LETA • CCS Explained: The Basics

CCS Explained

Understanding Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

What is CCS?

“Carbon Capture and Storage” or “CCS” is a term that refers to technologies that capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and store it safely underground, so that it does not contribute to climate change.
CCS includes capturing CO2 from large emission sources, referred to as point-source capture.

Point-source capture is when a large emission source, like an industrial facility or power station, is equipped with technology allowing the capture and diversion to storage of CO2, preventing it from being emitted.

CCS can be applied across sectors vital to Australia’s economy, including cement, steel, fertilisers, power generation and natural gas processing, and can be used in the production of clean hydrogen.

How does CCS work?

Carbon capture and storage involves three steps – capture, transport and storage.

During capture, CO2 is separated from other gases produced at large industrial facilities, such as steel mills, cement plants, petrochemical facilities, coal, and gas power plants. There are several capture methods in use – all are proven and effective, with different methods applied based on the emissions source.

Once separated, the CO2 is compressed for transportation. This means increasing pressure so that the CO2 behaves like a liquid. The compressed CO2 is then dehydrated before being sent to the transport system. Pipelines are the most common mode of transport for large quantities of CO2. For some regions of the world, CO2 transport by ship is an alternative.

Following transport, the CO2 is injected into deep underground rock formations, often at depths of one kilometre or more, where it is safely and permanently stored. These rock formations are similar to what has held oil and gas underground for millions of years. Close to 300 million tonnes of CO2 has already been safely and successfully injected underground. Fortunately, there is an abundance of storage available around the world.


Climate change is the most urgent challenge facing humanity today, and the science is clear that we must use every tool at our disposal if we wish to avoid the worst of its impacts.

The world’s leading climate and energy bodies – the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) – have both outlined a clear and important role for CCS in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Experts agree that CCS will be particularly vital for hard-to-abate sectors like cement and steel production, where no other viable solutions currently exist.

Simply put, we are running out of time to reduce our global emissions and it is becoming increasingly clear that any realistic path forward on climate action will include CCS. CCS is already happening around the world. There are currently 29 operating facilities with a cumulative capture capacity of nearly 40 million tonnes per annum, the equivalent of taking nearly 8 million cars off the road. There are now over 100 facilities across all stages of development and across a range of sectors, but much more needs to be done.

Scientific Perspectives on CCS Technology

Greoscience Australia

“Technologies such as renewable energy, improved energy efficiency and fuel switching are aimed at preventing the creation of CO2 emissions. CCS complements these technologies by addressing emissions that currently cannot be avoided, such as CO2 emissions from industrial processes like steel or cement manufacturing. CCS also has the potential to directly remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it permanently deep underground.”

International Energy Agency

“CCUS can tackle emissions in hard-to-abate sectors, particularly heavy industries like cement, steel or chemicals. CCUS is an enabler of least-cost low-carbon hydrogen production, which can support the decarbonisation of other parts of the energy system, such as industry, trucks and ships”

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“CCS is an option to reduce emissions from large-scale fossil-based energy and industry sources provided geological storage is available. The technical geological storage capacity is estimated to be on the order of 1000 GtCO2, which is more than the CO2 storage requirements through 2100 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”


“It is widely recognised that a broad portfolio of emissions reduction and carbon management solutions is required to reduce and remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the system to meet future emission targets. Some of these technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), are viewed as contentious. However, several decades of experience with geological storage projects across the world have shown that CO2 can be stored securely in the right setting with very low risk of leakage.”

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