Archive for June, 2010

International opposition to planned CCS subsidies

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

In June 2010, climate negotiators were in the German city of Bonn, debating a stalled proposal to award UN-administered carbon credits to projects for capturing and burying carbon dioxide.

The move could richly reward the UAE, which plans to build the world’s first nationwide carbon-capture network, but was looking for international funding to help defray its costs. UAE’s technological ambitions ran into a possibly insurmountable foe – Brazil. If Brazil maintains the veto it disclosed last week in an official filing, things are unlikely to change this year, experts said. The proposal had already been put on hold on a number of occasions, including the Copenhagen climate summit last December.

Brazil has worked behind the scenes to delay the proposal for years, analysts say, but declared open war in a submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The plan to steer credits to carbon capture projects through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a funding scheme, amounted to “subsidies to enhance fossil fuel production”, Brazil claimed. Brazil is not isolated as it gets a fair amount of backing from the Alliance of Small Island States.

OPEC and the coal industry, along with international bodies such as the International Energy Agency, have endorsed carbon capture as the most viable means to combat climate change by taking the carbon out of the emissions of fossil fuels that provide most of the world’s energy. Brazil and others, however, say the promise to seal emissions permanently underground is unproven and the money for CCS is better spent on carbon-free energy sources such as solar.

However, Nick Otter, the chief executive of the Global CCS Institute, which has $100 million a year in funding committed by the federal government, said the major challenges of CCS were not insurmountable: “The challenge is to address these barriers to create the conditions for the integration of these technologies at commercial scale and across a variety of applications.”

Part of article sourced from the National

Federal Government funding announcements for CCS projects

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

The US federal government, along with some private sector investors, is pouring big money into three different projects focused on industrial carbon capture and storage. These 3 projects are located in Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas. The sites have been through a first phase of R&D, and were selected from the group as the “most promising carbon capture and storage projects.”

Another $368 million in private funding is being put towards these projects, as well, bringing the total investment to almost $1 billion. According to the Department of Energy, the three projects, in theory, will collectively take 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year, storing the emissions underground. That’s the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road. The projects also promise progress in the area of oil recovery, which could help improve domestic production of oil by up to 10 million barrels annually, according to the DOE.

The projects chosen for state funding are:

* A plan by Leucadia Energy and Denbury Onshore to sequester 4.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions at a new methanol plant in Lake Charles, La. The emissions will be sent to an existing enhanced oil recovery site in the West Hastings oilfield via an existing 12-mile pipeline. The project is supposed to come online in April 2014. Aside from Leucadia and Denbury, this plan involves General Electric, Haldor Topsoe, Black & Veatch, Turner Industries, and the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology.

* A project by Air Products and Denbury to capture and sequester 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from steam-methane reformers in Port Arthur, Texas. The emissions will be sent to the same facility as the Leucadia project and will be used for enhanced oil recovery. Other project participants are the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and Valero Energy.

* A project by Archer Daniels Midland that is designed to capture and sequester 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from an ethanol plant in Illinois. The emissions will be sequestered in a sale reservoir that is about 1 mile away from the plant; the project is supposed to come online in August 2012. Other project members are Schlumberger and the Illinois Geological Survey.

Original article by Heather Clancy on Zednet

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

The Calgery Herald reports that work is all set to begin on the first standards for carbon capture and storage, led by Canadian groups like CSA Standards and the International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide, who on June 2010, announced an agreement to develop the standard, which could serve as an international benchmark.

“This is one small but very important step for us to gain public and regulator confidence in the geological storage of CO2 as a sustainable energy and environmental option,” said Carmen Dybwad, head of IPAC-CO2 Research Inc.

Danish scientist says that CCS is as risky and hard to manage as the storage of nuclear waste

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

Given that there’s much too much excess carbon to sweep under the rug, many have turned to the nearest thing: sequestering it in deep-sea or underground storage facilities. The European Union plans to invest billions of Euros in carbon sequestration over the next ten years.

But according to Gary Shaffer, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, and leader of the Danish Center for Earth System Science, calculations show that undersea storage of CO2 would cause serious problems for marine life – and in any case, he says, the CO2 would quickly find its way back into the atmosphere.

“CO2 sequestration has many potential advantages over other forms of climate geo-engineering,” says Shaffer. “However, one should not underestimate short and long-term problems with leakage from reservoirs. Carbon in light form will seek its way out of the ground or seabed. The present situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a poignant reminder of that.”

Shaffer made long model projections for a number of sequestration/leakage scenarios. His results show that leakage of the stored CO2 could bring about serious warming of the atmosphere, large sea level rises, oxygen depletion, acidification, and high CO2 concentrations in the ocean. Underground storage could be effective, Schaffer says, but only if a CO2 leakage of one percent or less per thousand years can be obtained. Managing the leakage could be a burden for future society comparable to the long term management of nuclear waste, he says.

“The dangers of carbon sequestration are real, and the development of this technique should not be used as an argument for continued high fossil fuel emissions,” warns Shaffer. “On the contrary, we should limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for CCS and thus reduce unwanted burden over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2.”

US research paper says that CCS is an unviable technology

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

A new research paper from Houston University threatens to derail the growing political support for CCS as a tool in the fight against global warming, by claiming that governments have overestimated the viability/value of CCS. It says that it would take a reservoir the size of a small US state to hold the CO2 produced by one power station.

In the paper Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at Houston, and his co-author Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M University, argues that previous modeling has hugely underestimated the space needed to store CO2, mainly due to the fact that it was based on the totally erroneous premise that the pressure feeding the carbon into the rock structures would be constant.

The paper concludes that CCS “is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions, although it has been repeatedly presented as such by others.”

The report comes at a critical time, for British, French, and other governments worldwide have already started to fast-track a series of CCS prototype schemes as a way of removing carbon from the atmosphere and helping with climate change.

On the other hand, Chapman points out a successful CCS experiment: Statoil, a Norwegian oil firm, has been injecting CO2 into an old reservoir on the North Sea Sleipner field for some time.

But critics say the Sleipner scheme involved a million tonnes over three years, while one 500 MW commercial station would need to absorb and store 3 million tonnes annually for 25 years.

Read original article at the Guardian

Potential government policies for promoting CCS

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

By mid-2010, being discussed by the British government (a strong coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties),2 potential government policies for promoting CCS can be seen:

• Emissions trading scheme (ETS) permits: Much like Carbon trade, polluters without CCS technology will have to buy certificates from power plants with CCS technology
• Emission performance standard: Analogous to the Renewables obligation, the proposed EPS forces power stations to produce no more than a certain amount of carbon. The political parties of the UK say that the emissions performance standard will prevent new coal-fired power stations from being built unless they use sufficient carbon capture and storage. But they don’t tell us what the standard will be, so at the moment we don’t know what proportion of their CO2 power stations will have to capture.

Total’s carbon capture project in France

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

In January, in the midst of the Jurançon vineyards in southwest France, in the Lacq gas facility, the oil conglomerate Total started a CO2 storage experiment. Total plans to inject 120000 tonnes of CO2 into a depleted natural gas reservoir which is 4500 meters below the ground in a porous formation of sedimentary rock which extends over 2 sq. km.

Total has invested $72m in the 30MW fossil-fuel pilot carbon-capture system at Lacq, which is one-tenth of the size of the projected industrial plant. It captures 15% of the CO2 emissions from the boilers at the Lacq gas works. If similar technology were fitted to the whole facility and adequate storage capacity were available, all the CO2 could be neutralised.

Total has refurbished one of five boilers at its methane processing plant (due to close in 2013) and converted it into a CO2-capture demonstrator. It is the first plant in Europe and the second worldwide – in October last year Alstom commissioned a similar system in West Virginia – to experiment a complete process for capturing, transporting and storing CO2, the main GHG.

But, as the company acknowledges, capture comes at a cost, in energy and emissions. Trapping 100 tonnes of CO2 produces 20 tonnes of emissions – however, the overall result is positive. The capture process alone represents two-thirds of the overall cost, from start to finish, as much as $170 a ton of sequestered gas. Total is therefore concentrating on how to reduce these costs.

The tricky part is trapping the gas underground. Total has so far injected less than 2,000 tonnes into the cavity. Project manager Nicolas Aimard says “The Rousse reservoir is ideal for storage”.
After five months’ experimentation the engineers say they are “satisfied the technology is sufficiently robust”. Total plans to study this for five years, and then carry on monitoring to check that the gas is permanently trapped and there is no risk of it escaping to the surface. The France-Nord scheme, coordinated by Total, will be testing the storage potential of deep underground reserves of brackish water unsuitable for human consumption.

France’s Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) has selected three further projects to research carbon capture and storage. Ademe has allocated $54m to the four projects, only a small proportion of the total cost. The aim is to investigate different technologies. France is not the only country to be counting on CCS technology. Some 150 projects are already under way worldwide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says CCS could neutralize one-fifth of anthropogenic CO2 emissions by 2050, and the International Energy Agency hopes to see 3,400 CCS plants by then, stopping about one-third of current emissions.

This story first appeared in Le Monde.

Britain’s Climate Change Committe advises CCS for gas power plants

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

Influential advisers to the British government warned that Britain will miss its target of 80% emissions reduction target by the middle of the century unless CCS technology is adopted in gas-powered stations.

The climate change committee wrote a letter to Chris Huhne, the climate secretary, in which they said that the government’s pledge to fit new coal power stations with expensive carbon capture and storage equipment should be extended to new gas generators as well. Such a move could see the UK be the first in the world to build such a plant and capitalize on a new “dash for gas”.

Per unit energy, although coal is more polluting than gas, the recent fall in gas prices, new shale gas mining, and mass campaigns against new coal power have stimulated a second “dash for gas”. According to a specialist environment news service called The Ends Report, about 24 new gas-powered stations, totaling 29 GW – are under construction or in the planning process, compared with only 2 new planned coal generators, and a handful of other mooted projects. In 2008, gas supplied nearly 47% of UK electricity generation, compared to nearly 34% from coal.

The committee argued that gas with CCS is likely to be cheaper than coal with CCS, making it a more affordable way of producing clean electricity.

To provide long-term incentives to the industry to develop the technology, Adair Turner, the committee chairman, urged the British cabinet to extend a promised emissions performance standard (EPS) for coal power to the gas sector. Such standards, which regulate what power stations can emit and could be set in the energy bill later in 2010, would need to be zero greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive, said.

Since Norway has recently cancelled a planned trial of the gas CCS technology, Britain could also be the first country in the world to build one. To avoid missing carbon targets the committee said the government should change its promise to fund up to four trials of carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment on coal stations, as well as demonstrating the technology in at least one gas power plant.

According to analysis by the climate change committee, the cost of fitting CCS to coal and gas plants would be considerably higher than current generation, but lower than future unabated power stations because of rising carbon trading costs to energy producers. For gas the cost per megawatt hour is currently just under £70, while in the future, with CCS, it would be a bit less than £105, while without CCS it would be £115, calculates the committee. For coal the unit cost is currently about £60, rising to £115 with CCS and £160 without CCS.