Carbon capture and sequestration: Fact or fad?
Carbon capture and sequestrationis a highly controversial topic.Some people see it as absolutely necessary if we are to meet our ambitious emissionstargets - the do-or-die challenge for the traditionalenergy sectorderiving from fossil fuels,as well as other major emitting industries.Others see it as a pie in the sky solution that merely serves to hide the problem rather thaneradicate it completely.Carbon capture and sequestrationuses various techniques to scrub and capture CO
fromgeneration plant fuel gasses, and then pipes the CO2 to an underground "storage area" orships it for deep ocean storage. The process is costly, but it has proven successful indrastically reducing carbon emissions from energy plants.
Emissions and energy use are highly correlated
As the climate change issue infiltrates more and more government policies across the globe,businessesare fast realising that carbon capture andsequestrationis a solution they can nolonger ignore, and are becoming increasingly committed towards developing carbon captureandsequestrationtechnology.There are already over 30carbon capturedemonstration projects in the pipeline across theglobe.In the US, 98 percent of carbon dioxide is emitted as a result of the combustion of fossilfuels; consequently, carbon dioxide emissions and energy use are highly correlated.
Lack of funding
The main stumbling block to carbon capture and sequestration has been funding. Projectscanexceed $1 billion – an investment few utilities can afford, especially when thetechnology is not fully proven. But the EU, the US, and Canada have begun allocating fundsto further the development of this relatively new technology.Obamahas identified $3.5 billion in stimulus funding forcarbon captureand Secretary Chuhas restarted theFutureGenAlliance project.Environmentalists have voiced major concerns over the technology. As well as additionalenergy being required for carbon capture - meaning substantially more fuel has to be used -there is also the possibility of CO2 leakage. In 1986, a large leakage of naturallysequestered carbon dioxide rose from Lake Nyos in Cameroon and asphyxiated 1,700people. While the carbon had been sequestered naturally, some point to the event asevidence for the potentially catastrophic effects of sequestering carbon.But experts claim this is an isolated incident, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "The prospect for CO2 sequestration is excellent...based on 30 years of injection experience and the ability of the earth’s crust to trap CO2."
Plant emissions not sustainable
Despite environmental concerns surrounding carbon capture, the fact remains thatunfettered CO2 plant emissions are not sustainable. Based upon the success of StatOil’s