The potential is gigantic but it is still untapped. “There is a gap between what countries plan in terms of carbon dioxide suppression and what is necessary to achieve the temperature targets of the Paris Agreements,” says the first edition of the report “The State of Carbon Deption”, published a few days ago and conducted by several scientists from Oxford, the University of Wisconsin or the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
According to their analysis, two billion tons of CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere every year through carbon capture and storage. An additional 1 billion tons should be withdrawn by 2030, then accelerate to reach an annual 5 billion tons by 2050. The IPCC goes even further and estimates that it will be necessary to capture 4 billion tons by 2035 and then 7.6 billion tons by 2050.
Expensive technologies are expensive
In addition, new technologies would now be ultra-minority in these figures: they would represent barely 0.1% of volumes, the rest being ensured by traditional techniques more or less of human origin, such as tree planting, forest restoration or soil replenishment.
Denmark and TotalEnergies accelerate on CO2 storage
The slow start of “CCS” for “Carbon Capture and Storage”, carbon capture and storage, is partly explained by the debate that continues to animate the scientific community.
In Germany, the Federal Environment Office (equivalent to Ademe) ruled in 2020 that these technologies were not necessary to achieve carbon neutrality. And some activists point to the risk of leakage and high energy consumption.
In fact, capture and storage technologies today remain very expensive. Capturing CO2 directly in the air can thus cost up to $342 per tonne. However, the International Energy Agency points out that these costs are decreasing. Half of the underground storage facilities would thus be available for less than $10 per ton.
A national strategy
The transport of carbon also requires the adaptation of infrastructure, but a sector is being set up, by boat and gas pipeline. Technologies have also improved for storage and industry places high hopes in offshore storage. Experts are optimistic about the ability of saline aquifers, these deep saltwater reservoirs, to confine CO2 in the long term, even if extensive studies must be conducted before each operation.
The beautiful promises of CO2 capture and storage start-ups
According to IFP Energies nouvelles, saline aquifers represent a storage capacity of 400 to 10,000 billion tons. Another solution: use depleted hydrocarbon deposits, which can make it possible to recycle the infrastructure of oil and gas.
In France, the latest annual report of the High Climate Council pointed out the delay taken by the sector. In an attempt to remedy this, a national carbon capture, storage and use strategy must be established by this summer.