The key advantages of CO2 capture and storage technologies
- All the current energy supply scenarios indicate that dependence on fossil fuels is here to stay, at the very least, up to the period 2020-2030. This is true even when the effect of current policies is taken into account.
- The projected increase of the share of renewable energy sources will not be sufficient to control CO2 emissions to the extent that the climate is no longer at risk.
- The dependence on fossil fuels over the coming decades can be reconciled with the fulfilment of the Kyoto obligations by CO2 capture and storage.
- The beneficial effects of the use of capture and storage technologies will be even more significant for any post-Kyoto agreement.
What is the potential of CO2 capture and storage technologies?
- Capture and storage technologies are best applied to large scale energy conversion plants, as opposed to small or mobile applications.
- In the present energy context these large conversion plants are mainly power stations, providing electricity, which are responsible for over a quarter of global CO2 emissions.
A vision of the future
- The possibility exists for a CO2 free energy system based on fossil fuels. One route is hydrogen production. The hydrogen is produced in large facilities using fossil fuels, which would incorporate CO2 capture and storage. Hydrogen would then be used in all transport applications which currently use liquid fuels. This solution would address more than 2/3 of all CO2 emissions.
- The application of the above technique to a plant which burns biomass would result in net negative CO2 emissions.
- It is obvious that these long term options would make economic sense only if supported by the right financial incentives (carbon tax, emission caps, trading, etc.).
How can CO2 capture and storage contribute to achieving EU objectives?
- In addition to its obvious contribution to Kyoto obligations, and post Kyoto obligations, the technology would be a major benefit for the security of energy supply to the EU. It would help the EU use the ample fossil fuel reserves available, without breaking environmental commitments. This was pointed out in the "Green paper on the energy security of supply ."
- The storage of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery or coal bed methane would provide the EU with additional indigenous fuel supplies.
- The technology is also competitive when compared to the large-scale development of renewable energies. It has the potential to allow the EU to fulfil its obligations while reducing economic and social costs.