The Climate Mitigation Effectiveness of Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

The global community has been pushing for a rapid de-carbizniation of the energy sector in order to prevent the rapid increase of global temperatures.  One of the methods being supported are Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects for fossil fuel power plants.  The idea of CCS is to capture carbon dioxide from power plants and store them underground to reduce our global carbon emissions.

If the objective is to store the carbon in the earth there are various options such as unmineable coal beds, saline formations, and depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

Looking at the operational and upcoming power plants with carbon capture storage the majority of projects (44%) are using the captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery  (EOR).  Enhanced oil recovery helps extract more oil from oil fields compared to conventional methods.  The oil extracted using the stored carbon can be sold to global oil market and help make the carbon capture project more economically feasible for developers.  Although EOR makes sense from a project feasibility perspective it does not make any sense from a carbon mitigation perspective.  We need to ask start questioning the validity of using CCS projects for carbon mitigation if the captured carbon is just going to be used to extract a different type of fossil fuel (oil).

The graphic below summarizes operational and upcoming CCS projects on power plants across the world.

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