New Research Shows Hydrological Limits in Carbon Capture and Storage


“Water use is an important consideration in the implementation of Carbon Capture and Storage”

Our energy and water systems are inextricably linked. Climate change necessitates that we transition to carbon-free energy and also that we conserve water resources as they become simultaneously more in demand and less available. Policymakers, business leaders, and scientists seeking to address the urgency of climate change are increasingly looking to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to help meet global climate goals. While CCS minimizes emissions from the combustion of fuels, its impact on global water resources has not been widely explored. New research(link is external) shows that CCS could stress water resources in about 43% of the world’s power plants where water scarcity is already a problem. Further, the technology deployed in these water-scarce regions matters, and emerging CCS technologies could greatly mitigate the demand CCS places on water consumption.

Energy-producing facilities such as coal-fired power plants consume large amounts of cooling water. The type of cooling method used in a power plant (wet cooling towers, once-through cooling, or air-cooled condensers) affects water consumption. Installing CCS at these facilities requires that they produce additional energy to compensate for the energy used by the CCS process. With that comes additional cooling water consumption. In addition, the CCS process itself adds to the overall water consumption in a fashion that depends upon the CCS technology deployed.

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