CCUS Tech: Climate Warriors |OpenMind

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  • The Development of CCUS Technologies To Fight Against Climate Change
  • CCUS technologies are a climate change mitigation tool
  • There are already 65 commercial CCUS facilities across the globe
  • CO2 storage is safe if certain conditions are met
  • Geological storage is regulated in Europe by Directive 2009/31/EC

The Development of CCUS (carbon capture, use, and storage) technologies is crucial in the fight against climate change and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal number 13, which focuses on climate action. These technologies, which have been in use since the 1970s, involve capturing carbon dioxide, transporting it, storing it geologically, and using it.

There are already 65 commercial CCUS facilities worldwide, with 26 currently operational. These facilities can capture and store approximately 40 Mt of CO2 per year, effectively reducing CO2 emissions. The Global CCS Institute reports that CCUS technologies are a powerful tool for curtailing CO2 emissions, as they are not hindered by technological barriers and only require certain conditions for implementation.

CO2 storage is considered safe when specific measures are taken. CO2 is a stable and non-toxic chemical element that does not explode. The geological storage of CO2 involves storing it in natural subsoil geological formations, such as depleted gas fields or saline aquifers, at least 800 m below the surface. These formations must have a seal rock acting as a barrier to prevent CO2 leakage. Continuous monitoring and control of the storage site further minimize the risks of leakage.

Regarding oceanic storage, which involves storing CO2 on the seabed at high pressure, some concerns arise due to the potential alteration of the marine environment’s pH and its impact on underwater organisms. As a result, geological CO2 storage is seen as a more acceptable and cost-effective alternative.

CCUS technologies offer various options for using and transforming captured CO2. Direct uses include applications in the food and beverage industry and fire extinguishing and water purification systems. Transformation processes focus on the production of high-value added products, such as fuels and fine chemicals. Ongoing research and development are driving advances in these areas.

In Europe, geological storage is regulated by Directive 2009/31/EC, which was transposed into Spanish law in 2010. However, regulatory development in this area has stalled, hindering future projects. Governments and international organizations should promote CCUS technologies by providing support programs and clear legislation. Europe has provided financing programs, but Spain has taken a different approach, using non-reimbursable tranches and loans. To promote investment in CCUS, reverting to a subsidy format would be more conducive to trust-building.

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