Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


THERE are three trillion trees in the world, and they are all perfectly designed to capture and store carbon.

Unfortunately, as a consequence of industrialisation and the associated burning of fossil fuels, even all those trees are not enough to soak up the colossal carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions we humans are responsible for producing.

While halting deforestation and planting more trees will help, we need to do much more, which is why earlier this year I travelled to Norway to visit the country's carbon capture and storage (CCS) test facility at Mongstad, some 70 miles north of Bergen.

The visit was rather like wandering around inside a giant chemistry experiment, and I was very impressed with what I saw. Essentially, exhaust gases from a nearby petroleum refinery and from a gas-fired power station are allowed to rise up an extremely high chimney.

As the gases rise they percolate through layer upon layer of what could best be described as thin metal poppadoms peppered with holes. Coming in the opposite direction, down the chimney, is a liquid chemical solution that reacts with the gas and strips out the CO2. This liquid, which now contains the CO2, is captured at the base of the chimney and then can be piped out under the North Sea for safe storage in former gas and oil fields.

My visit coincided with the end of a six-month test project that had been commissioned by Shell and Scottish and Southern Energy, who are developing a CCS project at Peterhead in Scotland, were they will capture up to 15 million tonnes of CO2 and transport it by pipeline offshore for long-term storage deep under the sea bed. From what I was told, the tests had gone extremely well.

CCS does work and is one of the key new technologies needed to help address the challenge of climate change. Not only can CCS be used to capture the CO2 emissions inherent in the burning of fossil fuels, it can also be used to capture the emissions from those industrial processes that use huge amounts of energy, namely the production of bricks, fertilisers, steel, chemicals and cement. …

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