And it’s easy to understand why.
CCS is the process of capturing CO2 from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere then injecting that CO2 into deep geologic formations for safe, secure and permanent storage underground. It’s one of the few options for significantly reducing emissions from the heaviest-emitting sectors: power generation, commercial transportation, and heavy industries like steel and cement. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), carbon capture and storage “will need to be a key pillar in successful clean energy transitions”.
While renewable energy sources will play an important role in the world’s energy transition, CCS remains one of the few proven technologies capable of significantly reducing emissions in these hard-to-decarbonize sectors.
But like all energy technologies, there’s a lot of information out there to digest. So here are just seven examples of why CCS is one of the keys that could unlock a lower-emission future.
Take a look.
Carbon capture and storage is one of the few proven technologies that can deliver deep emissions reductions in industrial sectors
Decarbonization is incredibly difficult in industrial sectors like power generation and manufacturing due to the massive amounts of energy required to keep facilities running. And all that energy adds up to approximately around two-thirds of all energy-related CO2 emissions. Currently, CCS is one of the few proven technologies with the potential to decarbonize these sectors while also being cost-effective and scalable.
The carbon capture and storage component of our announced low-carbon hydrogen facility at Baytown, Texas, has the potential to store up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
In Europe, ExxonMobil is currently participating in four CCS hub concepts across the continent – in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK. If these concepts prove successful, they could collectively capture millions of tonnes of CO2 per year.
CCS could capture more than 90% of CO2 emissions
It will take a range of technologies to meet climate goals. But with the ability to capture 90% of emissions at power plants and industrial facilities, broad CCS deployment could put the world on the right path toward a lower-carbon future.
Experts agree that carbon capture and storage will be crucial to mitigating the risks of climate change
As the technology becomes widely deployed, most experts agree CCS technology will play an important role in a lower-carbon energy future. Leading scientists and policymakers advocate for it, including President of the European Comission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has said: “The science is clear: industrial carbon removal is a necessary part of our climate toolbox.” In addition, the IEA has said “reaching net-zero [emissions] will be virtually impossible” without it.
Natural gas with CCS ensures a more stable and cost-effective energy supply than renewables alone
Natural gas coupled with CCS could be an energy combination of choice in a lower-carbon future. That’s because natural gas can keep up with changing energy demand, and it burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, like coal. For energy-intensive industries, those factors are especially important for reaching lower-emission goals.
In addition, retrofitting existing facilities with CCS is more cost-effective than a full switch to renewables because the natural gas infrastructure that powers facilities is already in place.
There’s more than one way to capture CO2
ExxonMobil and its partners are working to develop a range of CCS technologies through a portfolio of early-stage, fundamental research and development.
One technology we are working on is direct air capture. With Global Thermostat, ExxonMobil is developing novel processes and robust materials to efficiently increase the rate and quality of CO2 capture. While more research and development is needed, direct air capture is increasingly recognized to have a significant role to play in global decarbonization efforts.
ExxonMobil is also collaborating with FuelCell Energy on fundamental research into a novel technology that uses proprietary carbonate fuel cells to concentrate CO2 from large-scale industrial and power plants while generating power, thus lowering the effective capture cost. We are exploring options to conduct a pilot test at our Rotterdam facility.
In addition, ExxonMobil is researching new materials, like metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, which have massively condensed surface areas to absorb emissions like a sponge. And finally, the company is researching how to apply trees’ and other plants’ natural ability to capture carbon in biosequestration practices.
CO2 can be safely and permanently stored underground
Thanks to their geological makeup, certain rock formations can safely and permanently trap CO2 underground. In fact, underground geological storage of CO2 has been a naturally occurring process for hundreds of millions of years. Independent studies agree that geological CO2 storage remains a safe option to address climate change.
In the UK, ExxonMobil was awarded four licenses to test for potential locations to store captured CO2 emissions deep underneath the North Sea. We’ll partner with Shell on three of the licenses, and Nepture Energy on the fourth. The licenses were awarded by UK regulator the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).
ExxonMobil is responsible for capturing 40% of all the CO2 ever captured
With more than 30 years of experience in the field, ExxonMobil is a leader in CCS, having captured more CO2 than any other company in the world. ExxonMobil currently has the capacity to capture about 9 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year at facilities in the United States, Australia and Qatar, and is exploring multiple new opportunities, around the world. The company’s experience scaling up major projects and expertise in CCS makes it uniquely qualified to lead the charge in turning these plans into a reality.
While no single solution can fully address climate change, CCS technology will be essential to significantly lowering emissions on a global scale. Learn more about ExxonMobil’s carbon capture and storage research and innovation, in the company’s Advancing Climate Solutions report.