Capture, Utilization, and Storage 101

For many, carbon (CO2) capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is a new concept, but CCUS has been around since the 1970s using similar technology and operations to oil and gas pipelines. Learn about some of the most asked CCUS questions below:

What is CCUS?

CCUS is the process of capturing CO2 from industrial emissions so that it isn’t released into the atmosphere. CO2 can be moved to an underground storage (sequestration) area or can be ‘utilized’ to help make fuels, chemicals, or materials such as concrete and fertilizer, or in processes like enhanced oil recovery.

Why is CCUS important?

CO2 is a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change and removing it from the atmosphere can help slow climate change. CCUS can play a vital role in helping Canada achieve its enhanced climate targets, including a 40 – 45 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 2030.

Can CO2 that is stored be utilized later?

No, once stored underground, CO2 will remain there permanently. Sequestration is located in large geological formations deep underground. In Alberta’s case, the formation is over two kilometres beneath the surface.

How is CO2 captured?

There are several ways that CO2 can be captured, including solvent based technologies, physical membranes/filters, and absorbents. Alberta Carbon Grid (ACG) industrial customers will capture CO2 from their facilities before being transported by ACG pipelines to a sequestration reservoir. The CO2 will be converted from a gas into a liquid before being transported because more CO2 can be transported in liquid form than in a gas form.

Where can CO2 be stored?

CO2 can be stored in any location with the right geological conditions. Currently, the Government of Alberta will only grant permission for CO2 storage within crown land.

Can stored CO2 be released accidentally?

CO2 storage reservoirs are deep underground and geologically stable – meaning the reservoir formation has strong containment characteristics to prevent CO2 from escaping. Additionally, safety and environmental considerations drive both Pembina’s and TC Energy’s technical due diligence to support our current and proposed operations. All sequestration project regulatory approvals require that sequestration operators have an active and effective monitoring, measurement, and verification plan that ensures the CO2 is stored as intended.

Can stored CO2 impact groundwater sources?

No, underground storage for CO2 is much deeper than groundwater sources.

What role does ACG have in CCUS?

The ACG is designed to collect CO2 from multiple emitters and transport it to a sequestration hub(s). ACG is considering new assets, existing infrastructure, and a newly developed carbon sequestration hub to connect the province’s largest regions of industrial emissions to key sequestration locations.