CO2 storage

The reasons for CO2 storage

It is undisputed that human beings are affecting the global carbon cycle. Fossil fuels (coal, crude oil, natural gas) are used for energy, heating, transport and industry. The carbon bound up in these fossil fuels is released as carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and is largely responsible for the climate change we are now observing. Compared to pre-industrial levels, the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere has risen from about 280 ppm to a current level of around 390 ppm. If the concentration increases to more than 450 ppm, the most serious effects of climate change will no longer be preventable. Extensive information about climate change, the greenhouse effect, emissions, etc. is offered by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
The Kyoto climate protocol requires European countries to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases by 8 % from 1990 to 2012. The German government set an additional goal of reducing Germany's CO2 emissions by up to 40 % by 2020. In order to reach these goals, we need to use every possible method for reducing CO2 emissions.
Beyond energy-saving measures, more efficient energy production and consistent development of renewable energy, the current climate-protection debate is also focusing on the possibility of separating CO2 and then storing it in geological formations deep underground (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS). In addition to the process of burning fossil fuels, other CO2-intensive industrial processes- for instance in the steel, cement, paper and sugar industries- are well suited for implementing CCS technology.


However, CCS could be an important building block for reducing CO2 emissions beyond just Germany and Europe. In light of global population growth and the associated increase in energy consumption, CCS should fundamentally be considered a global measure.

The framework plan for the European Union (European Energy Programme for Recovery- EEPR) includes 12 CCS demonstration projects that will be ready for use throughout Europe by 2015. Assuming further positive results from the research, from the ongoing pilot projects (e.g. at Ketzin) and eventually the demonstration plants, the commercial use of CCS is expected to begin in 2020. The implementation of CCS technology requires the CO2 storage to be demonstrably secure and sustainable, and also that the injected CO2 can be monitored over long periods of time. Thus, in addition to developing the necessary technologies, it is also important to resolve all of the open questions as soon as possible. 

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