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Future Energy: Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS), answer to energy sector problems?

Future Energy options: Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a new-age concept of utilizing the carbon emission from various industrial units and fossil fuel-based power generation units, to further use the concentrated carbon dioxide (CO2). The three-step process is key in controlling emissions and tackling global warming. The emitted CO2 is captured, transported via ships or underground storage units, and stored for further use. The concept is a solution to many problems at once as it not only controls excess CO2 from escaping into the layers of the atmosphere but also provides the same for processes and functions which require it, at a much lower cost.

CCUS has emerged as a game changer for developing countries like India and China, which are under constant observation by developed nations for their carbon emission levels. The energy demand can be met with lower emission levels.

Role of CCUS in oil recovery

Although carbon dioxide has many industrial uses, one of the standout ways to utilize the same is to enhance oil recovery (EOR) from depleted crude oil reservoirs. An article published by Boqiang Lin and Zhizhou Tan in the Journal of Cleaner Production, explains how captured CO2 is injected into the depleted reservoirs, which in turn enhances its production by reducing the viscosity of the oil and increasing the pressure of displacement. Although a part of the carbon dioxide is permanently confined underground, in the process, the combination of CCUS and EOR provides economic benefits in the whole operation of crude oil production, while also giving out environmental benefits.

Contribution to circular bio-economy and future energy options

Lena Mikhelkis and Venkatesh Govindarajan, through their article published in the Sustainability journal, raise a very valid argument in favour of CCUS. Since countries like Sweden are aspiring to become CO2-neutral by 2045, CCUS would play a vital role in achieving the targets. The authors stress how emitted CO2 impacts several layers of the atmosphere, such as the lithosphere, technosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Since Stockholm Exergi has proposed a waste-to-energy incineration plant in Lovsta, CCUS is the technology which is helping it achieve carbon dioxide negativity. The paper also stresses the role of CCUS in promoting a circular bi-economy through waste-to-energy incineration plants, which use petro-plastics. Although, circularity, in this case, means recovery of energy from materials, which are generally not recycled because of their non-recyclable nature.

CCUS can develop as an effective means to reduce the cost of extracting oil and gas and help save the environment in near future. However, experts believe, there is a need to incentivise and subsidize the installation process. It is a process which requires huge financial investment and tax rebates by governments across the world can boost investments in the sector by private players. However, the long-term benefits of CCUS are much greater than the monetary investment.

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