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Carbon Removal Method

BECCS

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) involves the burning of biomass to create carbon-neutral bioenergy (heat and electricity) and the subsequent capture of the CO₂ produced in the combustion process. The carbon dioxide is then stored in underground formations, resulting in a net carbon-negative impact.

BECCS

Introduction

BECCS is a highly permanent, available and scalable carbon removal solution. It is essentially a two-in-one solution to create greener energy sources and result in a net-negative carbon emissions. This makes it a key solution in green transition.

The sustainability and effectiveness of the BECCS supply chain, namely the crops and biomass products used for bioenergy generation, must be considered alongside its potential.

Method overview

The Steps

Below, we outline the three main steps involved in BECCS. This hybrid method combines nature and engineered carbon removal processes, while also producing carbon-neutral energy.

Biomass

CO₂ is trapped by plants using a process called photosynthesis and converted to carbon-rich biomass.

Combustion

Biomass is combusted and it produces heat, which is used for electricity generation. CO₂ is formed as a by-product during combustion.

Capture

Solvents are used to isolate CO₂ from the flue gas stream. The captured CO₂ is compressed to become a liquid and is stored in a CO₂ tank.

Transport and Injection

Liquified CO₂ is transported to suitable locations for subsequent injection and storage underground in geological reservoirs for thousands of years.

Capture & Storage

How it works

Carbon Sequestration

The sequestration step in carbon dioxide removal via Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage is facilitated by photosynthesis. Plants, such as agricultural crops and trees in forests, take up water from the soil and absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere. Using energy from the sun, a green pigment called chlorophyll converts the water and CO₂ to oxygen and glucose. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere and the glucose goes on to nourish the growing plant and create biomass. Agriculture, forestry, food processing, and municipalities produce large quantities of waste biomass suitable for BECCS.

Combustion and Capture

During the process of combustion, pre-treated biomass is burnt as fuel at high temperature (>800ºC). The biomass's organic material reacts with excess oxygen and produces carbon dioxide, water vapour and heat. It then generates carbon-neutral electricity using a steam turbine. The cyclone unit then collects the ash produced, generating a particle-free gas stream that is introduced in the amine-solvent scrubber. There, CO₂ is separated, and the non-harmful outlet gas is released through the chimney.

Carbon Storage

The CO₂ captured during the combustion process is compressed for transport via pipeline or ship. The carbon is pumped into the underground deposit until it is full, usually at a depth of more than 800 metres. It is stored effectively and permanently in porous rock reservoirs, such as sandstone, or in depleted oil and gas wells. However, the captured carbon dioxide can also be embedded in long-lasting products, entering the utilization market.

WHY USE THIS METHOD

An available, scalable and two-sided solution

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) plays an important role in the context of climate change mitigation. It is one of the most promising available carbon removal technologies, since it is scalable. However, its sustainability and effectiveness rely on the management of the supply chain. Emissions associated with cultivation, harvesting, transformation and processing of the biomass must be considered when stating the potential of this CDR method, and long-term storage must be ensured to secure permanent removal.

EVALUATION

Climate Impact

97
Points out of 100

(median score)
EVALUATION

Climate Impact

A study from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates a global potential to sequester 3.4-5.2 GtCO₂ per year via BECCS. However, the viability of this method as a negative emissions technology depends heavily on the correct management of the supply chain. The emissions arising from growing, harvesting, transporting and converting the biomass must not surpass the captured carbon.

Further, the captured CO₂ must be stored in permanent reservoirs, such as depleted gas fields, to ensure long-term removal.

97

Median score

93

Minimum score

97

Maximum score

5

Count

36 data points
EVALUATION

Co-Benefits

41
Points out of 100

(median score)
EVALUATION

Co-Benefits

There are fewer direct social and environmental co-benefits directly derived from Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage compared to other carbon removal methods. However, this technology produces both heat and electricity in the “bioenergy” step.

Therefore, BECCS generates carbon-neutral energy, thus contributing to the replacement of fossil fuels in the energy sector. However, biomass production can cause direct or indirect land competition for food production. Using agricultural residues as biomass feedstock reduces this problem.

41

Median score

23

Minimum score

52

Maximum score

11

Count

36 data points
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