EME 444
Global Energy Enterprise

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

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There are two general approaches to addressing anthropogenic climate change: mitigation and adaptation.  Adaptation refers to adjusting to the impacts of climate change that can/do occur, while mitigation refers to preventing greenhouse gas emissions from impacting the climate in the first place.  (Keep in mind that planning - of both the market and nonmarket variety - can address both simultaneously.) There are two general ways to mitigate emissions. Prevention is most often the focus of mitigation efforts. The most common examples are using renewable and carbon-free energy sources, and energy efficiency.  However, Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies and methods can also be effective mitigating agents.  CDR technologies are frequently mentioned by many governments and organizations, including by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their Assessment Reports, including in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), which was completed in 2014.  The IPCC is the most prominent and well-regarded international organization studying and proposing solutions to climate change. Carbon capture and storage (sometimes referred to as carbon capture and sequestration), or CCS, is a prominent CDR technology. The video below from the British Geological Society provides a good introduction to this process.

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What is carbon capture and storage (CCS)? (4.5 minutes)

There are many good sources of information about CCS, including The Global Status of CCS: 2015 (from the Global CCS Institute), research by the World Resources Institute, Energy Information Administration, and International Energy Agency. The best source of current and balanced information on this topic, at an appropriate level of depth and detail are from this source, which has links to referenced studies.

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For an updated (but CCS industry-based) perspective, feel free to page through the Global CCS Institute's The Global Status of CCS 2016, especially pp. 8 - 12. When reading this, keep in mind that there were over 33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector alone in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration (retrieved February 2017).

Finally, for an explanation of the role of coal and CCS in the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan (which is likely to not be enforced by the Trump Administration), read the following summary from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and for an understanding of the current and near-term status of CCS, see the article from IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

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You are welcome to read the entire C2ES article, but at least start at the beginning and read through the end of the answer to "What does the standard require?" and then skip to and read "What can power plants do to reduce emissions?".