Carbon Sequestration

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Carbon sequestration can be defined as the capture and secure storage of carbon that would otherwise be emitted to, or remain, in the atmosphere. The focus of this article is the removal of CO2 directly from industrial or utility plants and subsequently storing it in secure reservoirs. This is called carbon capture and storage (CCS). The rationale for carbon capture and storage is to enable the use of fossil fuels while reducing the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere, and thereby mitigating global climate change. The storage period should exceed the estimated peak periods of fossil fuel exploitation, so that if CO2 reemerges into the atmosphere, it should occur after the predicted peak in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere by increasing its uptake in soils and vegetation (e.g., afforestation) or in the ocean (e.g., iron fertilization), a form of carbon sequestration sometimes referred to as enhancing natural sinks, is only addressed briefly.

At present, fossil fuels are the dominant source satisfying the global primary energy demand, and will likely remain so for the rest of the century. Fossil fuels supply over 85% of all primary energy; nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and renewable energy (commercial biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar energy) supply the remaining 15%. Currently, nonhydroelectric renewable energy satisfies less than 1% of the global energy demand. Although great efforts and investments are made by many nations to increase the share of renewable energy to satisfy the primary energy demand and to foster conservation and efficiency improvements of fossil fuel usage, addressing climate change concerns during the coming decades will likely require

significantly increasing the contributions from carbon capture and storage.

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