Researchers from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London say that the UK has the capacity to capture CO2 emissions from industry and store them deep underground, but more investment is needed to further develop relevant technologies and infrastructure.
The Imperial College researchers claim that the UK is in a unique position to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems on a large scale. It has extensive oil industry expertise and a concentration of industries along the coast that are close to depleted offshore oil and gas reservoirs, which can store CO2.
They suggest that a large-scale CCS network could be built along the east coast of the UK. This would use a pipeline network to carry CO2 from industries to local storage facilities called hubs, which would pump the gas onwards to offshore underground reservoirs.
Humberside in the north of England is one place where a CCS network could work effectively. Humberside has several existing power stations that emit 60Mt of CO2 per year. A pipeline network could pump emissions to hubs based in Humberside and on to underground reservoirs in the southern North Sea.
However, the researchers stress that there are still a number of obstacles to overcome before CCS can play a significant role in helping to mitigate climate change. More research needs to be done to improve current technologies for capturing CO2 so that they use less energy and are more cost effective to run. The researchers also say that the UK government and industry needs to invest more money in research and development, so that rapid improvements can be made to CCS technologies.
Governments will also need to develop credible policies and regulatory frameworks, say the researchers, to assess and manage the economic, health, legal and environmental issues associated with the full-scale use of CCS.
Dr Paul Fennell, from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology at Imperial College London, said: ’The transition to full-scale usage of CCS is quite a challenge as we’ll need to store several thousand times more CO2 than we do at the moment for CCS to have a significant impact on our environment. We need to design CCS systems that can cope with holding, transporting and storing these vast CO2 loads from our industries and power stations.’
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