Geological Storage of CO2 Emissions Only Viable if Leakage Kept to Less Than 1% in 1000 Years

power plant pollution photo

photo: Alex Proimos via flickr

Even with all the serious doubts about its scalability or financial viability, carbon capture and storage repeatedly continues to get talked up as a key part of a future low-carbon energy economy. Adding to the practical issues swirling around CCS is this bit, from research just published in Nature Geoscience from Gary Shaffer of the Niels Bohr Institute.Shaffer addressed long term storage and the possibility of leakage of stored CO2 and its effects,

His results show that leakage of the stored CO2 may bring about large atmosphere warming, large sea level rise and oxygen depletion, acidification and elevated CO2 concentrations in the ocean.

Storage of CO2 in the deep ocean is a poor choice since this creates grave problems for deep sea life and since CO2 stored this way returns to the atmosphere relatively quickly, bringing back the global warming.

Geological storage may be more effective in delaying the return of the warming and associated consequences but only if a CO2 leakage of 1 % or less per thousand years can be obtained. (Science Daily)

Shaffer notes that it may technically be possible to counter leakage with a re-sequestration program, but that practically it would be very difficult to gauge the rate of global leakage to counter, plus such a system would have to be done over a period of thousands of years.

Actually Reducing Emissions Better Than Capturing Them
Summing up, Shaffer hits the nail on the head: "The dangers of carbon sequestration are real and the development of this technique should not be used as an argument for continued high fossil fuel emissions. On the contrary, we should greatly limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for massive carbon sequestration and thus reduce unwanted consequences and burdens over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2."

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More on Carbon Capture & Storage:
New Report Finds Carbon Capture & Sequestration "Profoundly Non-Feasible"
Stopping Deforestation, Greening Agriculture Better Than Carbon Capture & Storage: UNEP
Carbon Capture And Storage Will Happen - Here's Why We Should Support It
Another Major Blow for Carbon Capture, This Time It Involves the "C" Word

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