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Rationale

In the energy field, two major trends are on a collision course. First, the world's demand for affordable energy is growing fast, and over 85% of this energy is supplied by fossil fuels. Second, concern over climate change is increasing rapidly, and the burning of fossil fuels is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon management and sequestration is an approach that can reconcile these two trends, enabling us to continue enjoying the benefits of fossil fuels while protecting our climate.

When most people think of sequestering carbon, they think of planting trees. However, during the past ten years, research has explored the possibility of capturing CO2 from large stationary sources and then reusing it or sequestering it in geological formations or the deep ocean.

Fossil fuels are still expected to play a significant role in the European Union (EU) energy supply in the future, whilst it is recognised that other renewable fuels have significant potential. The EU TERES report estimated the overall potential renewable energy to be over 200 million tonnes of oil equivalent of final energy consumption for the 12 member states. Nevertheless, by 2010 renewable energy is only expected to represent 15% of all primary energy use. Within the EU there are still significant reserves of fossil fuels (some 200 years supply of coal, 50 years supply of natural gas).

The EU will, therefore, be dependent on fossil fuels. However, to reduce the impact of fossil fuel burning on the regional and global environment it is essential that when these fuels are burnt, they are burnt as cleanly and as efficiently as possible. This maximisation in efficiency means less CO2 emitted per kWh of electricity generated. The use of natural gas in combined cycle generating electricity at efficiencies up to 65% is a typical example and critical to the EU achieving the global emission reductions agreed at Kyoto. It is of course not only important that CO2 generation during utilisation is reduced, but that CO2 is not evolved in the production process.




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