Will carbon capture and storage work?
15th December, 2009
Carbon capture sounds like a fantastical idea: dig up fossil fuels, burn them, then return the captured CO2 underground. But the hurdles that stand in its way are formidable
Things are hotting up for the carbon capture and storage industry.
Across the world, there are some 200 test projects are underway to see whether carbon capture and storage is viable, both technically and financially. Most are still at the planning stage and only eight are up and running. None is operating at anything like the scale needed to make a serious dent in our CO2 emissions, yet they are cited by supporters as proof that the basic concept does work.
At the Sleipner gas field in the North Sea, Norwegian company Statoil is removing excess CO2 from the gas and storing it underground. A similar project is up and running at In Salah in Algeria, where Statoil has joined up with BP and Algerian firm Sonatrach. Captured CO2 is also being piped 330km from a coal power station in Beulah, North Dakota, to the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it is pumped underground to help extract oil, a process known as enhanced oil recovery.
An upbeat industry
These examples were widely quoted at a conference on carbon capture and storage held by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London this autumn. The mood was ebullient: speaker after speaker called for...
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