Fossil fuels underpin most aspects of modern life and most projections show fossil fuels continuing to dominate energy supply well into the century, to 2050 at least. However, the combustion of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), widely acknowledged as the main cause of climate change. For the foreseeable future, fossil fuels will also continue to underpin the security of electricity supply in the UK, regardless of what implementation occurs with renewable energy sources and nuclear power.
Fossil-fuel-based carbon abatement technologies (CATs) are a group of innovative technologies that enable fossil fuels to be used with substantially reduced CO2 emissions. Therefore, they can be part of the solution to climate change, while still allowing fossil fuels to make a major contribution to the security of electricity supply. CATs cover a range of generic options for reducing the CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. These include:
Higher efficiency conversion processes - the amount of fuel consumed and the associated emission of CO2, is reduced when conversion processes (eg power generation, oil refining) are made more efficient. This can contribute to emissions reductions of 10-30% depending on the performance of the old and replacement plant
Fuel switching to lower carbon alternatives - the main example for the UK is the replacement of coal-fired power generation with natural gas, which reduces emissions by about 50% per unit of output. However, there are other options such as co-firing with 15-20% biomass, which can deliver emissions reductions of 15-20%
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) - in which the carbon in fossil fuels is captured (as CO2), either pre-combustion or post-combustion and committed to long-term storage in geological formations. This approach can reduce emissions by up to 85% depending on the type of non-capture plant displaced. It is widely recognised that, to meet climate change objectives, there now needs to be a more urgent emphasis on demonstration and deployment of CATs, particularly CCS
CCS information sheets added
Four information sheets have been added and can be accessed by EG&S KTN members under the Our Group tab.
To find out more about CAT activities within the EG&S KTN, please contact:
T: +44 (0)7786 967197