What is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)?
Carbon capture and storage, or carbon sequestration, is the process of sucking carbon out of the air and depositing it safely underground. It has been endorsed by scientists through IPCC reports as a key technology in the battle for green energy. However, carbon capture and storage cost can be the main downfall of some carbon capture technologies.
The Cost of CCS
In theory, CCS should be a game changer for the environment. However, CCS technologies come at a cost that not everyone wants to pay. The CCS process requires a lot of equipment.
It also raises the fuel needs of, say, a coal-fired electricity plant by 25–40%. Moreover, the further away the storage location is, the more expensive it will be to apply the technology to the existing plant.
High-level capture cost estimation is tricky and cost varies from plant to plant, but the general consensus is that CCS comes with a pretty hefty price tag. However, a new carbon capture process to make fuel at an industrial plant claims to have brought the cost down to between $94 (£76) and $232 (£188) per ton, compared to previous estimates of $600 (£486) per ton – so whilst CCS is expensive, we are seeing progress.
Why not CCS?
Carbon capture and storage cost is, undoubtedly, one of its main setbacks. The financial requirements of CCS isn’t exactly an attractive prospect to investors, especially when you consider the monetary benefits of other green alternatives. For example, electric cars and solar power energy are great for saving energy, but they also have cash profits. As it stands, CO2 capture only benefits the environment, as deposited CO2 emissions can’t be monetised. With this in mind, CCS needs additional incentives – or funding – to become a true climate change winner.
The Future of CCS
It’s not all doom and gloom for CCS. In 2018, U.S. Congress passed a tax credit that rewards companies for each metric ton of CO2 they safely deposit. New California laws aim to reward companies for carbon sequestration, which may see a new incentive. Over in the UK, the recent Conservative manifesto pledged £800 ($987) million towards funding CCS technologies.
The support for CCS isn’t non-existent – it’s just a little harder to find. But either way, with solar electricity, liquid biofuels and electric cars making waves for green energy, the cost of CCS may not be an issue for much longer.
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