2 minutes to understand what CCUS (carbon capture utilization and storage) is

In recent years, the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage CCUS technology has been seen as a promising solution to support climate change mitigation. As clearly stated in its name, CCUS aims to capture CO2 emissions from various sources, utilize the captured CO2 for beneficial purposes, and securely store the remaining CO2 underground.

What is CCUS?

CO2 Capture (CC): The first step involves capturing carbon emissions from industrial processes, power plants, and other sources before they are released into the atmosphere. There are various methods for capturing and separating the CO2 from other gases produced during combustion or industrial processes.

CO2 Utilization (CU): Instead of treating captured CO2 as waste and releasing it into the atmosphere, CCUS promotes its usage for beneficial purposes. One common application is CO2 utilization is the production of chemicals, materials, and even carbon-neutral fuels like synthetic natural gas or synthetic gasoline.

CO2 Storage (CS): After capturing and utilizing as much carbon emissions as possible, the remaining CO2 is securely stored underground in geological formations such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline aquifers, or deep coal seams. This step prevents the released CO2 from re-entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

A promising solution

By capturing carbon emissions from industrial processes and power plants, the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage solution helps curb emissions at their source, which is essential to mitigate climate changes impacts, as well as supporting industrial companies in their transition to clean energy, as CCUS can be seen as a good transition between existing carbon-intensive processes and  a future low-carbon industrial world.

While the solution holds great promise, the CCUS approach can be expensive as it requires important investments in infrastructure and technology. Furthermore, some concerns have been raised regarding underground CO2 storage and the potential for leaks. Policy supports such as the Net Zero Industrial Act or the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy (ICMS) in Europe are exploring how to create the best legal framework for the CCUS implementation challenges. For example, the ICMS is discussing the possibility of fixing a minimal quality standard for carbon storage (Q3 2023).

With continued research, innovation, and policy support, CCUS has the potential to be a crucial tool in our efforts to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change.