Greenhouse gas mitigation technologies, an overview of the CO2 capture, storage and future activities of the IEA Greenhouse gas R&D programme

The IEA Greenhouse gas R&D programme is an international collaboration supported by 16 countries and several industrial organisations. During the first three years (phase 1) the programme has evaluated technologies for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from power stations. The main types of fossil fuel power plant were investigated and the costs and emissions associated with power generation were calculated. Technologies for capturing CO2, were then evaluated with reference to the power generation technologies. Once captured and compressed, storage, transportation and utilisation of carbon dioxide was studied. It was found that the most appropriate technology for capture of CO2 depends upon the type of power plant and in most cases proven technology is available to carry this out. Capture of CO2 adds substantially to the cost of power generation and reduces plant efficiency. In contrast, storage of CO2, in deep aquifers, the oceans or in exhausted oil and gas fields is unproven but would be relatively inexpensive. There are major uncertainties about disposal, in particular in terms of environmental impact and long term security of storage. Utilisation of CO2, in the manufacture of chemicals, has only a limited potential capacity for carbon sequestration. The second phase of the programme has now commenced, developed in the light of key issues identified in the first phase. Such key issues are; can the cost of capture be substantially reduced? How can the uncertainties of disposal be reduced? What are the full fuel cycle costs of mitigation technologies? How effective are means of mitigating emissions of other greenhouse gases? Major elements of the phase 2 programme include: Methane emissions from the Coal industry, Oil and gas industry, Landfills; Other anthropogenic sources power generation/radical approaches to CO2 capture advanced separation techniques ocean storage full fuel cycle studies.