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What is CCS?

Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2) by the burning of fossil fuels. Power stations that burn fossil fuels such coal, oil or gas are the largest single source of CO2 (see table below*). Transportation activities are the second largest source of CO2, followed by industrial emissions including the emissions from producing and refining oil and gas. There is an increasing effort on a worldwide basis to capture the CO2 produced by these activities and to store it safely underground. This would help to prevent the CO2 from building up in the atmosphere and probably contributing to global warming and definitely causing ocean acidification. In order to have any significant impact we will need to store billions of tons of CO2 over the coming decades. The only possible method to do this is to use natural storage facilities such as deep, constrained saline aquifers and old oil and gas fields, such as those in Canada and the North Sea.

Click here to view a short video (8 minutes) explaining CCS from the U.S. National Energy Technology Lab

Click this link to view a long video (1 hour 28 minutes) discussing all aspects of CCS from Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-ID9WdTr0s

Click this link to view a description of CCS from ICO2N, an Integrated CO2 Network of Canadian companies representing multiple industries, including coal and the oil sands. All ICO2N member companies have a strong interest in and a commitment to develop Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Canada.:

http://www.ico2n.com/what-is-carbon-capture

Click this link to view a video presentation of the CCS in Alberta, Canada:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srBQGIISYx0

 Major Canadian CCS projects are:

 

 

· Cenovus’ Weyburn EOR project in Saskatchewan is Canada’s first CCS project.

· TransAlta Corporatio’s Project Pioneer will capture CO2 at its Keephills power plant.

· The Quest Project, owned by Shell and its partners, will capture and store CO2 from Shell’s Scotford upgrader.

· The Swan Hills Synfuels Project will convert underground coal into a clean synthetic gas, and the CO2 created during the process will be captured and used for EOR.

· SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project at a coal-fired electricity power plant.

· Spectra Energy’s Fort Nelson project at a natural gas processing plan.

An integrated CCS system would include three main steps:

1. Capturing and separating CO2

2. Compressing and transporting the captured CO2 to the sequestration site

3. Sequestering CO2 in geological reservoirs


Electricity-generating plants are among the most likely initial candidates for capture, separation, and storage, or reuse of CO2 because they are predominantly large, single point sources for emissions and contribute the largest proportion of CO2 emissions compared to other types of fossil fuel use in many countries, including the United States (See Table below.) Large industrial facilities, such as cement-manufacturing, ethanol, or hydrogen production plants, that produce large quantities of CO2 as part of the industrial process are also good candidates for CO2 capture and storage.

*Sources for CO2 Emissions in the United States from Combustion of Fossil Fuels

Sources

CO2 Emissionsa

Percent of Totalb

Electricity generation

2,273.3

41%

Transportation

1,856.0

33%

Industrial

862.2

15%

Residential

326.5

6%

Commercial

210.1

4%

Total

5,583.0

100%

 
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006, Table ES-3.
 
a. CO2 emissions in millions of metric tons for 2006; excludes emissions from U.S. territories.
b. Total does not sum to 100% because of rounding.

Click this link to see a map of some of the current CCS sites in the world: Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage map
 
Does CO2 affect the climate?
The effects of CO2 in the atmosphere are controversial. However, the average temperature of the Earth is rising, especially when measured at the poles, and the average Earth surface temperature correlates closely with the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. (i.e. as the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased, the surface temperature has gone up at a proportionate rate.)