CO₂ capture and geological storage – often known by its acronym CCS and sometimes referred to as ‘carbon capture’ or ‘carbon sequestration’ – is a process to capture carbon dioxide emissions from large industrial sources such as power plants, refineries and oil and gas production facilities before it is vented into the atmosphere. After capture, the CO₂ is then compressed and injected deep underground in secure geological formations. This injected CO₂ is then monitored very closely to assure that it stays underground permanently.
After six years of industrial-scale operation, and more than three million tonnes of CO₂ stored, In Salah is demonstrating CCS is safe, effective and can be done now.
Why is CCS important?
The most recent report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that global CO₂ emissions need to be cut by 50-80% by 2050 in order to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change.
The world currently relies on fossil fuels to meet 80% of its energy needs. The demand from a growing population for energy is increasing and cannot be met in the medium term solely by renewables. To address the challenges of this rising demand for energy and the need to rapidly reduce CO₂ emissions, a portfolio of solutions is needed including greater energy efficiency, increased renewable energies and decarbonisation of fossil fuel-based power generation, using CO₂ capture and storage technologies.
Already, large scale CCS projects such as In Salah are preventing millions of tonnes of CO₂ from entering the atmosphere. But CCS is capable of much more. The IEA roadmap, assessing strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, concludes that CCS will need to contribute one-fifth of the necessary emissions reductions to stabilise GHG concentrations in the most cost-effective manner.
And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes that CCS could account for 15-55% of total CO₂ emissions reductions needed to stabilise climate change this century.