Carbon capture and storage (CCS) garners less attention than renewable energy, but experts say it’s just as vital for a zero-emissions future. And a growing chorus is calling for it to shared with developing countries that have no alternatives to coal and gas.
The technology works by stripping out the carbon dioxide from factories and power stations and injecting it deep beneath ground in special rock formations where it cannot contribute to global warming.
It’s the only technology that can decarbonise industries like the steel, cement, fertiliser and petrochemicals, which all rely on the high temperatures produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
And in a world where forty percent of the world’s electricity needs are met by burning coal, CCS is considered essential for cleaning up the power sector, especially in developing countries that are relying on coal to join the global middle class.
The Global CCS Institute, which represents the industry, recently wrote to the UNFCCC (the UN body responsible for implementing the Paris Agreement) to make exactly this point.
In their letter, they ask for “recognition of the importance in transferring technology to developing countries” and say that CCS should be “seriously” considered as an option when and where appropriate.
China, Japan and the US, which have all invested heavily in CCS research for their own domestic markets, are likely to find favour with this argument, not least because it would give them a chance to export their technology to the developing world.
It’s vital that developing countries can generate the power they need to grow and escape poverty. In many cases that will involve the use of fossil fuels. By ensuring they have access to the latest energy technology like CCS, we can help them make full use of their natural resources while moving closer towards a prosperous low-carbon future.