Suitable geological formations exist on Earth to easily store enough carbon dioxide to meet a global goal of capturing and storing sufficient C02 to provide 13 percent of worldwide emissions cuts by 2050, according to a new study.
The study, published in the paper Nature Scientific Reports, said that drilling about 12,000 carbon storage wells globally — far less than the total number of wells drilled by the oil and gas industry — could provide enough capacity to store 6 to 7 billion tons of CO2 a year by 2050. That quantity of stored carbon could play an important role in helping hold global temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, the study said.
Conducted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Texas, the researchers said that a key factor in CO2 storage was finding geological formations that could withstand the pressure of storing injected carbon dioxide. The study identified locations worldwide that could handle such pressure and estimated that more than 10,000 wells drilled in these sites could hold billions of tons of CO2. Drilling 12,000 wells would be equivalent to the oil and gas drilling that has taken place in the Gulf of Mexico over the last 70 years.
To date, fewer than two-dozen projects exist that capture and store CO2 from fossil fuel-fired power plants. Those plants, four of which are under construction, will be able to capture about 36 million tons a year — far less than is needed to meet ambitious global goals. But researchers said the recent study showed that CO2 storage capacity would not be an impediment to expanding carbon capture and storage projects.