In the fight against climate change, one of the most challenging areas is reducing carbon emissions from power plants. To put it simply, burning things to produce energy produces carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that traps heat. This leads to global warming and other changes in our environment. With so many different solutions being implemented or explored around the world, there are many types of carbon capture and storage (CCS) measures that are being deployed by industries with high CO2 emissions.
CCS involves the capture of CO2 emissions from industrial processes such as steel and cement production or the burning of fossil fuels and storing it before it is released into the atmosphere.
The technology typically works at 90% efficiency meaning it can capture 90% of the CO2 from the power plant.
But how does CCS actually work?
Step 1- Capturing the CO2 at the source
The CO2 is separated from any other gasses produced at the large industrial processing facilities, such as the other gasses produced at coal or gas power plants.
Step 2 - Transport
Once the carbon has been separated it is compressed usually into a liquid state and is transported via pipelines, road, ships or other means of transport to suitable sites for storage.
Step 3 - Storage
The CO2 is then pumped into deep underground rock formations, usually at depths of at least 1km for permanent underground storage.
Carbon storage and capture has been around since 1972 and today it is preventing over 40 million tons of CO2 per year from entering the atmosphere; it is becoming increasingly more popular as more and more people begin to realize how crucial it is that we reduce global warming.
There are also some really innovative and new carbon capture businesses being created, such as Sky Diamonds, created by Ecotricity and Forest Green Rovers, Founded by Dale Vince. Sky Diamond takes carbon captured in the sky and produces high quality diamonds sold in premium retailer Selfridges.
The main barrier currently to Carbon Capture is the cost, roughly at $1000 per tonne.
But there is growing investment from companies to find cheaper ways to capture carbon emissions.
Alongside these developing technologies the best (and cheaper) carbon capturing technology already exists; trees and forests. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it in their wood and roots, storing it in the form of carbohydrates. According to the office of national statistics, in the UK woodland is estimated to remove around 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year which is equivalent to 4% of the total UK greenhouse emissions.
It is difficult to say how much CO2 a singular tree can absorb in a year as it is dependent on a multitude of factors. But at SKOOT we take the trees' first year of carbon removal which is 5.9kg for a mangrove sapling (the supertree that SKOOT plants) and say that this is on average how much one tree would remove a year. Therefore, it would take only 170 trees to remove one tonne of carbon from the atmosphere and these can be planted easily and simply with SKOOT and the Eden Reforestation Program at our site in Kenya.
Carbon capture is a necessary part of the fight against climate change. It needs to be implemented across the globe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While it is too late to halt the effects of global warming, it is not too late to slow down the process. It can be done via developing technology or through mother nature's natural gift of trees, but either way it is essential that we place more focus on capturing and storing our carbon.