Carbon Capture and Storage Technology May be Crucial for Climate Change Targets

First Posted: Dec 11, 2013 11:08 AM EST

Carbon capture and storage technology has the potential to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Yet there are issues with this particular technology and the various methods have been widely debated by researchers and the public. Now, scientists have revealed that the future availability of CCS will be pivotal in reaching ambitious climate targets in the future.

As our climate shifts and changes, it's important to understand what techniques can be used to help mitigate climate change. That's why scientists conducted a major research project combining 18 different global energy-economy models in order to assess the role of technology when it comes to reaching different climate targets.

Current projections for greenhouse gas emissions aren't pretty. In 2010, coal, oil and gas supplied more than 80 percent of the world's total primary energy supply. This demand for energy is expected to increase by two to three times by 2100. This means that without policies to cut gas emissions, there may be a new and huge load of carbon in the atmosphere. Yet this study identifies exactly what methods could be used to help curtail some of these emissions.

"Some technologies are more valuable than others, particularly CCS and bioenergy compared with wind, solar and nuclear energy, because the combination of the two can lead to negative emissions," said Volker Krey, one of the researchers, in a news release. "That would allow us to compensate for short term delays in mitigation by later taking carbon out of the atmosphere."

CCS is a yet-unproven technology, but it looks good on paper. In theory, it would remove carbon from fossil fuel or bioenergy combustion and store it underground. In combination with bioenergy, this results in carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere. The questions are if it would be feasible, available and how quickly it could be deployed.

In fact, the new study reveals that the future availability of bioenergy and CCS technologies will be one of the only ways to maintain the current temperature target. These technologies could help take some of the pressure off of other sectors.

"Unless stringent mitigation action in transport and other end-use sectors is implemented almost immediately, the only way to still achieve the 2 degree target will be to rely on carbon dioxide removal technologies such as bioenergy with CCS," said Krey in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal Climactic Change.

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