Carbon capture and storage is making a comeback

Despite the technology’s spotty track record, planned global CCS capacity is up 50%.

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After a string of relatively high-profile failures and cost overruns, point-source carbon capture and storage (CCS) — that is, capturing carbon dioxide directly from flue stacks at industrial and power generation facilities — fell into disrepute.

Many projects were shelved. And yet, in just the first nine months of 2021, the global capacity of planned CCS projects grew 50% to 111 million metric tons, which would triple the current operating capacity in the world.

So why the recovery? And what might happen this time around?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Chris Bataille, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University and a lead author on the industry chapter of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that just came out this week. 

Chris and Shayle talk about the state of CCS technology, the reasons for past failures and the applications where it could work, with a specific focus on chemicals, cement and certain types of power plants.

They examine the bottlenecks in deep saline aquifers and the capacity of these aquifers to absorb carbon dioxide. They also discuss the role of carbon capture and utilization, which could both improve the economics of CCS and displace more carbon-intensive fossil fuel extraction. 

Will CCS lead to unnecessary emissions? They discuss upstream methane leakage and whether CCS enables polluters. 

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