The Murray Foundation
Energy Transition: carbon capture and energy storage
Fossil fuels are energy assets and a climate threat. Continued release to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide exacerbates, among other impacts, two major process, global warming and ocean acidification. Future energy requirements are such that although non-polluting sources such as wind, wave and solar are making an increasing contribution to power production they will be insufficient over the next decades to cover world needs.
Transition to a low carbon economy focuses on the likely continued use of carbon based fuels due to the continued availability of such significant resources for the foreseeable future. Technologies for de-carbonisation of fossil based fuels to counter its release to the atmosphere while making available energy will continue to be a major technical and political concern during transition to cheap and reliable energy alternatives
To ensure clean energy production two potentially complementary techniques are being studied, those of Carbon Capture and Energy Storage: both require technologies that separate and store global warming gasses. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants and other high energy consuming industries, transporting it to a storage site, and sequestering it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation. Although CO2 has been injected into geological formations for several decades for various purposes, including enhanced oil recovery, the long term storage of CO2 is a relatively controversial concept.
Energy Storage on the other hand is the increasingly seen long-term need to be able to store energy created by wind, solar, wave, ocean currents etc. (non carbon-based energy sources) such that power production can be made available as necessary irrespective of the instantaneous on-line production of these sources.
Energy transformation and storage will thus require new technologies probably including geological sequestration of products that can subsequently be recovered and transformed into energy depending on demand requirements.
It may be possible that the two technical requirements described (de-carbonisation and energy storage) will lead to converging technologies.