CCS could also impact air pollution

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) involves capturing carbon dioxide released by power stations and other industrial sources, and burying it deep underground. A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that in addition to keeping an important greenhouse gas (GHG) out of the atmosphere, this technology will lead to benefits and trade-offs for air pollution.

According to the EEA study, CCS technologies require approximately 15–25 per cent more energy depending on the type of technology used, so plants with CCS need more fuel than conventional plants. This in turn can lead to increased direct emissions occurring from facilities where CCS is installed, and increased indirect emissions caused by the extraction and transport of the additional fuel.

While emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) from power plants are predicted to fall when CCS is used, those of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are expected to increase in line with the amount of additional fuel consumed if no additional measures to reduce emissions are installed. Ammonia (NH3) is the only pollutant for which a significant increase in emissions is expected to occur, with emissions potentially increasing by a factor of three or more.

A case study is also presented that quantifies and highlights the range of GHG and air pollutant life-cycle emissions that could occur by 2050 should CCS be widely implemented in power plants across the European Union.

Source: EEA press release, 17 November 2011 Web link: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/carbon-capture-and-storage

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