Is CCUS the answer to climate change or just another excuse?

The use of carbon capture and storage (CCUS) technologies is considered very promising to combat climate change. However, some activists have expressed concern about its impact. While some experts believe CCUS is an effective solution, others argue that it could be used as an excuse to allow manufacturers to continue producing high greenhouse gas emissions.

What is CCUS and how does it work?

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is a process that involves the collection of carbon dioxide, primarily from industrial and commercial sources, with the goal of making it usable or storing it underground. Rather than simply offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, a more effective alternative would be to reduce the total amount that humans produce.

The carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) process begins by capturing the CO2 generated at a facility. This CO2 is then compressed into a liquid for easy transport. Once shipped, it can be used to manufacture other products or stored underground safely and efficiently. They use several methods to perform each step, including filters and chimney pipes.

It's true that many commercial and industrial manufacturers pay to "cancel" their emissions, meaning they continue producing them without facing direct consequences. However, it is important to note that even offset facilities can also contribute to climate change significantly. When you burn a piece of paper and replace it with a new one, you may think the problem is solved. However, you will still be left with a pile of ashes that you will have to deal with.

CCUS, or carbon capture and storage, stands out for its direct focus on reducing carbon emissions. By capturing these emissions, they are prevented from being released into the atmosphere and, therefore, contribute to curbing climate change. Furthermore, the methods used to store and utilize captured carbon offer practical and effective solutions to address real problems related to climate change.

What are the benefits of CCUS?

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) offers many notable benefits. Mainly, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The importance of addressing manufactured greenhouse gas emissions is unparalleled, as they are the leading cause of climate change. By capturing these emissions directly, we have the opportunity to have a significantly positive impact on the environment.

The reuse of carbon dioxide by CCUS not only helps protect the environment, but also contributes to making products more sustainable, even those derived from fossil fuels. The capacity of manufacturers to produce fuels, plastic and other various products has led to a wide range of unsustainable options that are constantly improving.

According to experts, geologically stored carbon dioxide has the ability to remain in place for more than 1.000 years, which represents an effective solution to reduce the impact of climate change. When deposited in safe places, this gas does not contribute to the alteration of the climate and remains there for a long period of time.

What are the drawbacks of CCUS?

Although CCUS offers certain benefits, it also has important disadvantages that we must take into account. On the one hand, there is a risk of misallocation of resources, which could harm other priority areas. Furthermore, problem minimization and operational complexity can negatively affect its efficient implementation. On the other hand, it is important to highlight that despite initial promises, the actual impact of CCUS on carbon reduction may be less significant than expected.

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) projects are capable of capturing between 10% and 15% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These emissions include both those coming directly from operations, as well as those generated indirectly due to energy use. Proponents of these projects claim that thanks to this capture they can be considered carbon neutral. However, the truth is more complex because they do not take Scope 3 into account.

Scope 3 emissions refer to indirect emissions that come from the processing, transportation or use of products that generate greenhouse gases. When it comes to oil and gas, these industries are responsible for up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, claiming that CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) projects are carbon neutral would be a significant exaggeration. It is important to recognize that although these projects can have a positive environmental impact by reducing emissions, they do not completely eliminate the carbon footprint associated with the oil and gas sector.

Furthermore, CCUS (Carbon Capture and Storage) can lead to misallocation of natural resources. Carbon capture and storage has been shown to require almost twice as much water compared to current human needs to achieve the European Union's goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of 1,5° Celsius. This is a worrying issue considering how climate change is making water scarce.

Does carbon capture, utilization and storage really work?

Throughout history, carbon capture and storage (CCUS) projects have had poor success in meeting their expected goals. Although the process is theoretically simple, its implementation is expensive and its maintenance is quite complex.

A study carried out by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis analyzed the most relevant carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects. These projects together represent more than 50% of the world's capacity to capture and store carbon. However, only three of them managed to achieve generally acceptable performance. Of the 13 subjects who were analyzed, three were not successful at all, five had less than 50% lifetime performance, and two did not even publish their data.

In today's business world, we can find numerous promising startups that are receiving widespread support. A good example of a CCUS project is the one that has managed to capture 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year for a factory in Norway. In addition, they have plans to ship and store an additional 430,000 tons each year starting in May 2023, from two Norwegian power plants.

CCUS, which stands for carbon capture, utilization and storage, is a technology that allows carbon to be captured and stored relatively easily. However, its effectiveness in reducing climate impact is still a matter of debate. Although this technology shows great potential, in practice it can often lead to more emissions.

Is CCUS just another excuse?

Although some may consider CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) to be just an excuse to appease those who care about the climate, it is actually a promising method. In fact, several experts agree that the world will only be able to achieve its sustainability goals through carbon capture, utilization and storage.

In 2022, the European Commissioner for Energy noted that the European Union will only be able to achieve its climate goal of limiting global warming to 1,5 degrees Celsius through carbon capture and storage (CCUS) technology. According to his statements, it is estimated that it will be necessary to store up to 640 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2050.

Although it may seem unrealistic due to its drawbacks, even the most prominent activists and leaders recognize the importance of addressing climate change. Furthermore, this action entails numerous benefits that generate significant positive impacts.

Is CCUS the answer to climate change?

With greater oversight and enforcement, carbon capture and storage (CCUS) could be the solution to the challenge of climate change. Poor reporting and resource allocation are common problems that negatively affect operations. However, it is important to highlight that these aspects are not usually fundamental for the company. It is positive to note that as more people invest in related solutions, such as the fight against climate change, significant improvements are expected in this regard.

While offsetting and reducing emissions is important, they only slow the progress of climate change rather than stopping it completely. This is where carbon capture and storage (CCUS) technology comes into play, offering a real opportunity for a long-term solution. Although it may not be the ideal answer, it is considered one of the best options available today.

It is essential to reflect on the importance of this issue: humanity would have the possibility of eliminating the main cause of climate change. CCUS, or carbon capture and storage, technology already exists and could have a significant impact in the fight against climate change.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage is the future

Generally speaking, the challenges associated with using CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) are more due to poor implementation than the method itself. In fact, when carried out properly, CCUS is reliable, safe and effective. If we want to overcome climate change and move towards a sustainable future, humanity should make the most of this technique.

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