Briefing Note | February 2021
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) refers to the group of technologies that seek to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes that combust fossil fuels, in particular coal and gas.
If commercially successful, it has the potential to reduce or eliminate emissions from conventional power stations and other industrial processes.
CCS has adapted a number of industrial processes from the oil and gas industry to inject and trap carbon dioxide into underground aquifers.
The carbon dioxide is captured either before, during or after combustion depending on the technology used. It is then transported (piped) to appropriate geological sites underground.
While CCS has been used in some pilot trials and even in full scale power stations, it has not been cost effective to date. The capture and transport of carbon dioxide has consumed very large amounts of energy from the power stations it has been attached to, and has only been partially successful in capturing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology has been expensive to install and becomes even more expensive to operate if suitable storage locations are not proximate.
New power station designs like the Allam Cycle incorporate the process of greenhouse gas management and storage into the process, rather than attaching a system to a conventional power station.
CCS is also being considered for other industrial processes like steel mills and cement production. These may prove more viable than CCS for power stations.