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Planetark: FACTBOX – What is Carbon Capture and Storage?

Britain’s finance minister Gordon Brown announced on Wednesday a package of subisidies to boost carbon capture and storage — burying greenhouse gases underground.

Britain has potential carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects at Tees-side (run by Progressive Energy), Tilbury (RWE,), Killingholme (E.ON,), Kingsnorth (E.ON), Hatfield (Powerfuel), Peterhead (BP,), Ferrybridge (Scottish and Southern Energy). Below is a summary of what CCS involves.

** CCS consists of separating the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial sources like power plants and transporting it to a storage location below ground for long-term isolation from the atmosphere

** CO2 is widely blamed for contributing to global warming and is a by-product of man’s burning fossil fuels like coal and oil for heat, power and transport

** CCS unknowns and potential hitches include — technical feasibility, risks of CO2 leakage, liability for leaks, cost, global capacity to store gases, transferability to developing countries, public perception

** The risk of leaks are that the climate change benefits of CCS are undone, and possible asphixiation of any people above ground caught in a CO2 bubble

** Potential storage sites include old oil and gas fields, coal beds, direct release into the ocean or onto the deep seafloor

** A power plant with CCS could reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by approximately 80 to 90 percent compared to a plant without CCS (IPCC, 2005)

** The combination of CO2 storage with Enhanced Oil Recovery, displacing oil and gas from ageing fields, could lead to additional revenues from the extra oil or gas

** Carbon burial has already been used to enhance oil recovery in onshore oil fields in Texas, and Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell are planning the first off-shore CO2 burial, off Norway

** Projections suggest that by 2050 some 20-40 percent of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions could be suitable for CCS, including 30-60 precent of CO2 emissions from electricity generation and 30-40 percent of those from industry (IPCC, 2005)

** World-wide geological storage capacity is “likely” to exceed 2,000 billion tonnes of CO2, or 80 times the world’s total annual emissions in 2003 of 24,500 million tonnes of CO2 (IPCC, 2005)

** The European Union could bury 30 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, more than five times the bloc’s current annual emissions, said a study by the Zero Emission Power Production group in September (ZEP includes energy companies such as BP, Shell and Statoil)

Story Date: 7/12/2006

© Reuters News Service 2006

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