Carbon Capture and Storage Is on the Rise

La capture-stockage du carbone a le vent en poupe.
Over the past two years, the number of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects, mainly geological, has soared. The Global CCS Institute, which promotes this technology, lists more than 160 projects in various stages of development, in addition to the thirty that are already in operation. However, many of the projects undertaken in the early 2010s have since been abandoned, mainly because of costs and a lack of social acceptability. Will the same be true for current projects?

Transport and Storage Projects by CO2 Capture Capacity in Mtpa (Million Tonnes Per Annum)

Projets d’installation de transport et stockage par capacité de capture du CO2 en Mtpa (millions de tonnes par an).

Source: Global Status of CCS”, in 2022 Status Report, Global CCS Institute, 2022.

The storage of CO2 has historically involved injecting this gas into natural gas and oil wells to enhance their recovery rate (EOR / Enhanced Oil Recovery). The CO2 remains stored in the emptied well, although this is not the main objective of the operation. One of the first installations, in 1972, recovered CO2 from natural gas processing plants in Val Verde, Texas, and transported it to oil fields in the area. This remains the foremost method of captured carbon storage to date. The thirty facilities in operation worldwide capture just over 42 million tonnes of CO2 per year (compared with the 43 billion tonnes humanity emits annually), half of which takes place in the United States; three-quarters of the CO2 stored is used to optimise hydrocarbon production. As well as oil and gas wells, CO2 can also be stored in saline aquifers.

New projects are more concerned with capturing CO2 from industries such as steel production, fertiliser production, and the chemical industry, rather than EOR. Saline aquifers with large storage volumes are available close to the coast in the North Sea and in US waters, and these are currently the main CO2 storage areas for new projects.

The problem is that the capture of CO2 from factory fumes, which is the most longstanding technique, is still very costly and energy-intensive, and the solvents involved require reprocessing. It is also ne...