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Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Explained

photograph of tall factories emitting steam into the sky

In the face of a changing climate, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels is becoming an increasingly critical goal for sustaining life on Earth as we know it. One innovative approach that offers a solution to this environmental challenge is carbon capture and storage (CCS). But what exactly is CCS, and how does it work? In this guide, we will explore CCS and its benefits, challenges, and implications for the future.

Understanding Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage is a technological process designed to prevent large amounts of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. CCS involves three main steps:

  • Capture: The first step in the CCS process is to isolate CO2 emissions from sources such as power plants or industrial facilities that use fossil fuels. Technologies used for capturing CO2 can include post-combustion, which removes CO2 from the flue gases; pre-combustion, which involves converting fossil fuels into a mixture of hydrogen and CO2 prior to combustion; and oxy-fuel combustion, where fossil fuels are burned in pure oxygen, resulting in a CO2 and steam mixture that can be easily separated.

  • Transport: Once collected, the CO2 must be transported to a suitable storage site. This is typically accomplished via pipelines, which are established for moving gases over long distances.

  • Storage: The final step is securely storing the captured CO2 so that it won’t enter the atmosphere. Possible storage solutions include deep underground reservoirs, like depleted oil and gas fields or saline aquifers, where it can be injected and trapped below impermeable rock layers.

These steps constitute a closed loop that essentially recycles carbon emissions, thereby mitigating their environmental impact.

Benefits of Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture has transformative potential for the environment and economies globally. Here are some key benefits:

Environmental Impact

  • Removal of Carbon: CCS is among the few technologies that has the potential to lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

  • Climate Change Mitigation: By capturing and storing carbon dioxide, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thereby mitigating the effects of climate change and contributing to decarbonization goals.

Economic Incentives

  • Financial Opportunities for Landowners: Landowners can benefit financially by leasing their land for carbon storage projects, creating new revenue streams.

  • Job Creation: Large-scale deployment of CCS technology could create thousands of jobs, from construction to ongoing monitoring and maintenance of storage sites.

Challenges of Carbon Capture and Storage

While CCS presents numerous benefits, there are also challenges to overcome, including:

  • Cost: The initial costs for CCS technology and infrastructure can be considerable, so CCS is currently only being used on a limited scale. However, these costs are expected to decrease over time as the technology becomes more widespread.

  • Environmental Risks: Carbon capture and storage involves injecting carbon dioxide into geological formations. While this method effectively stores carbon dioxide, it also presents environmental risks, including leakage into groundwater or the atmosphere. To mitigate these risks, technologies like Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) can be applied. ERW offers a safer alternative that minimizes the likelihood of damage.

  • Long-Term Monitoring: Effective CCS requires careful monitoring and management of storage sites, potentially for hundreds of years, to ensure CO2 does not escape.

The Potential of Carbon Capture and Storage

Overall, carbon capture and storage is a promising technology for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It represents both a significant challenge and an exceptional opportunity in the fight against climate change. Innovations in CCS technology are rapidly advancing, making it more efficient and less costly. However, it also has its drawbacks, including high costs, energy intensity, environmental risks, and limited scale.

Who can Lease Land for Carbon Capture and Storage?

Landowners have the opportunity to lease their property for CCS operations, generating income and assisting with the reduction of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere. According to the Global CCS Institute, CCS leasing applies to the surface owner, not the mineral owner, because the surface owner owns the geological pore space and has storage rights.

For individuals interested in consistent action against climate change, embracing and supporting CCS initiatives—and incorporating sustainable practices into our daily lives—are steps in the right direction. By listing property for lease on LandGate, property owners can present their opportunity for lease to an exclusive network of high-intent energy developers and investors.


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