China surpassed USA as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases way back in 2007. China is trying to balance its growing energy demand and restraining its carbon emissions by substituting coal with renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency, and implementing carbon capture and storage. Numerous research and demonstration projects related to carbon capture and storage are underway in china. This issue focuses on the growing interest of china in CCS related activities.
Some of the areas where significant research and development is happening in china are
- CO2 capture technology
- CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
- CO2 storage
- CO2 transportation
An overview of the china’s CCS activities is described below:
1. Shidongkou power plant is an ultra critical, coal fired power plant with a capacity if 660 MW located in northern shanghai. The plant is additionally equipped with carbon dioxide capture technology that separates and purifies CO2 from a flue gas stream to produce 120,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. This is the largest such facility in china and one of the world’s largest carbon capture facility in the world. The captured CO2 is used food packing, dry ice and beverage carbonation.
2. The PetroChina’s Jilin oilfield complex is the leading site for CO2-EOR research and development in China. Petrochina discovered vast deposits of natural gas in 2005 that contained over 20% CO2 concentrations. This CO2 is removed from the natural gas stream to inject into several oilfields in the complex. It is estimated that CO2 injection has enhanced oil recovery by 10-20%.
3. China’s Huaneng group is the largest power generator in china from fossil fuels. They have teamed up with Calera group (known for its cement production process from CO2) to build a green campus. Accordingly, the flue gas generated in the fossil fueled power plant is captured and converted to calcium and magnesium carbonates.
4. The Greengen project is an initiative of Huaneng group to set up a coal based thermal power plant with carbon capture plant to achieve zero emissions target. The group is also involved in international cooperation for CCS development. One of those projects is China-Australia cooperation framework of climate change and energy problems. this project aims at capturing 3000-5000 tons of CO2 per year from power plants based on carbon dioxide capture technology developed by Huaneng’s thermal power research institute.
5. Shenhua group is working on R&D in carbon capture and storage at its coal-to-liquids plant which started its trial operation towards the end of 2008. The company is also working on storage measures including geological storage which will be put into operation in one or two years.
The speed of planning, development, construction and regulatory approval for CCS projects is really fast. The Shidongkou capture plant was designed and commissioned within a span of 1 year, just to give an idea. Considering the pace at which China is moving forward highlights the fact that it has immense domestic incentive to create and grow sustainably. If the results from the domestic and international demonstrations in CCS prove promising to the Chinese government, China could become a world leader in CCS technology.