General information

Carbon capture, use, and storage

Carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) consists of technological processes for reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere and reusing it as a raw material.

What is carbon capture, use, and storage?

Carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) encompass all technological processes that seek to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere by capturing and using it as a raw material for making new products, such as net-zero emissions synthetic fuels, construction materials, and polymers, or by safely storing it underground. 

It's one of many solutions for reducing levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) but also for giving those gases other uses, which are currently being developed.

Relevance of CCUS technologies in decarbonisation strategies

Making progress on decarbonisation of the economy and reducing our carbon intensity implies ceasing to emit CO2 and creating new technologies capable of capturing and reusing it. Such technologies help us be more efficient, find new ways of generating and consuming energy and create new products from waste.

Complete decarbonisation of the Spanish economy would imply eliminating the more than 300 million tonnes of CO2 produced each year to mitigate the effects of climate change. And carbon capture and storage operations could send the CO2 underground, thereby meeting the decarbonisation targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

CCUS technologies in carbon-intensive sectors

CCUS technologies can play a crucial role in achieving climate-related targets. These technologies are capable of helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in carbon-intensive sectors where it is more challenging to implement decarbonisation strategies.

In its report "CCUS in Clean Energy Transition", the International Energy Agency states that this is the only group of technologies that both contributes to reducing direct emissions in critical sectors and guarantees carbon neutrality for cases where energy use is hard to avoid. Likewise, after several years of slow progress, new incentives for investing and strengthened climate targets have given a boost to this type of technology.

Key factors in rolling out CCUS solutions

Technological development has become one of the principal means for slowing down climate change, the driving force of the energy transition, and a solution for meeting energy demand without increasing CO2 emissions. Technologies related to decarbonisation are interconnected, and we must continue working to introduce them into the market. Regulation is key, but it also requires more innovation, more commitment, and more collaboration between large and small companies in order to develop and solidify an innovative ecosystem around CCUS. 

Although many countries have already made carbon capture, use, and storage technologies an indispensable element in their national plans to mitigate climate change, it is fundamental that we remove any existing obstacles for the development of these technologies (lack of economic viability, regulatory barriers, public acceptance, among others).

Uses for captured carbon

In the energy sector, captured CO2 can be transformed into raw material for chemical products and new materials and could generate a wide range of opportunities: from polymer synthesis and synthetic fuel production to its incorporation into construction materials. These new products and applications have a common element: the need to drive innovation so that costs can be reduced and to guarantee that critical emerging technologies are scaleable and marketable.

Nature-based solutions for capturing carbon

In addition to technological solutions, nature-based solutions consist of diverse natural methods that can also capture carbon. For example, with reforestation, an enormous amount of CO2 can be absorbed through photosynthesis. Soil also has a huge potential for storing carbon, with the capacity to capture an even greater amount than the atmosphere and all living plants and animals combined.

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