Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), or carbon sequestration, is a means of separating out carbon dioxide when burning fossil fuels, collecting it and subsequently “dumping” it underground or in the sea. CCS is an integrated concept which consists of three components comprising of CO2 capture, transport and storage (which also includes measurement, monitoring and verification).
It is also one of the flexibility mechanisms defined under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon capture produces a concentrated stream of CO2 that can be compressed, transported and eventually stored. Some capture technologies are economically feasible under specific conditions while others remain in the research stages. According to U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of electricity could rise by 30 per cent via carbon capture for new integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units. The price jump could be as much as 80 per cent if retrofitted to existing pulverized coal (PC) units and also result in reduction of the net electricity production by 20 to 30 per cent as the power generated will be used by the same plant to capture and compress the CO2.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that India will be among the top three emitters of the world by 2030 in terms of total CO2 emitted each year (it is currently ranked sixth). According to World Coal Association, coal use is forecast to rise by over 60 percent over this same period, with developing countries responsible for 97 percent of this increase, primarily to meet increased rates of electrification. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that CCS can contribute between 15-55 percent of the cumulative emission reduction effort to 2100, providing it with a central role within a portfolio of low carbon technologies needed to address climate change. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has studied a number of global GHG reduction scenarios and concluded that CCS is "the most important single new technology for CO2 savings" in both power generation and industry.
India has been taking a cautious approach towards CCS technology. The government has indicated minimal interest in domestic demonstration of the technology because of the concerns about the public’s reaction to underground CO2 storage, as well as due to the findings which suggest that India's CO2 geological capacity might be very limited. India requires further characterisation of potential storage sites in order to give CCS technology the full go-ahead. Economic feasibility also needs to be worked out--current CCS technology is financially impractical as potential investors in CCS will not be able to generate an acceptable return.
Public understanding of CCS technology in India is very low which might result in strong civilian opposition, therefore public education on the issues concerning Greenhouse Gas emissions is undoubtedly needed to get CCS technology off the ground. Currently, although India favours a sustainable development strategy and wants to bring in counter measures to curb the development of global warming, it still opposes the capture and store method due to the lack of technical parameters. Majorly also due to the economic feasibility, as there is significant potential to reduce the cost and energy demand of CO2 capture and compression processes through technological advancements and investment in research and development.
Author: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial