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Why carbon capture and storage are essential to saving the planet

Have you heard of carbon capture and storage? Read now to learn all about this world saving technological process and how forests can help!

Explore the intricacies of CCUS and how it relates to the forest industry

Leaders and activists across the globe are constantly seeking ways to save the planet amongst vast environmental issues such as deforestation, air pollution, global warming and natural resource depletion.

One process that works as a part of the solution to solving a few different environmental issues is carbon capture and storage — a process that works to keep the world’s increased carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere. 

Understanding the process and importance of carbon capture in protecting the globe is beneficial for anyone, but especially leaders in the forest industry who need to fully grasp the role that forests play in the carbon capture process.

Continue reading to learn more about carbon capture and storage including why it’s important to the forest industry.  

What is carbon capture and storage?

In the energy industry, carbon capture and storage is most commonly referred to as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). CCUS is a process where a team of technologies captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants or major factories and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. [1]

Why is carbon capture important?

We need greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide to trap heat from the sun and keep the Earth habitable for us and other species. However, too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be dangerous because it absorbs solar energy and keeps heat close to the Earth’s surface instead of allowing it to escape into space—most commonly known as the greenhouse effect. [2]

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at the highest ever recorded with the latest reading measuring at 417.51 ppm. [3] These record-high levels exemplify just why carbon capture and storage is a vital component in the mission to save our planet.

While the quest for the widespread use of renewable energy continues, the world needs to urgently work on finding a way to reduce the damaging emissions of carbon dioxide from modern-day power plants. The best immediate solution for this problem is carbon capture, utilization and storage. 

How does carbon capture and storage work? 

There are several different technologies used to capture carbon dioxide at the facility emitting the element that fall into three categories: 

  • Post-combustion carbon capture — the method usually used in existing power plants where the carbon dioxide is separated from the exhaust of a combustion process. 
  • Pre-combustion carbon capture — the method primarily used by new industrial facilities where the technology gasifies fuel and separates out the CO2.
  • Oxy-fuel combustion systems — the method in which fuel is burned in an almost pure-oxygen environment and results in a more concentrated stream of carbon dioxide made easier to capture.

Regardless of the method, the carbon dioxide is compressed into a fluid after capture and transported by pipelines and ships to be stored. In order to be stored long term, the CO2 is injected deep underground in geological formations — such as deep saline formations and coal beds — so that it’s not released into the atmosphere. [4]

Carbon capture, utilization and storage is best understood as a step by step process

The CCUS process illustrated by The International Energy Agency.

Why is carbon capture important to the forestry industry? 

While carbon capture technologies are essential to reducing emissions, it’s important to note the significance of nature’s role in carbon capture.

Trees naturally capture and store massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the  atmosphere as they grow, making them an important tool in saving the planet. In fact, forests and forest products in the U.S. sequester 866 million tons of carbon on average per year which is roughly 16% of annual emissions. [5]

The unique aspect of the carbon capture capabilities of trees is that the carbon remains sequestered for the life of the wood — even if it’s repurposed for items such as furniture or building products. That’s why many leaders in the construction industry — an industry that’s responsible for 39% of worldwide carbon emissions — are pushing for an increased use of wood in building products in place of traditional materials such as concrete which only produce more CO2. [6]

Some of the latest research on the subject has found that young forests may be the key to the most effective method of natural carbon capture. As trees grow, they function as useful net absorbers of carbon, but once they reach maturity, they end up emitting just as much carbon as they store which eliminates their effectiveness for capturing excess atmospheric carbon. That’s why forest management is essential — it allows for the planting, growth, and harvesting of trees at the prime time for carbon to be most effectively sequestered. 

In managed forests, the harvested trees provide wood for building materials and the newly planted trees are allowed to flourish as young, carbon capturing saplings until they reach full growth. A well-managed forest stores more carbon over the long term than an unmanaged one, making the wood and forestry industry a key player in the global fight to reduce carbon emissions.  

How we can help

At INFLOR, our forest management solutions are designed to help you nurture your investment, with all the tools and data you need to gain better insights and yield the best results. 

INFLOR Forest’s integrated and efficient management tools provide:

  • Ultimate mobility
  • Repeatability and scale
  • Cost reduction
  • Insights and better decisions,
  • And more.

Ready to explore INFLOR Forest?

Find out more about INFLOR Forest and request a demo today.

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1: U.S. Department of Energy | Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage
2: National Geographic | Carbon dioxide levels are at a record high. Here’s what you need to know.
3: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego | The Keeling Curve
4: Resources for the Future | Carbon Capture and Storage 101
5: National Conference of State Legislatures | The Role of Forests in Carbon Sequestration and Storage
6: World Green Building Council | Global Status Report 2017

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