Many oil companies are aligning their emissions targets to match the goal that governments set under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. That international agreement aims to limit global temperature to no more than a 2.0 °C increase above pre-industrial temperatures. To achieve this goal, most roadmaps require greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero by at least 2050.
The most obvious way to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is to reduce the consumption of CO2-producing energy sources, but we have a very long way to go to reach sustainable levels. In the interim, we must develop additional methods to curtail CO2 in the atmosphere. One solution is carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology. The initial step is to capture CO2 and prevent it from entering the atmosphere. Next, we can use the CO2 and / or store it underground. CO2 has value as a commodity in a number of different industries, and revenue from selling this commodity can help defray the costs of capture and transportation of the gas. However, current demand for CO2 is not significant enough to account for all of the gas we might target for capture. For the rest of the captured CO2, there is an elegant solution: put it back in the ground.
CCUS has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere. Known subsurface reservoirs are capable of storing large quantities of CO2. In 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean storage potential of 3,000 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide.1USGS. (n.d.). How much carbon dioxide can the United States store via geologic sequestration? Retrieved 10/27/2020, from https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-much-carbon-dioxide-can-united-states-store-geologic-sequestration? For reference, the International Energy Agency reported global 2019 emissions at 33 Gt.2International Energy Agency. (2020). Global CO2 emissions in 2019. Retrieved 10/27/2020, from https://www.iea.org/articles/global-co2-emissions-in-2019 If implemented at a global scale, CCUS technology could significantly reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. New regulatory and financial incentives have led to CCUS becoming one of the most important next-generation low-greenhouse gas emissions technologies.
Image Credits: DOE