Climate Gains from CCS ‘Look Pretty Slim’
There is “serious doubt among energy experts” that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will deliver any climate benefits, Grist reports after a months-long investigation.
The fossil fuel industry is touting CCS as a way to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it deep underground. But “so far, most CCS power plant projects intend, very openly and explicitly, to sell their captured carbon dioxide to companies that will use it to extract oil,” Grist explains. “Through an industry practice called ‘enhanced oil recovery’, or EOR, these companies will ‘flood’ tapped-out oil fields with the captured CO2, forcing out a few more barrels of petroleum.”
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That’s where the math behind CCS begins to undermine the industry’s climate claims. A petroleum engineer with Denbury Resources, the enhanced oil company associated with a coal-fired CCS installation in rural Mississippi, “estimates that oil companies inject between .52 and .64 metric tons of CO2 into the ground to recover a single barrel of oil,” Bernard explains.
That barrel “will release .42 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere when it’s burned. Divide .42 by .64, and you’ll see that at best, the oil cancels out 65% of anything we’ve gained for the climate by putting that CO2 in the ground; at worst, we’re losing over 80%.”
Factor in the additional coal that has to be burned to power the sequestration process, “and your gains begin to look pretty slim.”