World can likely capture and store enough carbon dioxide to meet climate targets

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The world is currently on track to fulfil scenarios on diverting atmospheric CO2 to underground reservoirs, according to a new EPSRC-supported study by Imperial College London.

The capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) underground is one of the key components of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) reports keeping global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be used alongside other interventions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification of the transportation sector.

Dr Christopher Zahasky Department of Earth Science and Engineering said, “Our study shows that if climate change targets are not met by 2100, it won’t be for a lack of carbon capture and storage space”.

The IPCC used models to create around 1,200 technology scenarios whereby climate change targets are met using a mix of these interventions, most of which require the use of CCS. Now a new analysis from Imperial College London suggests that just 2,700 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) would be sufficient to meet the IPCC’s global warming targets. This is far less than leading estimates by academic and industry groups of what is available, which suggest there is more than 10,000 Gt of CO2 storage space globally.

It also found that that the current rate of growth in the installed capacity of CCS is on track to meet some of the targets identified in IPCC reports, and that research and commercial efforts should focus on maintaining this growth while identifying enough underground space to store this much CO2.

This project was funded as part of the UK Centre for Carbon Capture & Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) and the findings are published in Energy & Environmental Science.