Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS)

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Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS)

BECCS encompasses a wide range of different plans, but what they all share in common is the utilization of plants to draw CO2 from the atmosphere (which they have perfected over millions of years) and then using the biomass to generate electrical energy in a power plant equipped with CO2 scrubbers on their emissions.

Diagram of Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS)
A schematic representation of a BECCS system, which utilizes fast-growing plants to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, turning it into biomass that is harvested and burned in a power plant to produce electricity. The combustion emissions are scrubbed to remove the CO2, which is then sequestered in a suitable geologic formation below the surface.
Credit: David Bice

The captured CO2 from these power plants is then injected into a deeply buried geologic layer where it is sequestered — just as with the DACCS approach. A BECCS system will reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere while at the same time producing energy, the sale of which helps offset the costs. Some estimates suggest that a system such as this could remove carbon at a net cost of $15 per ton of CO2 — significantly cheaper than the DACCS systems. Deploying BECCS on a large enough scale to make a serious reduction in CO2 would require a lot of land and water to grow the biofuels, and this imposes a limit since we will also need the land and water resources to grow food crops for a growing population.