In 2015 the UN member states singed the “Paris Agreement”, in which they pledged to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since then the growth in energy consumption has declined globally, but the transformation to clean energy is still too slow. At the current rate of emissions the global carbon dioxide budget for the period to 2100 will already be spent sometime between 2025 and 2030. Therefore, to avoid global warming effects, there is a need for tougher measures. Negative emissions is such a measure.
“Negative emissions” is a theoretical concept for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through technical means. More and more policy makers are becoming interested in the possibilities for large-scale use of negative-emission technologies, and with good reason.
There are a number of technologies that, if combined, create negative emissions. Carbon capture works by rinsing exhaust from power plants and energy intensive industries. Carbon storage is a process where CO2 is deposited at a storage site where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation. Combining these two processes is called carbon capture and storage (CCS). If, in addition, fossil fuel is replaced with biomass (bio-CCS), it is possible to create net negative emissions. This is because as the trees and plants used to create biomass grow they capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When this biomass is then burned as fuel the resulting carbon is captured and stored, thus resulting in net negative emissions. There is already Nordic research on finding the most cost-efficient technology in negative emissions for various productions and for small and larger plants.
There are already companies in the Nordic countries that are introducing negative emissions. Iceland uses geo-thermal energy at a large scale for production of electricity and heating, and now combines this with a CCS process where the carbon dioxide is pumped underground where it reacts with basaltic rock and solidifies, storing it safely and permanently. Finland is to a using forest residues to a large extent as fuel for power plants, and companies responsible for waste handling often use biomass waste for district heating and power production, and some of these are now testing technology for carbon capture and storage. In Norway a cement factory and a fertilizer factory are introducing carbon capture technologies and are also testing how using biomass as fuel would affect the production process and their final products.
The pioneering companies are using CCS not only because it is good for the community and for the environment, but also because they believe it will be good for business.
At Nordic clean Energy week, you will meet some of these companies and hear their own arguments and experiences.
Sign up for the event at Aalborg University Campus in Copenhagen at May 24th; SUSTAINABLE FUTURE ENERGY SYSTEMS – SMARTER, INTEGRATED AND CO2-NEGATIVE.