Sunday, July 21, 2024

The world’s on the verge of a carbon storage boom

Computer scienceThe world’s on the verge of a carbon storage boom

“Not taking this seriously risks potentially trillions of dollars and billions of tonnes of [greenhouse-gas] emissions, not to mention the trust and goodwill of the American public, which is reasonably skeptical of these potentially critically important technologies,” she wrote in an op-ed in the industry outlet Utility Dive.

Global goals

Other nations and regions are also accelerating efforts to capture and store carbon as part of their broader efforts to lower emissions and combat climate change. The EU, which has dedicated tens of billions of euros to accelerating the development of CCS, is working to develop the capacity to store 50 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, according to the Global CCS Institute’s 2023 industry report.

Likewise, Japan hopes to sequester 240 million tons annually by 2050, while Saudi Arabia is aiming for 44 million tons by 2035. The industry trade group said there were 41 CCS projects in operation around the world at the time, with another 351 under development.

A handful of US facilities have been capturing carbon dioxide for decades for a variety of uses, including processing or producing natural gas, ammonia, and soda ash, which is used in soaps, cosmetics, baking soda, and other goods.

But Ben Grove, carbon storage manager at the Clean Air Task Force, says the increased subsidies in the IRA made CCS economical for many industry segments in the US, including: chemicals, petrochemicals, hydrogen, cement, oil, gas and ethanol refineries, and steel, at least on the low end of the estimated cost ranges. 

In many cases, the available subsidies still won’t fully cover the added cost of CCS in power plants and certain other industrial facilities. But the broader hope is that these federal programs will help companies scale up and optimize these processes over time, driving down the cost of CCS and making it feasible for more sectors, Grove says.

‘Against all evidence’

In addition to the gas treatment and hydrogen plants, CRC says, another source for the captured carbon dioxide could eventually include its own Elk Hills Power Plant, which runs on natural gas extracted from the oil field. The company has said it intends to retrofit the facility to capture 1.5 million tons of emissions a year.

Still other sources could include renewable fuels plants, which may mean biofuel facilities, steam generators, and a proposed direct-air-capture plant that would be developed by the carbon-removal startup Avnos, according to the EPA filing. Carbon TerraVault is part of a consortium, which includes Avnos, Climeworks, Southern California Gas Company, and others, that has proposed developing a direct-air-capture hub in Kern County, where the Elk Hills field is located. Last year, the Department of Energy awarded the so-called California DAC Hub nearly $12 million to conduct engineering design studies for direct-air-capture facilities.

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