Climate change is how we describe the process that has led to rising temperatures around the world since the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century.
Temperatures around the world have always gone up and down over long periods of time in the past. However, temperatures are climbing more quickly today. This is because too much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are being released into the atmosphere. This amplifies something called the ‘greenhouse effect’.
The greenhouse effect is what happens when GHGs like CO2 trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Because that heat cannot escape, it makes the…
Negative emissions are what we call the process when more CO2 or greenhouse gases are taken out of the atmosphere than are being emitted.
There are a number of ways to achieve negative emissions. Some are based on nature, whilst others are a result of innovative technology developed to remove CO2 at scale.
Perhaps the most obvious way to achieve negative emissions is forests. As they grow, trees absorb carbon, which they either convert into energy — releasing oxygen in the process — or store throughout their lifetimes. …
At its simplest level, decarbonisation means the process through which we remove or reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) an individual country’s economy emits. It’s usually achieved by reducing the CO2 emissions produced by the industries that play a part in that country’s economy.
Many parts of industry rely heavily on fossil fuels — including coal, oil and gas — for their energy. When these fuels are burnt, they produce CO2.
This CO2 then builds up in the atmosphere. It stops heat from escaping, and contributes to global warming. That’s why it’s known as a ‘greenhouse gas’ (GHG).
Since humans first lit a log fire, we’ve been using biomass to generate energy.
But nowadays we can use biomass for heating or to generate renewable bioenergy at a much greater scale than ever before. How? By compressing organic materials such as wood, sawdust and by-products from the forestry industry into pellets.
However, by compressing organic matter like wood, forest residues and sawdust into energy-dense pellets, the resulting biomass can be used for heating or renewable bioenergy generation at a much greater scale.
Biomass wood pellets have a much greater energy density than biomass in its natural form. This means…
Exploring how sustainable biomass can deliver negative emissions. The 3rd in our series ‘Powering to net zero’.
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the name given to the process of capturing and permanently storing the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced when generating electricity from biomass.
When combined with carbon capture and storage, sustainable bioenergy can achieve more than carbon neutrality. In fact, it can be a source of negative carbon dioxide emissions, as carbon capture and storage permanently removes CO2 from the carbon cycle.
Experts including the Committee on Climate Change agree that negative emissions technologies (NETs) are essential…
Afforestation is what professionals call it when they create a new area of forest — by planting trees or sowing seeds where there were no trees before.
They’re what’s known as natural climate solutions (NCS) and are two of the most important things we can do to tackle climate change.
And for people who grow trees commercially, they can both play a vital part in making sure they’re always growing more than enough wood to satisfy the demand for sustainable wood products industries.
Reforestation is one challenge to deforestation. Deforestation not only reduces the ability of a forest to absorb…
In the world of commercial power generation, biomass is the term we use to describe any organic matter we can use to produce energy.
Biomass can also describe organic material we use to provide energy in our homes. The fuel burned in wood stoves and wood pellets used to keep domestic biomass boilers running are both examples of this.
Commercially, biomass has a wide range of uses, and comes in an equally wide range of forms. In electricity generation, it could take the form of compressed wood pellets — used in power stations that have upgraded from coal. …
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS) is currently being used to abate emissions across a whole host of industries around the world. But the world needs to deploy a lot more of it to achieve significant decarbonisation and limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Construction is responsible for more than one tenth of total carbon emissions around the world.
CCUS can help reduce the carbon involved in the manufacture of materials used in construction, such as steel and cement.
Steelmaking alone — predominantly fuelled by coal — accounts for approximately 7% of total carbon emissions around the world.
By 2050, the UK could be emitting 95–96% less carbon than it did in 1990, provided the necessary decarbonisation measures are deployed early enough.
The last 4–5% will be harder to cut, and will require behaviour change such as consuming less beef, lamb and dairy products. It will need more investment in abating emissions, like increasing forest cover in the UK to 17% and adding biochar to soil to increase the amount of carbon it holds.
Engineers have been injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into geological formations in the earth’s crust for decades. In the main, they’ve been doing it to drive crude oil towards production wells. Now they’re doing it to store the CO2 and prevent it from reaching the atmosphere where it could contribute to climate change.
Underground geological features are attractive potential sites to store CO2. In fact, some of the most promising are in oil and gas fields. This is because the type of rock they contain, and the formations they are made up of, are already known, mapped and understood.