Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - Extract
written by HMG UK - Marine Bill White Paper
CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
5.74 Emissions of carbon dioxide (C02) from human activities are the major contributor to climate change and ocean acidification, the greatest long term environmental challenges facing the world today. The UK Government is committed to reducing UK C02 emissions by 20% by 2010 and by 60% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. These are challenging goals, and CCS is an important component in a portfolio of mitigation measures to help achieve them.
5.75 CCS comprises the capture of C02 generated on land by industrial processes, its transport and injection into geological formations. In the UK, most storage sites will be offshore, in formations typically 1000m below the seabed. These include saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas fields. After injection, stored C02 is prevented from escaping into the marine environment by sealing the injection sites, and by the overlying cap rock and pore trapping. Over time the C02 will also dissolve into water trapped within the formation and may later solidify through mineralisation as secondary and tertiary trapping mechanisms.
5.76 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (lPCC) suggests that globally CCS could provide 15 to 55% of the emissions reductions needed to stabilise C02 in the atmosphere. Others have estimated that potential storage sites in the UK sector of the North Sea are large, about 20,000 million to 260,000 million tonnes of C02. This would represent approximately 40 to 500 times the total UK emissions in 2005.
5.77 Recently, the Stern review reported that extensive use of CCS worldwide would allow continued use of fossil fuels without damage to the atmosphere. 55 It could also help guard against the danger of strong climate change policies being undermined by any falls in fossil fuel prices. By enabling and investing in CCS now, the UK can also show leadership to rapidly growing economies, such as China and India: CCS offers the only realistic prospect of mitigating the effect of C02 emissions from the increasing use of fossil fuels that supports the economic growth of these countries.
5.78 A number of CCS projects in the North Sea are now being developed by industry. These projects require both national and international regulatory certainty to go forward. The UK Government therefore supports measures to create an appropriate international regime and will ensure that a domestic regulatory framework is put in place to enable such projects to take place.
5.79 There has been uncertainty about whether two major international regimes permit subseabed C02 storage. These are the 1996 Protocol to the 1972 London Convention and the 1992 OSPAR Convention.45,5o Certain activities resulting in sub-seabed storage of C02 are currently allowed under these agreements (e.g. the use of C02 in enhanced oil recovery), and recent developments have now done much to clarify issues.
5.80 On 2 November 2006, the contracting parties to the London Convention and its Protocol voted to amend the Protocol to clearly allow the storage of C02 streams in sub-seabed geological formations. This amendment came into force on 10 February 2007.
CCS seems to be the most realistic way to try and cope with the disproportionate amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. The SCCT wonders whether there has been enough research into algal blooms (the natural CO2 absorber), although recent news suggests that the oceans are rapidly becoming 'saturated' and losing the capacity to absorb the additional volumes of CO2.
We shall be watching the Queems Speech on Tuesday 6th November with great interest to see if the Marine Bill is to be introduced in the forthcoming parliamentary sessions.