CCS is a necessity, not an option, for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) states that CCS is a necessity not an option. UK net-zero scenarios involve aggregate annual capture and storage of 75-175 MtCO₂ in 2050, which will require a major CO₂ transport and storage infrastructure, servicing at least five clusters and with some CO₂ transported by ships or heavy goods vehicles.
CCS is the only way to decarbonise certain industries
Industries such as steel, cement, refining chemicals, glass and ceramics all emit CO2 as part of a chemical process required in production. Currently, CCS is the only technology option that enables deep decarbonisation for these industries.
CCS could open up new markets for the UK
The UK has vast storage capacity available, opening up potential cross-border business opportunities, as well as providing inherent advantages for the UK as a producer of net-zero products.
CCS enables the creation of low-carbon hydrogen
Hydrogen is a gas that, when used to generate energy, only produces water as a waste product. It can be used to power heavy vehicles and heat homes, as well as replace fossil fuels in a range of industrial applications.
CCS helps secure and create jobs
CCS helps retain jobs in regions that rely on heavy industry. It creates fundamental infrastructure for regional low-carbon clusters, which are at the heart of Clean Growth Regeneration Zones.
CCS is proven
CCS projects are already in operation in a number of countries, including the UK. See this interactive Global CCS Map from Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) for more information.
CCS is safe
There is considerable long-term evidence to show that CO2 can be stored safely and securely.
CCS with bio-energy (known as BECCS) has the potential to produce net-negative CO2 emissions
Biomass fuels (made from plants), absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow. When biomass is combusted in a power plant that CO2 is released again, but with CCS it can be captured – this is called bioenergy with CCS (BECCS). CO2 can also be captured directly from the air – this is called direct air capture (DAC/DACCS).
CCS balances the inflexible costs of nuclear and the intermittency of renewables
CCS with fossil fuel power generation can work together with renewable energy – CCS power plants could be shut down when renewables can meet energy demand and started up when they can’t (such as on wind-free days). CCS plants can change output extremely quickly when required and offer reduced costs when not running, features that nuclear power plants cannot offer.
Carbon capture and storage process
Transport overview – all of the UK CO2 will be stored offshore
Using CCS allows net-zero operation for electricity and hydrogen generation from fossil fuels and industrial processes, such as steel and concrete manufacture. CO2 is captured before it reaches the atmosphere and then injected and safely stored in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, non-potable saline aquifers or unmineable coal seams. In some countries – mainly the USA and Canada – captured CO2 is also used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
If CO2 is captured when biomass is burnt (BECCS), or directly from the air (DAC/DACCS), then this CO2 removal can balance emissions from other sources such as agriculture or air transport.
As well as the technical aspects of capture, transport and storage, CCS involves non-technical disciplines which are key to getting CCS projects started and ensuring that they run smoothly, such as public perception, policy and international relations.