Disadvantages of carbon capture

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are generally ready to go. However, carbon capture does have it’s disadvantages. Whilst CCS technologies are certainly innovative, its technology could limit carbon consumption.

Most power plants don’t have the necessary equipment needed for CCS installation. In the UK, almost all the existing plants need to be re-done. In other words, it needs to be retrofitted. It is estimated that around 1 billion USD per plant is needed.

High Energy Usage

Natural gas power plants use 15-20% more energy than normal plants. The most effort and energy is used in processes like CO2 scrubbing. This involves the extraction of fuel from flue gas via a carbon cleaner. A problem of this is that indirect carbon emissions will rise.

Nitrogen oxide and ammonia are other plant emissions. The chemicals broken down can lead to greater emission levels. For instance, ammonia emissions are likely to be three times higher. Acid rain is likely if ammonia levels are high enough. Ammonia can also lead to eutrophication in nearby waters. Eutrophication is the accumulation of organic matter in water, meaning sunlight can be blocked. As a result, aquatic animal numbers can dwindle.

Carbon leakage

Some badly prepared plants are likely to produce, rather than offset, carbon dioxide. Indirect emissions are likely to be multiplied if this does happen. Site selection of the plant is, therefore, very important.

Aquifers, an underground layer of rock storing water, can also store carbon. Carbon leakage is common from these sites because the insertion of carbon exerts pressure on the bedrock. When the pressure becomes too high, causing the bedrock to rupture, carbon can leak into the overlying soil column.

Challenge of carbon capture

Carbon capture seems to be a promising method of reducing carbon emissions, although there are disadvantages of it. It addresses a ‘delay it’ rather than a ‘solve it’ approach. For instance, carbon capture will only offset a proportion of the world’s emissions. It won’t necessarily stop rising fossil fuels usage. Renewable energy could certainly be a solution to these risks under climate change.

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