Fossil fuels have the ability to contribute greatly to a healthy energy mix. They provide reliable, affordable, secure, and flexible energy. This brings a strong base to any energy mix, and is why our society has such a heavy dependence on fossil fuels. Perhaps surprisingly, they can increase the viability of renewable sources by helping manage their inherent intermittency. However, the burning of fossil fuels results in emissions, notably carbon dioxide, making our current usage unsustainable. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) has the ability to prevent most, if not all, of these CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere, by capturing them as part of the energy generation process and storing them safely underground. CCS allows intermittent sources of energy, namely wind and solar, to benefit from this reliable base load source of power that is flexible (it can be ramped up and down to fill in for wind and solar when they are not available). CCS also unlocks the potential for carbon negativity (a net decrease in atmospheric carbon) through techniques such as biomass co-firing, where biomass is burned along with coal.
As our global demand for clean, reliable energy continues to increase, and as we work to expand energy coverage to those who do not yet have adequate access, we must be open to choosing the most affordable and sustainable solutions that are available. To create the maximum number of options, we must develop new strategies and improve on existing ones. CCS is a significant improvement on fossil energy, as it allows us to use these reliable fuels in a sustainable way. It can help us create clean energy mixes that can supply low-cost, reliable energy to the developed world as well as to those without reliable access, to help improve their standards of living and foster economic growth.
Fossil fuels supply 81% of global energy. Without CCS, we would need to replace 81% of our current energy infrastructure and that would put at risk the reliability, affordability and energy security that fossil fuels have provided us. The swift implementation of CCS is key to maintaining the dependability that fossil fuels have brought us as we transition into a clean energy future.
Fossil fuels are an integral part of any diverse energy mix, and CCS is the technology that enables us to continue to use them without negative impacts on our environment. CCS is not the sole solution to our energy challenges, but it is an essential part of the goal of bringing low-cost, sustainable energy to the world.