Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Carbon Capture & Storage: Cutting down the Carbon Footprint

One of the major talking points in world-wide discussions concerning carbon emission mitigation is the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. As per the Global CCS Institute, Carbon Capture & Storage involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from various sources viz. Power plants etc, compressing the gas followed by transporting and storing it below the earth’s surface in deep geological formations such as depleted oil & gas basins, coalfields or saline formations. Such areas can hold the captured gas for indefinite time periods. 

Global energy demand is rising steadily and is expected to increase by 55percent by 2030. The rise in demand will be driven by developing countries. Fossil fuels such as Coal, Oil & Gas are expected to meet a major share of this demand. This increased consumption of fossil fuels will lead to an unprecedented increase in CO2 emissions.

CCS results in significant reductions in CO2 emissions as it cuts down emissions across a host of carbon intensive industries. Considering widely distributed CCS Storage areas globally, CCS projects are expected to play a significant role in reduction of greenhouse emissions.

Exhibit A: Carbon Capture & Storage Process

Source: CO2CRC, Australia

Major International CCS Projects

1.       Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project – CCS @ WA Parish Power Project, Texas
[1] Global CCS Institute

The Texas based W.A. Parish power project is one of the largest generation facilities in the United States with a gross generation capacity of 3.75 GW (2.47 GW coal based and 1.27 GW gas based). The coal-fired units require around 30 KT of coal per day, which is sourced from Powder River Basin in Wyoming State.

The proposed CCS project will include retrofitting of Unit 8 (Coal based) of the power plant with post combustion CO2 capture system within the existing plant site. The capture facility would use an advanced amine-based absorption technology to capture at least 90 percent of CO2 from the coal-fired generating unit.

The captured CO2 would be transported via a new 132 km long, 12-inch diameter underground pipeline to the depleted basin of the West Ranch oil field, located near the city of Vanderbilt in Jackson County, Texas. The purity of the CO2 transported would be around 99 percent.

1.    China Resources Power (Haifeng) Integrated CCS Demonstration Project

China Resources Power is one of the seven biggest utilities in China, having installed capacity of 26.9 GW at the end of 2013 from 79 power plants. Its proposed Haifeng power project in the Guangdong province of China constitutes of 8 X 1GW ultra-supercritical units and is expected to be commissioned by April 2015.
The Development and Reform Commission of Guangdong Province held its first CCS demonstration project coordination meeting in June 2013 and chose China Resources Power (Haifeng) power plant for setting up a CCS demonstration project.  The proposed CCS facility is expected to capture and compress 1 MT of CO2 emissions from Haifeng Unit 3 from a slip stream of flue gas. The CCS project is expected to be completed by August 2018.
The CO2 captured at the CCS facility will be transported via underground pipeline to the CO2 storage site in a deep saline formation in the South China Sea, which falls in the oilfields operated by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). As of September 2014, the project team has identified two carbon storage sites located approximately at 90 km and 150 km to the south of the China Resources Power (Haifeng) project. A full feasibility study for the CCS project commenced in May 2014 and is expected to be completed by the same period next year, following which a front end engineering design (FEED) study is expected to start.

CCS Initiatives in India

There have numerous research level initiatives on Carbon Capture and Storage technology in India over the years but the country lacks a project which could demonstrate the full CCS process. However, things are expected to change as the National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), a major PSU is all set to commission the country’s first-ever CCS project at its Angul plant.  The CCS project will capture CO2 from NALCOs captive power plant (CPP) using algae based on Indo-Canadian technology. NALCO envisaged the project which is fifth of its kind globally after persuasion from the Odisha State Pollution Control Board. The project is being executed by Indo-Can Technology Solutions (ICTS).

As per ICTS, the algae will be developed in shallow ponds and CO2 from the CPP will be captured and introduced into the pond. As CO2 is soluble in water, the gas will be absorbed in the pond. The captured gas and water will stimulate the growth of the algae in the pond, which in turn will release oxygen as a by-product. The project initially will be a demonstration project. However, if the desired results are obtained, NALCO expects to start the project on a commercial basis.

Way Forward

The major hurdle for CCS globally is the cost factor. Research agencies globally have estimated that capturing, transporting and storing the CO2 from a thermal power plant would increase the cost of electricity generation ranging from 37 percent to as high as 91 percent. This would make CCS a comparatively costlier method for mitigating greenhouse emissions.

However, as seen with other technologies, the cost of CCS systems are expected to decline over time due to technological improvements and increased global experience in commercial applications. The costs of transportation and storage can be minimized by setting up emitting plants close to storage sites.
India is expected to depend on fossil fuels for satisfying its energy demand in the foreseeable future. Hence, reduction of greenhouse emissions will be a critical environment issue faced by India and various other countries. Considering the global dependency on fossil fuels, CCS is expected to be at the forefront of all carbon emission mitigation strategies in the years to come.

                InfralineEnergy Metals & Mining Research Team 


The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Infraline Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd. (organization). The organization is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein and any direct/indirect consequences resulting therefrom.               


Global CCS Institute
World Coal Institute, “CCS & Clean Development Mechanism”
Times of India, “NALCO embarks upon green project”, February 10, 2013

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