How Many CCS Plants Are There in the World?

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Supporters of CCS plants see carbon capture storage as a way for us to use fossil fuels in the short term but still cut our emissions. 1

As a result, world governments are funding a number of carbon capture and sequestration projects,2 but are CCS project funds really the answer to our climate change fight?

How Many CCS Plants Are There?

There are 23 CCS plants around the world that are either in operation or are under construction, according to a 2019 report by the Global CCS Institute.3 A further 10 CCS plants are in the later stages of development. 18 are currently at an early development stage.

It’s important to note that only a couple of CCS plants are actually working though.

Key Examples of CCS Plants

The globally known Petra Nova coal fired plant in Texas is one of only two power plants in the world today that are operating with capture and storage technology, says the U.S. Energy Information Agency.4 The CO2 captured at Petra Nova is used for enhanced oil recovery.

Oil recovery works by pumping carbon dioxide into partially depleted oil fields. The process forces out the remaining oil and, in turn, traps carbon dioxide.5 As such, energy companies like Shell support CCS as a way of making the oil they trade a so-called “cleaner” energy.

Similarly, supporters of natural gas also advocate using CCS technology. Through post-combustion capture, we can reduce the amount of CO2 produced during shale gas extraction to as little as five percent of the carbon dioxide output of a new conventional coal power plant that does not have CCS, the Clean Air Task Force estimates.7

The idea of removing carbon from our atmosphere to slow climate change is based on sound science.8 As a result, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supports “negative emissions technologies” as an important tool for climate change prevention.9

But, CCS can only work where two things are in place. One is money, and the other is the technology to make CCS a reality quickly and at scale.

The Problem With Capture and Sequestration

Unfortunately, CCS is still not where we need it to be. Take air flow carbon capture and storage. It will only reach low cost by 2070.10 In addition, wide-scale adoption will not happen until 2100.11 Based on current climate models, that’s not soon enough to prevent climate change’s worst effects.

The Paris Climate Agreement made it clear that we need solutions to climate change and we need them now. Luckily, we do have them.

For example, every year wind and solar energy displaces about 35 times the amount of CO2 that CCS plants have been able to displace in their entire history.12

Consequently, CCS plants might one day be a tool that can help fight climate change, but wind and solar power are working and available right now. They, and other green energy resources, are where our focus needs to be.

Sources

  1. Ccsassociation.org. 2020. Tackling Climate Change – The Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA). [online] Available at: <http://www.ccsassociation.org/why-ccs/tackling-climate-change/> [Accessed 7 May 2020].
  2. Rubin, E., 2012. Capture Carbon Today For A Secure Tomorrow. [online] World Bank. Available at: <https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/05/23/capture-carbon-today-for-a-secure-tomorrow> [Accessed 7 May 2020].
  3. Page, B., 2019. Global Status Of CCS 2019; Targeting Climate Change. [online] Globalccsinstitute.com. Available at: <https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/GCC_GLOBAL_STATUS_REPORT_2019.pdf>
  4. Dubin, K., 2017. Petra Nova Is One Of Two Carbon Capture And Sequestration Power Plants In The World. [online] Eia.gov. Available at: <https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=33552> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  5. Mather, V., n.d. CCS With CO₂-Enhanced Oil Recovery. [online] Sccs.org.uk. Available at: <https://www.sccs.org.uk/ccs-with-co2enhanced-oil-recovery> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  6. Fossil Transition.org, n.d. Natural Gas With Carbon Capture (CCUS). [online] Available at: <http://www.fossiltransition.org/pages/_copy_of__natural_gas_w_ccs/182.php> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  7. Bui, M., Adjiman, C., Bardow, A., Anthony, E., Boston, A., Brown, S., Fennell, P., et al. 2018. Carbon Capture And Storage (CCS): The Way Forward. [online] Available at: <https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2018/ee/c7ee02342a#!divAbstract> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  8. Ipcc.ch. 2005. Carbon Dioxide Capture And Storage — IPCC. [online] Available at: <https://www.ipcc.ch/report/carbon-dioxide-capture-and-storage/> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  9. Minx, J. and Nemet, G., 2018. The Inconvenient Truth About Carbon Capture. [online] The Washington Post. Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/05/31/carbon-capture/> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  10. Minx, J. and Nemet, G., 2018. The Inconvenient Truth About Carbon Capture. [online] The Washington Post. Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/05/31/carbon-capture/> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
  11. Barnard, M., 2019. Carbon Capture’s Global Investment Would Have Been Better Spent On Wind & Solar | Cleantechnica. [online] CleanTechnica. Available at: <https://cleantechnica.com/2019/04/21/carbon-captures-global-investment-would-have-been-better-spent-on-wind-solar/?fbclid=IwAR0t-vF6hAucbtKIc9jTwKc7GTB-WuHkOmHSQlsfEGDnfUnAcvvgyomK2W0> [Accessed 28 April 2020].

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