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23 Aug 2021, 13:31
Edgar Meza

Researchers and industry embrace CCS as strategy for climate neutrality

Die Welt / Tageszeitung (taz) / Clean Energy Wire

Researchers in Germany are examining ways to capture CO2 from the air and store it. The Competence Center for Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (CC4E) at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) has begun operating the first direct air capture facility in northern Germany, Die Welt reports. Though still considered a controversial topic in Germany, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) can be needed to deal with unavoidable emissions from agriculture and industrial processes on the way to climate neutrality. The plant filters carbon dioxide from the ambient air, cleans it and feeds it into a bioreactor along with hydrogen produced from electrolysis. Using special anaerobic protozoa, the gases are converted into methane that can later be used to generate electricity and heat in a thermal power station. The process could, for example, be used to produce power when electricity generation from wind and solar is too low, according to the university.

Hans Schäfers, deputy head of CC4E and head of the university’s Energy Campus Technology Center, said: “In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2045, a combination of the most diverse technologies in the area of closed carbon cycles and negative CO2 emissions is necessary." So far, the project has achieve a closed CO2 cycle and thus climate neutrality, he added. "In the future we want to show how negative CO2 emissions can be achieved in this way and with the help of renewable energy sources."

Another carbon capture and storage (CCS) project involving German gas and oil producer Wintershall Dea is moving ahead in the Danish North Sea. The pilot phase of the Greensand CCS project is set to demonstrate that CO2 can be injected into the offshore Nini West reservoir in a cost-effective and environmentally safe manner. The project may in future be able to store up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 a year, equivalent to a quarter of all Danish emissions, according to Wintershall Dea, a core member of the consortium overseeing the Greensand project.

Commenting on the CCS project, the taz’s Bernhard Pötter writes that despite political leaders and environmental associations cautiously keeping the issue out of Germany’s current election campaign, the new federal government will have to deal with how some of the unavoidable CO2 emissions from industry, especially in cement production, can be rendered harmless.

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