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Can Geoscientists Resolve the CCS Paradox?

International energy and climate organizations have found carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be a promising technology to resolve the squeeze between fast-growing global energy needs and global warming. Even environmental organizations say that making our energy use more efficient and building enough new renewable energy capacity takes too long. We need to get the CCS working to curb the growing greenhouse gas emissions if too large a climate change is to be avoided.

CCS consists of three major interdependent steps:

  • Capture the carbon, CO2 out of flue gases, either from the stack of a power plant or the blast furnace top gas in iron making.
  • Transport it by pipeline or ship it underground.
  • Safely keep it in a storage site for thousands of years.

The technology for each of these steps has been used for decades in the industry, mostly in oil and gas. The important change is the scale–from about 100,000 to 1 million metric tons per year in the past. Today, we see the need for handling 10 million tons in each installation and for perhaps several thousand installations. The amount of CO2 produced from one power station varies from 2 million to 10 million tons; a modern iron-making blast furnace emits up to 10 million tons per year. The costs of the technologies for a large-scale CO2 handling chain are estimated to be split roughly 75%-10%-15% for capture-transport-storage.

Read the entire article in the December 2011 JPT.

Tore A. Torp is adviser for CO2 storage at Statoil, leading the storage part of Statoil’s research and development program (R&D) on CO2 capture and storage. He joined Statoil in 1984 from the steel industry. Between 1984 and 1996, he led large international R&D cooperation projects developing complex offshore field technologies. Since 1997, he has been project manager of Statoil CO2 storage R&D projects. He was vice chairman of the CSLF Technical Group, and was a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. He received a PhD in material sciences from Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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