UK and Norway to Study Role of North Sea in CO2 Storage

Published on June 27th, 2009 | by

Can carbon dioxide be stored beneath the bed of our oceans?

Apparently so. The UK and Norway commissioned a study of the role of the North Sea in providing storage space deep under the sea for carbon dioxide from European countries.

Carbon Sequestration
Carbon Sequestration

“Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has the potential to reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations by around 90%, ” said Lord Hunt, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, in the UK. “The strength of the UK’s offshore industries means we are well-placed to store that carbon dioxide under the North Sea.  The benefits of CCS are not only environmental. There are clear business and job opportunities to be found in green energy technology.”

The aim of the study will be to build a profile for the whole of the North Sea, assessing each countries’ storage potential and projections of likely volumes and locations of CO2 flows, against a rising price of carbon. This will involve identifying network issues and proposing methods for managing CO2 flows across borders.

Although the proposal seems interesting at first glance, it raises several questions about the adverse effects of CCS.

Although CO2 has been injected into geological formations for various purposes, the long term storage of CO2 is a relatively untried concept.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), capturing and compressing CO2 requires much energy and could increase the fuel needs of a coal-fired plant with CCS by 25%-40%. Also, the storage of CO2 in the case of deep ocean storage, there is a risk of greatly increasing the problem of ocean acidification, a problem that also stems from the excess of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere and oceans.

Have the two countries actually considered the true environmental benefits of the project?  Or is this why the study needs to be conducted?

[Photo by thewritingzone]


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