Building A Path To Zero-Carbon Emission

By Edmund Maduakor, Geologist/Projects Assistant, Levene Energy Holdings

The threat of climate change has roused an urgent need to reduce emissions and stabilize global temperatures. This is a fundamental call to work towards mitigating the possible impacts that could affect our ecosystem, communities, and biodiversity at a regional and on a global scale.

Before we delve into the subject, let’s talk a bit about climate change. Climate change refers to the long-term drift of weather in a specific region. This change is as a result of interactions between the sun, the earth and human activities. The energy from the sun warms the earth and the earth subsequently releases heat into the atmosphere. Some gases in the atmosphere envelopes this heat and thereafter, these gases act like the decanter in a greenhouse which led to it being referred to as greenhouse gases. Heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gases, some of which are radiated into the earth leading to a rise in surface temperature. This process is known as the ‘greenhouse effect’. Although the greenhouse effect is known to be a natural phenomenon, it is however intensified by daily human activities, thereby increasing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, which is directly proportional to the increasing heat trap resulting in the overall warming of the earth.

Over the years, industrial processes and the combustion of fossil fuels have been identified as the major contributors to the increase in carbon-dioxide, which has led to rapid climate change in our present time. This has resulted in concerted efforts in working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from various human activities to keep the earth habitable. According to the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) Emission Gap Report (EGR) 2022: ‘The Closing Window – Climate Crisis Calls for Rapid Transformation of Societies’ finds that the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to the 1.5ᵒc target in place. The report states that only urgent, system-wide transformations can deliver the significant savings needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, with urgent actions deployed in the power, industrial, transportation, real estate, food and financial sectors.

One of the more efficient ways to stabilize global temperature is to adopt zero – carbon emission through Carbon Capturing Underground Storage (CCUS) and it is becoming increasingly important in today’s world of energy transition for the following reasons:

  • Climate Change Mitigation: One of the primary reasons for the use of CCUS is to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing the concentration of carbon-dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. With the ongoing shift towards renewable energy sources, CCUS can help to reduce the amount for a significant portion of global carbon emissions.
  • Transitioning to Low – Carbon Economy: CCUS also play a major role in enabling the transition to low-carbon economy by allowing the continued use of fossil fuels while reducing emissions. This can provide a bridge to a time when renewable energy sources can fully replace fossil fuels.
  • Energy Security: Furthermore, CCUS can provide energy security by helping to maintain a diverse energy mix that includes fossil fuels. As renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are intermittent, CCUS can provide a reliable baseload power capacity that can help to ensure a stable and secure energy supply.
  • Job Creation and Economic Growth: CCUS has the potential to create jobs and stimulate economic growth by supporting the development of new technologies and industries. This can particularly benefit regions that are economically dependent on fossil fuel industries.

The term CCUS refers to the process of using technology in capturing and storing carbon-dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and/or several other sources such as fossil fuels, power plants, factories, transportation, and industrial processes. The captured CO2 is then stored in long-term reservoirs such as geological formations and oceans. 

Methods CCUS can be applied to include:

  • Post combustion capture
  • Pre combustion capture
  • Oxy – fuel combustion capture
  1. Post-combustion Capture: This technology involves capturing CO2 emissions from the exhaust gases of power plants and industrial facilities after the combustion of fossil fuels. The captured CO2 is the transported to a storage site and stored underground.
  • Pre-combustion Capture: Using this technology, fossil fuels are converted into gas before combustion, after which it is then processed to separate the CO2 from the other gases. The separated CO2 is then transported and stored.
  • Oxy-fuel Combustion: This involves burning fossil fuels in an oxygen-rich environment, which produces a fire gas that is mostly composed of CO2. The CO2 is then captured and transported to a storage site.

In the oil and gas sector, CCUS technologies can be used in a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing CO2 emission from facilities on sites. Other CCUS techniques include:

  • EOR Technology: this involves injecting captured CO2 into oil reservoirs to help extract additional oil. The CO2 is then stored underground in the reservoirs, effectively sequestrating the carbon. This process not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from oil production but also increases the amount of oil that can be extracted from a reservoir, making the process more efficient and cost effective.
  • Membrane Technology: This technology involves using a membrane to separate CO2 from other gases in the gas stream. The captured CO2 can then be transported to a storage site and stored underground.
  • Absorption Technology: This technology involves using a chemical solvent to absorb CO2 from the gas stream. The CO2 rich solvent is then regenerated, and the CO2 is then captured and transported to a storage site.
  • Cryogenic Technology: This technology involves cooling the gas stream to very low temperatures, which causes CO2 to condense into a liquid. The liquid CO2 can then be captured and transported to a storage site.

Revenues In Carbon Capture Underground Storage:

CCUS technologies have the potential to generate significant business revenues in a variety of ways. Here are some of the main revenue streams associated with CCUS:

  • Carbon Credits and Pricing: This is known to be one of the main revenue streams for CCUS. It entails the sale of carbon credits or the inclusion of CCUS projects in carbon pricing schemes. These systems provide a financial incentive for companies to reduce their carbon emissions, and CCUS projects can generate carbon credits that can be marketed or used to offset emissions elsewhere.
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR): Again, this process efficiently yields increase in oil production from the reservoir at an effective cost.
  • Government Incentives and Grants: Governments around the world provide various incentives and grants for companies to develop and implement CCUS technologies. These incentives can take the form of tax credits, grants or subsidies that can help cover the costs associated with CCUS projects.
  • Investment Opportunities: There are also opportunities for investors to finance CCUS projects and earn returns on their investments. For example, investors can fund the development of CCUS technologies or invest in companies that are developing or implementing these technologies.

Returning to the question asked at the beginning of this article, it is very possible to have a zero-carbon emission society. and this article has attempted at shedding light on the various uses of CCUS technologies. Generally, CCUS is an important component of energy transition towards a low-carbon future and is critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreso, CCUS technologies has the potential to generate significant business revenues through carbon credits, EOR, grants and investment opportunities. As the demand for carbon reduction and decarbonization continues to grow, the business opportunities associated with CCUS are likely to increase commensurately.