Date posted: 29.04.24

A recent government-funded report suggests that the UK needs to invest a staggering £30bn in carbon-capturing systems designed to remove up to 48 million tonnes of CO2 from the air each year. This CO2 would then be pumped into disused oil and gas reservoirs deep under the sea.

Without such a scheme, it’s feared the UK will not meet its Net-Zero 2050 target. Energy Systems Catapult, a government-funded body, completed this study.

How does carbon capture and storage work?

The use of fossil fuels in power plants and industry generates CO2. The generated CO2 from these sources are then captured at source. There are three ways to remove (sometimes known as scrubbing) CO2, these are:

1. Post-Combustion. This process removes CO2 after burning the fossil fuel. Essentially, CO2 is captured from the exhaust gases in the power plants.

2. Pre-Combustion. This method captures the CO2 before the burning of the fossil fuel. The fossil fuel is partly burned in a gasifier to form synthetic gas. This process also produces hydrogen, which can be separated and used as a fuel.

3. Oxyfuel-Combustion. In oxyfuel combustion, the fossil fuel is burnt in oxygen and not air. The result is that the gas is mainly just CO2 and water vapour. The water part cools and condenses, leaving virtually pure CO2. This CO2 can then be transported and stored.

Once the CO2 is captured, it is converted to a liquid and then transported. Transportation methods include specialist trucks and ships when the CO2 leaves the shores. The CO2 finally arrives at injection wells at sea and is then prepared for deep undersea storage.

Globally, around 37 billion tonnes of CO2 are released each year, most of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil. Approximately 40% is absorbed by the oceans, but the rest stays in the atmosphere.

The Climate Change Committee, which advises the Government, has said direct air capture is a necessity and not just an option if the UK is to meet the 2050 Net-Zero targets.

We are in a strong position in the UK as the North Sea has the potential to store up to 78 billion tonnes of captured CO2. If we remove the required 48 million tonnes of CO2 a year, that’s over 1,600 years of storage available.

We will report on developments regarding carbon-capture when more updates become available.

Latest News