It is increasingly accepted that rising levels of greenhouse gases are
contributing to changes in the world's climate. One of the main culprits is carbon dioxide. We exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe. Our cars, homes, factories, and the power plants that light our streets, all release carbon dioxide into the air. It's also emitted when fossil fuels are burned for energy. But that's about to change.
BP is pioneering the world's first comprehensive industrial scale project to help eliminate carbon dioxide released during electricity production. At a power station in Scotland, we are combining a number of proven technologies to allow the facility to produce electricity using hydrogen derived from natural gas. Carbon dioxide removed in the process will be captured and sent to an oil field about 150 miles offshore, where it will be safely returned to the natural environment where it came from–a reservoir 2.5 miles below the seabed-and stored safely and indefinitely.
Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to fall by 90% as a result of the project.
But the project won't just have environmental benefits. It will actually enhance the recoverability of oil. In fact, returning carbon dioxide to the reservoir could increase the amount of oil extracted from the field by up to 40 million additional barrels. This particular North Sea oil field is scheduled to cease production within the next two years.The carbon return process could extend that life span by 15 or even 20 years, which in turn would provide a boost for jobs and the economy. BP and partners
plan to invest $600 million to make this facility a reality. When fully operational, the project is expected to capture and store around 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, while providing 'carbon-free' electricity to the equivalent of 250,000 homes. If applied to just 5% of the new electricity-generating capacity the world is projected to need by 2050, we could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by around 1 billion tons a year. We expect to complete front-end engineering design by the second half of 2006. If an economic review is successful, the facility could begin operation in 2009. This facility will be the first of its kind. But the ability to create electricity at scale with virtually no carbon dioxide emissions holds great potential as a solution to the challenge of climate change.
It's a start.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.