It is this utilisation or storage that often makes carbon capture technologies carbon negative, as CO2 is taken from the atmosphere but is not replenished.
As reported by the IEA (International Energy Agency), the current CCUS facilities annually capture 40 megatons of CO2 globally. The number of CCUS projects and deployment has increased substantially in the last decade, owing to the climate emergency the world faces.
The government addressed the need for a dramatic reduction of CO2 emissions to meet the Net Zero by 2050 targets and recognise that CCUS will play a key role. Compounded by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) and CCC (Climate Change Committee) outlining the necessity for carbon negative technologies in meeting net zero targets, this will also help alleviate pressure on hard to decarbonise sectors, such as aviation, that need more time to develop and innovate.
As outlined in the Clean Growth Strategy (2017), the government wants the UK to demonstrate leadership towards CCUS and to deploy this at scale. Many CCUS plans currently involve a cluster of industries within an industrial ‘hub’, whereby a range of facilities are sharing the infrastructure needed for transporting and storing their collective CO2 emissions. One example is Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, that is currently trialling BECCS and aims to become the UK’s first zero carbon industrial cluster, in combination with other companies including British Steel and H2H Saltend.
For more information and detail on carbon capture technologies, see the references below: