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Sequestration of Carbon Di Oxide (CO2) in the Dutch Part of North Sea

October 15th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in CO2-Sequestration

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Sequestration of Carbon Di Oxide (CO2) in the Dutch Part of North Sea

Nov 2002

A bilingual (Dutch and English) popular scientific report on the
possible effects (on the seabed and organisms) and consequences of
dumping and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) on and in the seabed
of the Dutch Continental Shelf (known in the Netherlands by the
acronym NCP).

The report contains advice based on this information to Directie Noordzee about
the scientific, social and political consequences of dumping CO2 in the
Dutch part of the North Sea, so that Directie Noordzee can determine
what stance to adopt for the London Dumping Convention.


Greenhouse effect

During the last 420,000 years the average CO2 concentration on earth
has varied between 180 and 280 particles per million per volume
(ppmv). However, since the industrial revolution, more and more CO2
has ended up in the atmosphere as a result of the increasing use of fossil
fuels; the current concentration is 370 ppmv. Furthermore, it is
estimated that if nothing changes, by 2100 this concentration will be
approximately 750 ppmv. It is thus assumed that the CO2 concentration
in the atmosphere will rise to an unacceptable level in the next 500
years, as this rise will lead to a global strengthening of the greenhouse
effect and associated climate change.

One of the results of the 1997 Kyoto Climate Conference was the
commitment by all EU countries to reduce annual emissions of
greenhouse gases (including CO2) in the period 2008-2012 by eight
percent with respect to the 1990 level. In 1998, the Netherlands agreed
to this under certain conditions, and the joint objective was translated
into a national reduction of six percent with respect to the 1990 level, to
be achieved in the period 2008-2012.

The average worldwide anthropogenic emission of CO2 is approximately
7.4 gigatons C per year (1997). This will rise to 26 GtC/year by 2100 (1
gigaton is 109 ton). The total emission of CO2 for the Netherlands in
2000 was 50 Mt C (106 ton).

Sources of CO2 include: power stations, industry, homes, traffic and
transport, agriculture and horticulture, gas and oil extraction. The
emissions of v by large point sources, such as heavy industry and power
generation represent about a third of total worldwide anthropogenic
emissions; in the Netherlands this accounts for about 56 percent.
Reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere can be achieved
in various ways, for instance by economising on energy use or by
producing more materials in which carbon is sequestered for a long
period of time (e.g. plastic and wood). In the short term, possible
options include sequestering CO2 in seawater and in the ground or the
seabed under conditions that prevent its uncontrolled leakage back into
the atmosphere.

Two important CO2 releasing processes can be distinguished: burning of
organic matter and separation of CO2 from other gasses. By nature,
natural gas contains up to 70% CO2, which must be removed before
the gas can be used by the consumer. Sequestration of CO2 in seawater
or bottom needs pure CO2. From a technical point of view it is possible
to separate CO2 from other gasses. However, this process needs energy
and consequently an additional release of CO2. It is estimated that
about 30% more CO2 is produced in this purifying process. A complete
Sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Dutch part of the North Sea

Life Cycle Analysis, comparing the efficiency of different matter and
energy fluxes, is net yet performed. In addition it is remarkable that in the literature studied, only the sources, path and fate of CO2 as a gas is followed, and little is mentioned about the fate of other (greenhouse) gasses (e.g. nitrogen
and sulphur oxides).

This memorandum evaluates the pros and cons of sequestering carbon in the sea and the possible associated risks. Sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Dutch
part of the North Sea National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/RIKZ

Find the full report here (PDF)

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