Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere from sources such as fossil fuel power stations.
It involves capturing the carbon dioxide (either before or after burning), transporting it in pipelines or by ship and permanently storing it deep underground in suitable geological formations.
Fossil fuel power stations are responsible for about one third of UK carbon dioxide emissions, and CCS could reduce those emissions by as much as 90 per cent. The technology involves three elements:
- Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and other industrial sources
- Transporting it by pipeline or ship to storage sites
- Storing it permanently underground in geological structures such as depleted oil and gas fields or saline aquifers.
The government programme to implement CCS involves building four commercial scale demonstration plants between 2010 and 2020 and planning for wider deployment from 2020 onwards. The European Commission is also funding a similar programme.
For further information take a look at the CCS summary download linked below.
Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR)
We regulate the environmental impacts of large fossil fuel power stations by issuing EPR permits that cover the emissions of all substances, except carbon dioxide. Any power station that installs CCS technology will have the details included in its permit.
Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations
We and the Health and Safety Executive are joint regulators for the COMAH Regulations which may apply to some CCS processes at power stations.
EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS)
We issue an EUETS permit to power stations and energy intensive industrial installations that covers the releases of carbon dioxide. From January 2013 operators of carbon dioxide capture, transport and storage activities must have an EUETS permit. See our EUETS webpage for more information:
- class="standard">The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
Carbon Capture Ready (CCR)
We advise the Government on new applications to build power stations to ensure that they are carbon capture ready and could install CCS at a later date.
Environmental Risk Assessment for Carbon Capture and Storage 2011
As part of our preparations to regulate CCS we have carried out an environmental risk assessment (ERA) which we published in April 2011.
Summary of the key findings
- We expect to be able to issue environmental permits for all the currently proposed CCS technologies.
- We believe there is no need for additional environmental regulations to cover CCS activities.
- CCS involves using existing technology, so there is significantly lower environmental risk compared to using a new technology.
- CCS involves using existing substances so there is significantly lower environmental risk compared to processes deliberately producing or using new substances.