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Climate Solutions: CCS vs. CDR in a Warming World

CCS vs CDR

The provisional State of the Global Climate report by the World Meteorological Organization indicates that 2023 is poised to become the warmest year on record, with a 1.4°C increase from the pre-industrial baseline. Despite record-breaking trends in greenhouse gas levels, rising sea levels, and declining Antarctic sea ice, global initiatives to limit warming to 1.5°C are inadequately progressing, notably in electric passenger car sales.

INTRODUCTION TO TWO KEY TECHNOLOGIES COMBATING CARBON EMISSIONS: CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE (CCS) AND CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL (CDR)

What are they and how are they different?

CCS(Carbon Capture and Storage):

CCS is a technology designed to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from industrial processes and power generation. The captured CO2 is then transported and stored underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere.

Key Points:

  • CCS focuses on preventing CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas concentrations.

CDR(Carbon Dioxide Removal):

CDR refers to a set of technologies and techniques designed to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere or prevent its release at the source. It is a broader concept that encompasses various methods, including biological, chemical, and physical approaches.

Key Points:

  • CDR aims to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere or prevent its release, offering a complementary approach to reducing emissions.

CCS and CDR Differences:

Focus:

  • CCS primarily targets preventing CO2 emissions from specific sources, like power plants.
  • CDR focuses on actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere or preventing its release, providing a more comprehensive approach to climate mitigation.

Scope:

  • CCS is centered on capturing emissions at specific industrial points.
  • CDR encompasses a broader range of methods, including direct removal from the atmosphere and natural processes like afforestation.

Application:

  • CCS is often integrated into large-scale industrial facilities.
  • CDR methods vary widely and can be applied on a smaller scale, including DAC technologies and nature-based solutions.

HOW AND WHERE THEY ARE BEING USED AROUND THE WORLD?

Carbon Capture and Storage

HOW

WHERE

Industrial Facilities: CCS is integrated into industrial processes, capturing CO2 emissions from power plants and cement factories.

Sleipner Project (Norway): One of the earliest CCS projects, injecting captured CO2 into a saline aquifer to reduce emissions from natural gas production.

Power Generation: Applied in power plants, CCS technology captures CO2 produced during the combustion of fossil fuels.

Boundary Dam (Canada): A coal-fired power plant with CCS, capturing CO2 for storage and preventing it from entering the atmosphere.

Carbon Dioxide Removal

HOW

WHERE

Direct Air Capture (DAC): Technologies like DAC actively pull CO2 from the air using chemical processes.

Climeworks (Switzerland): A company deploying DAC technology to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

Afforestation and Reforestation: Planting trees or restoring forests to absorb and store CO2.

Great Green Wall (Africa): An afforestation in initiative spanning.

CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) Pitfalls:

CCS may create a false sense of security, allowing continued emissions and repurposing captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, undermining the transition to cleaner energy.

CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) Pitfalls:

CDR’s potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere raises concerns of becoming a “backstop” solution, potentially delaying the necessary shift away from fossil fuels.

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