The CO2 capture potential

The paper from the study was recently published in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. The paper can be downloaded as a PDF file from the box to the right. A summary of the paper is given below.

Global warming is a result of increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and the consequences will be dramatic climate changes if no action is taken. One of the main global challenges in the years to come is therefore to reduce the CO2 emissions.

Increasing energy efficiency and a transition to renewable energy as the major energy source can reduce CO2 emissions, but such measures can only lead to significant emission reductions in the long-term. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a promising technological option for reducing CO2 emissions on a shorter time scale.

A model to calculate the CO2 capture potential has been developed, and it is estimated that 25 billion ton CO2 can be captured and stored within the EU by 2050. Globally, 236 billion ton CO2 can be captured and stored by 2050. The calculations indicate that wide implementation of CCS can reduce CO2 emissions by 54 percent in the EU and 33 percent globally in 2050 compared to emission levels today.

Such a reduction in emissions is not sufficient to stabilize the climate. Therefore, the strategy to achieve the necessary CO2 emissions reductions must be a combination of (1) increasing energy efficiency, (2) switching from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources, and (3) wide implementation of CCS.

Calculation of the potential for the CO2 capture is based on the following assumptions:

  • Only a few large-scale CCS projects have been commissioned so far, and it will take some years until CCS can contribute to large reductions in global CO2-emissions. The European Union (EU) Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP) is aiming for power plants capable of capturing their CO2 emissions by 2020. Several CCS projects have been announced with commissioning in the period from 2009 to 2016, and it is therefore assumed that CCS will start to contribute to CO2 emission reductions in OECD countries in 2015.
  • Available technologies can capture 85 to 95 percent of the CO2 processed in a capture plant (IPCC). However, energy is required to capture, transport and inject CO2, and CCS can therefore reduce emissions to the atmosphere by approximately 80 to 90 percent (IPCC, 2005). As a conservative approach, it is therefore assumed that 80 percent of CO2 produced in the power production sector will be captured and stored in OECD countries by 2050.
  • The EU Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform aims to make hydrogen a major transport fuel for vehicles with a market share up to 50 percent in 2050 (HFP). Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels, and in such a process CO2 will be produced. CO2 can be captured from large Hydrogen production plants, and, therefore, in the transport sector, 50 percent of the CO2 produced is assumed to be captured by 2050 in OECD countries.
  • CO2 capture applies mainly to large stationary point sources, including fossil fuelled power plants and large industrial single point emission processes such as refineries, cement plants, chemical plants and steel mills. Implementing CCS for smaller industrial CO2 sources is impractical and too expensive. According to IEA, global CO2 emissions from the industry sector were 4.1 billion ton annually in 2002. IPCC has identified 2552 industrial CO2 sources from refineries, cement production, iron and steel industry, and petrochemical plants which emit more than 0.1 million ton CO2 annually each. The total CO2 emissions from these sources are 2.8 billion ton CO2 annually, which are more than half of the global CO2 emissions from the industry sector in 2002. It is therefore assumed that CCS can reduce CO2 emissions from the industrial sector in OECD countries by 50 percent within 2050.
  • The rich countries have to take a leading role in deploying strategies for reducing the CO2 emissions. CCS deployment is therefore assumed to develop faster in OECD countries than non‑OECD countries. CO2 capture in non-OECD countries is thus assumed to start in 2020. It is further assumed that CO2 capture in non-OECD countries will reach ¾ (i.e. 75 percent) of the level in OECD countries by 2050.

Aage Stangeland