CCS EXPLAINED

Why do we need CCS?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as a vital technology in the fight against the climate crisis. Many organisations – including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – agree that the targets for greenhouse gas emissions, set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, cannot be met without CCS.

In 2019, the UK government announced its support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in both its Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy, recognising the key role CCS can play in decarbonising the UK economy.

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.

How does CCS work?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is essentially a three-stage technology: capturing CO2 from human-made CO2 emission sources; transporting it via a network of pipelines or shipping; and storing it in deep subsurface geological formations. There are also cross-cutting social and policy issues.

The Global CCS Institute (GCCSI) have produced excellent 101 explainers that can be accessed via the images below

Capture

Transportation

Storage

For more detailed information on each area of the carbon capture and storage process, click on any of the headings below

TERC amine capture plant

Carbon Capture

null

Transportation

(Page in development)

null

Carbon Storage

null

Systems & Policy