Electricity Generation Choices
Carbon Capture And Storage
I’ve heard of CCS, but how does the process create “clean coal”?
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the only technology available to mitigate emissions from coal-fired power plants. CCS allows our economy to strike a balance between emission reduction and economic growth. Clean coal technology has the potential to remove up to 90 per cent of CO2 emitted from the burning of coal for electricity.
- CCS is a process that extracts and collects the CO2 emissions created from a gas stream in a power plant in order to compress and inject the emissions into deep geological formations. These emissions would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere during electricity production and fuel processing. CCS is a technological innovation that can be retro-fitted to current fossil fuel plants or incorporated into new designs.
- Canada-wide potential for CO2 capture and storage may be as high as 600 megatonnes (Mt/year, or roughly 40 per cent of Canada’s projected GHG emissions in 2050.) The federal and provincial governments have committed more than $3 billion toward CCS initiatives over the past two years. The cost of capture depends on the application being discussed and the amount of CO2 concentration of the flue gas stream being processed. The overall capture cost curve ranges from 2 Mt/year at $50/tonne to 50 Mt/year at $225/tonne.
- There are numerous risks associated with CCS development, including the liability in CO2 transportation and storage. Due to the high pressure at which CO2 is injected into saline aquifers, dissipating gas could potentially contaminate existing energy, mineral and/or groundwater resources, or move up the formation to the surface. A key issue in mitigating CCS risk is the appropriate selection and management of storage sites.
- Working group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website, http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/special-reports/.files-images/SRCCS-WholeReport.pdf, accessed October 22, 2012.
- Natural Resources Canada, “Canada’s Fossil Energy Future: The Way Forward on Carbon Capture and Storage,” Natural Resources Canada website, http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/publications/fossil-energy-future/261, accessed October 22, 2012.
- The Carbon Capture and Storage Information Source, “RD&D Funding Quick Facts,” The Carbon Capture and Storage Information Source website, http://ccs101.ca/ccs_pro/rdd_funding, accessed October 22, 2012.
- Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council, “Accelerating Carbon Capture and Storage Implementation in Alberta,” Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council website, http://ccs101.ca/assets/Documents/ccs_implementation.pdf, accessed October 22, 2012.