Carbon capture and storage: The ten year challenge

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could play a significant role in reducing global CO2 emissions. It has the unique characteristic of keeping fossil carbon in the ground by allowing fossil fuels to be used, but with the CO2 produced being safely stored in a geological formation. Initial versions of the key component technologies are at a sufficient level of maturity to build integrated commercial-scale demonstration plants. If CCS is to reach its full potential to contribute to global efforts to mitigate the risk of dangerous climate change, it is urgent that a number of actions begin now in order to be ready for CCS deployment from around 2020 using proven designs that can be built in large numbers. This article discusses some key challenges for CCS, with a focus on development in the next decade, highlighting the potential benefits of a two tranche programme for integrated commercial-scale demonstration to develop proven reference plant designs and reviewing the importance of distinguishing between different classes of CCS according to their ability to significantly reduce CO2 emissions associated with fossil fuel use. It also identifies some ongoing CCS projects and initiatives and examines some possible implications of current policy discussions for technology development.