What carbon capture and storage might look like. Image via co2storage.org.uk
If we were to speak long term (really, really long term), we’d need better energy efficiency and more renewable energy sources. Notwithstanding this, there’s no need to talk about that here, as so many have already tackled that problem.
What could really prove to be useful however, is the plan conceived to aid Europe’s climate goals, (the continent incidentally, may very well depend on it). A promising technology known as Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the subject of a proposal for European legislation.
CCS is an alternative approach to the CO2 issue, which sequesters (captures) the greenhouse gas, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. The technology necessary for storage is already available and it’s estimated that if it were applied to your average power plant it could reduce emissions by 80-90%.
Studies have shown that that the best ‘storage place’ would be at 1000 meters under the ground. Most oil and gas fields are ideal storage places, having contained high-pressure CO2 for millions of years. This process can also boost the quantity of gas and oil harvested, thus rendering it commercially appealing.
Up to 2,000 giga tons a year could be stored annually with this process, accounting for only about 1/12 of the total emissions. However, by 2050, roughly 90% could be stored this way.
Unfortunately, the technology won’t be passed into legislation until around 2020, despite the fact it has already met popular support in the EU. Still, the CCS potential is huge, and it should be used!