What is Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage?

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The technologies used to capture, use or permanently store carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from human activity are collectively known as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCUS. But why have they been developed and how do they work? Click on the icons at the bottom of this page for more detail.

CO2, which is a greenhouse gas, is emitted from a range of human activities that include the production of cement, iron, steel, chemicals, heat, power generation, agriculture and transport. Sources of CO2 include the production of cement, iron, steel, chemicals, heat, power generation, agriculture and transport. For a number of important industrial processes, such as steel and cement manufacture, CCUS is currently the most effective and efficient technology for achieving significant CO2 emission reductions.

The CO2 captured at an industrial facility is compressed and transported by ship or pipeline to a geological formation deep below ground for permanent storage. Alternatively, CO2 can be used to make useful products, such as building materials or consumer goods. This is known as valorisation, where the CO2 becomes a raw material rather than a waste by-product.

A shared CO2 transport and storage infrastructure that many industries can use is an efficient and cost-effective way to meet climate targets through emissions reduction while protecting Europe’s industries from rising carbon prices. A CO2 network for Europe’s industry overcomes the notion of “unavoidable” CO2 and enables industry to deeply decarbonise. By doing so, it protects jobs and welfare and ensures governments are able to fulfil their obligations under binding international targets.

For more on the role of CCS for industry, read Bellona’s An Industry’s Guide to Climate Action. On the role of CCU for industry, read DECHEMA’s study on low-carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry

The European Commission is supporting CCUS through a range of policy initiatives, including its Innovation Fund, the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) and the Connecting Europe Facility.

CCS and CO2 utilisation projects have been operating worldwide for decades:

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Carbon capture and storage

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Carbon capture and utilisation