Home   :    Contact   :    Donations
The Shark and Coral Conservation Trust
About SCCT   :       Donations   :       The Facts   :       D.E.E.P   :       News   :       Articles   :       Videos   :       What You Can Do

articles


Carbon Capture and Storage - UKCCSC Project
28/04/08
source : G8 - 2005 - 2007  Website - Edinburgh University


What is carbon capture and storage?

cartoon of underground CO2 storage Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere (as carbon dioxide, also called CO2) whenever we burn any fuel, anywhere. The largest sources are cars and lorries, and non-nuclear power stations - those that burn coal, oil or gas, otherwise known as fossil fuels. To prevent the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere (and possibly causing global warming), we can catch the CO2, and store it. As we would need to store many millions of tons of CO2, we cannot just build containers, but must use natural storage facilites. Some of the best natural containers are old oil and gas fields, such as those in the North Sea.

Diagram of possible locations for underground storage of CO2, from IPCC report.

What might carbon capture and storage look like?

Miller CO2 concept Natural gas is methane CH4. This is produced from several fields, offshore in the UK North Sea. The gas is brought onshore by pipeline, to the St Fergus gas terminal, and then to the Peterhead power station, where it is burned to make electricity. At present the CO2 from burning this gas goes into the atmosphere. The plan is to add a new part onto the power station, which will use existing oil-refinery technology to split gas into Hydrogen H2 and CO2. The CO2 will be separated by a newly-designed membrane, and will then be then sent offshore, using an existing corrosion-resistant pipeline. This CO2 goes to the Miller oilfield, which is near to the end of its normal life of oil production. But, like many fields, more than 30% of the oil is still un-produced. The CO2 makes the remaining oil easier to produce - partly paying for the operation. The CO2 is stored in the oilfield, 4km below sea level, instead of being vented into the atmosphere from the power station. This is the first such integrated whole-system in the world, and could be operating before 2009.

Diagram shows conceptual plan for converting methane gas into hydrogen and CO2, then pumping the separated CO2 offshore to assist with efficient oil production from the Miller oilfield. See British Petroleum website.

What are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the UK and worldwide?

world CO2 emissions, 1990 - 2020The UK emits more than 500 millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. The quantity has steadily increased since the start of the industrial revolution (1800's) and peaked late in the last century. We are not the country that uses the most CO2 per member of the population - but our usage is still high. Worldwide, emissions are still rising.

The National Energy Foundation has a good explanation of why some countries emit more CO2 than others.



UK CO2 emissions since before the industrial revolution. From National Energy Foundation, data from Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. Data compiled by G. Marland, T. A. Boden and R. J. Andres of ORNL UK CO2 emissions, pre-industrial revolution to present

How does CO2 affect the climate ?

global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels, 1860 to presentThe effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are controversial. However, the average temperature of the Earth is rising, especially when measured at the poles. Note that the average Earth surface temperature correlates well 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 the same time).

In the diagram, the average temperature is in red and the CO2 content of the atmosphere is in greenImage source

For more information, including the science of predicting climate change, click here.

How does CO2 affect the oceans?

About half of the extra CO2 from the atmosphere will dissolve in the oceans, making the water more acidic. The diagram shows how acidic the oceans will become in the future, upto the year 3000. To work this out, it was necessary to:
  1. predict how CO2 emissions will change in the future (the top of the diagram)
  2. calculate how this will change the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (middle part of the diagram)
  3. finally work out how acidic the oceans will become (bottom part of the diagram)
The acidity is shown as a change in pH units. The effects of this change on marine life is unknown, but could be disastrous.

Diagram from Caldeira, K. & Wickett, M.E. (2003) Nature, v. 425. p. 365
predicted increases in ocean acidity, 1750 to 3000
Surface ocean acidity The effects of making the ocean more acid are absolutely inevitable, and are easy to predict, as it relies on simple chemistry, not on complex computer models of climate. The ocean already holds 400 Billion tons of fossil fuel CO2. Consequently, the ocean is already 0.1 pH units more acid than before industrial CO2 emissions. This means nutrients for plankton in the North Sea, and all shallow ocean waters, are changing rapidly. This is the base of the food chain for invertebrates, shells and, eventually, economic fishing. By 2050 the ocean will be five times more acid than at any time since glaciation (change pH 8.4 to pH 7.8). More information on ocean acidification

Why is the UK a good place to capture and store CO2?

The UK has numerous oil and gas fields, many of which are becoming emptied of hydrocarbons. These are perhaps the best places to store CO2. A study in 1996 estimated that we have space for  about 5.3 Gt CO2 in depleted oilfields, and about 11-15 Gt CO2 in depleted gas fields. This is about 5, 300, 000, 000 tonnes of CO2 in  disused oil fields - about 10 years of total UK CO2 emissions in oilfields, and a further 30 years in gasfields. We have the technical expertise to plan the storage (gained from extracting the oil and gas), and an established industry base that could undertake the work.

There is a second type of geological store, known as saline aquifers. These are porous rocks deep below ground that are full of salty water that is of no use for drinking or agriculture. In the UK, the same 1996 study estimated that we could store 19 - 716 Gt CO2 like this   716, 000, 000, 000 tonnes of CO2 - perhaps sufficient for 500 years of UK emissions. There are more geological problems in using such storage sites, as we know less about the geology. However many of the rocks are similar to oilfields, so there is good reason to suppose that these saline aquifers are well worth investigating in more detail. Infact, the only present day test site for underground CO2 storage in the North Sea uses a saline aquifer at 1km below the seabed, which is sited above the Norwegian Sleipner Field.

When should we do this?

Now! We should start CO2 injection immediately, and expect to have to continue until at least 2030. Hopefully by this time we will have developed lower-carbon technology and have reduced CO2 emissions to levels that are not causing environmental damage.

There is a good reason why we should start CO2 storage sooner rather than later - at the present almost all of the UK offshore oil and gas fields still have their platforms in place - these are the 'oil rigs' that everybody is familiar with from photos in newspapers. These platforms can be modified for CO2 storage, at a fraction of the cost of building and installing new facilites. By the end of the next decade, many of these platforms will have been removed as the oil and gas supplies run dry. This would leave only a fraction of the storage potential for CO2 that we have at present.

What if we do nothing?

The longer we wait, the worse it gets. You may not believe in climate change, but most scientists believe that the evidence of high CO2 levels and hot climates in the past is compelling. You may not care if the summers get a few degrees warmer, but the ocean will inevitably become more acid, and the last time that happened it became a layered green soup (about 50 Million years ago). Click here for more information on predicting climate change in the future.

Like all preventive medicine, it's easier to put off the fateful day. But when that day arrives, it causes you more pain, and costs more, compared to early actions. Its important to realise that, even if we act now, in 2005, the climate will carry on warming for another 3 or 5 degrees Centigrade. That means some parts of the UK may have a climate like southwest France. But where will the Spanish live, and the French, and all the people in North Africa, and all the people in the southern USA, as these areas dry and heat up to become uninhabitable desert?

By acting now, we have a chance to limit that rise to less than 5 Centigrade, by keeping atmospheric CO2 less than 550 parts per million.

What will it cost?

This will cost money, in more expensive fuel costs. However, it will not cost very much. For the world scale, estimates are commonly about 2% of Global Domestic Product. That is one year of normal growth.

Each individual in the UK is responsible for about 10 tons of CO2 each year, and estimates of cost for capture, liquefaction and storage in North Sea aquifers are about 20 pounds per ton. So that costs about 200 pounds per person each year. If energy efficiency is also increased, the cost may be only half of this - 100 pounds per person per year. Thats about 1p or 2p on each electricity unit. Will that be a disaster? Well in the winter of 2004 -05, gas prices incresed far more than that, and in the year 2004, the price of crude oil and petrol increased by far more than that. And nothing catastrophic happened to the UK economy. How much is it worth to keep the world habitable, and the oceans alive?

What next?

The component parts of Carbon Capture and Storage are all present. However the money does not work out yet, because a Generating company needs to pay for capturing the CO2 and transporting CO2 towards a disposal site. Then an Oil company needs to pay to place the CO2 deep below ground.

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer stated on the day before the Budget that: "I can therefore announce today that as part of the UK Government's continuing support for research and development in this field we will now examine the potential of economic incentives to encourage carbon capture and storage."

And in the text of the 2005 Budget that "Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a process by which the carbon in fossil fuels is captured as carbon dioxide and committed to long-term storage in geological formations. It has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel power generation. It is likely to prove a critical technology in global carbon reduction strategies, particularly for countries with fast growing economies and rapidly growing fossil fuel consumption. The Government is therefore examining how it might support the development of CCS in the Climate Change Programme Review, including the potential for new economic incentives."

 

PREVIOUS ARTICLES

2013
Sea Urchins Tolerate Acid Water
06/04/13

SHARK KILLS NUMBER 100 MILLION ANNUALLY
02/03/13

2012
A Climate Change Agreement for Children
06/12/12

Cate Change takes Centre Stage
06/12/12

Ocean acidification and warming decrease calcification in the crustose coralline alga Hydrolithon on
13/10/12

Solar Panels - Are they really clean emergy technology
07/09/12

Ocean Acidification may limit Phytoplankton
27/08/12

Acidic POceans - why should we Care?
24/08/12

Carbon Dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere
24/08/12

Jellyfish and Chips
17/05/12

The Effects of El Nino on Marine Life (2)
19/02/12

The Effects of El Nino on Marine Life
19/02/12

Protect Our Oceans
14/01/12

Decrease in shark numbers poses risk to Great Barrier Reef
11/01/12

2011
IAP STATEMENT ON OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
28/10/11

Vast Shark Sanctuary created in the Pacific
03/10/11

Cora Reef Builders Vulnerableto Ocean Acidification
02/10/11

Is Hydrogen the Future of Motoring ??
20/09/11

Marine Protection Bids Unveiled
08/09/11

Stan Ovshinsky and the Hydrogen Economy
07/07/11

Shark Fishing Banned in the Bahamas
06/07/11

Relationships between coral and fishes on the Great Barrier Reef
10/06/11

Emissions and Growth Continue their Dance
08/06/11

Acid Test for Local Action
08/06/11

2010
'Alarming' plight of coral reefs
12/10/10

Nature's Sting - The real cost of damaging Planet Earth
12/10/10

Hoga Summary
27/09/10

Great White Sharks 'Shrinking'
14/09/10

Swiss Tycoon sends patrol boat to save Serengeti of sea
14/09/10

Asia Demand spurs Brazilian shark kills
04/08/10

Plankton decline across oceans as water warms
30/07/10

Met Office Views on Climate Change (CC)
26/07/10

Ocean Acidification in 2010
23/07/10

The Great Barrier Reef is threatened by Ships and their Cargo
22/05/10

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION ACCELERATES
30/04/10

Talking Points:Japan: eating tuna to extinction
29/03/10

UK TSB INVESTS £7M IN FUEL CELLS AND HYDROGEN
07/03/10

M4 in Wales to be 'Hydrogen Highway'
12/02/10

A Boost for Clean Energy
28/01/10

Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef
20/01/10

Coral Can Recover From Climate Change Damage
20/01/10

Ocean Acidification
12/01/10

Impacts of Ocean Acidification
12/01/10

Chalk one up for coccolithophores
12/01/10

Coral Reefs are evolution hotspot
09/01/10

2009
Beware the "evil twin" of climate change
30/12/09

Hydrogen Power for Vehicles - COP15
20/12/09

Natural Lab shows Sea's Acid Path
22/11/09

'Coral Lab offers Acidity Insight
22/11/09

UK Funds Sea Acidification Study
22/11/09

UK Climate Targets 'Unachievable'
13/11/09

Marine Bill Enters Final Stages
12/11/09

Recovering Scotland's Marine Environment
06/11/09

An Iron-clad Partnership
06/11/09

'Freezer Plan' bid to save coral
26/10/09

Action on Shark Finning
14/10/09

Arctic Seas turn to Acid
08/10/09

Sharks pay high price as demand for fins soar
08/10/09

Diverse Fish Reduce Coral Disease
05/10/09

Pacific Nation Declares Itself Shark Haven
03/10/09

Shark Trade Limits endorsed by EU
27/09/09

Palau Pioneers Shark Sanctuary
25/09/09

China Vows Climate Change Action
22/09/09

Shark Rescue is here
21/09/09

Doctors warn on Climate Failure
16/09/09

How Global Warming sealed the fate of the World's Coral Reefs
04/09/09

A SECOND NORTH SEA BONANZA ?
04/09/09

Paradise Lost
04/09/09

Shark Tagging Mission is under way
31/08/09

The Hydrogen Cycle
19/07/09

Climate Scenarios 'being realised'.
15/07/09

Ocean Acidification - Calcifying Phytoplankton
01/07/09

Ocean Acidification on benthic biodiversity
01/07/09

In the Soup - Shark species facing extinction
25/06/09

Over fishing Threatens Shark Extinction
25/06/09

Student film highlights plight of the oceans
04/05/09

Ocean Acidification threatens underwater ecosystems
04/05/09

Drowning in Plastic
30/04/09

'Clean' Coal Plants Get Go-Ahead
23/04/09

Paving the Road to COP15: Adaptation and Outreach
21/03/09

The Road to Catastrophe
20/03/09

World's leading scientists i n desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change
14/03/09

Pollution to devastate shellfish by turning seas acidic
14/03/09

THREATS FROM OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
11/03/09

CO2 HIGHEST FOR 650,000 YEARS
01/03/09

SLOW PROGRESS ON OCEAN PROTECTION
28/02/09

Jellyfish and Chips
18/02/09

London Marathon Motivation
07/02/09

EU Gives Shark Protection Teeth
06/02/09

ACID OCEANS 'NEED URGENT ATTENTION'
31/01/09

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION - The other CO2 problem
28/01/09

Panel Warns on Great Barrier Reef
03/01/09

Coral Reef Growth is Slowest Ever
03/01/09

2008
Changes amplify Arctic Warming
17/12/08

Rise in CO2 affrects Jumbo Squid
16/12/08

Jellyfish Invasion
21/11/08

The Rate of Ocean Acidification
18/11/08

Ocean Acidification Impacts
18/11/08

Impact of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Calcifiers
20/10/08

Nature Loss Dwarfs Bank Crisis
10/10/08

The Creation of Artificial Reefs
23/09/08

Iceland - Fossil fuels to Hydrogen-based Economy
17/09/08

The world's oceans at risk from rising acidity
25/07/08

Coral reefs under threat from humans
11/07/08

Ocean Acidification - Plankton hold surprise for Climate Research
28/06/08

Anthropogenic Ocean Acidification over the 21st Century and its Impact on Calcifying Organisms
13/06/08

Mileage from Megawatts
12/06/08

Could US scientists 'CO2 Catcher' help slow warming ?
09/06/08

Sharks Swim Closer to Extinction
22/05/08

Wildlife Populations Plummeting
16/05/08

Introducing Hydrogen Power
30/04/08

Ocean Acidification - Technical Information
28/04/08

Carbon Capture and Storage - UKCCSC Project
28/04/08

Lemon Sharks and Dogfish - Hyperbaric Sensitivity ??
29/03/08

The GAIA Theory
26/03/08

Status of the World's Coral Reefs
24/03/08

Krill, Fishing Threatens the Antarctic
23/03/08

Marine Altruistic Behaviour - - 4 stories
22/03/08

Global Sea Level Changes
22/03/08

Climate Change Controversies - A Simple Guide
21/03/08

Sharks and Coral Reefs (One year on)
10/03/08

Shark Species face extinction amid overfishing and appetite for fins
28/02/08

SCCT Presentation Uptake
11/02/08

Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
27/01/08

An exchange of views on Marine Reserves and Trophic Cascades
25/01/08

2007
The Effects of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef
21/12/07

Microbial Ecology and Evolution:A Discussion at Metagenomics 2006
15/12/07

Habitat Conservation
28/11/07

Marine Balances and Climate Engineering
27/11/07

Oceans are 'soaking up' less CO2
20/10/07

Algal Blooms in the Ocean
08/09/07

UK Marine Bill
15/08/07

Tourism Vs Traditional Fishing
10/08/07

US National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks
29/07/07

Shark Depredation and unwanted Bycatch in Pelagic Longline Fisheries
17/07/07

Ecosystems: Coral Reefs
28/06/07

Shell-shocked
20/06/07

Ongoing Collapse of Coral Reef Shark Population
12/06/07

Shark trade restriction bid fails
12/06/07

Be nicer to sharks
26/05/07

Cascading Effects of the loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean
25/05/07

Sharks are vital for Coral Reef Health
25/05/07

Sharkless Seas
21/05/07