Carbon Capture Projects May Need to be Fast-Tracked

by | Oct 29, 2009

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CCSprojectsCarbon capture and storage (CCS) projects face a high risk of failure due to their high costs and should be applied across many sectors to ensure success, according to an audit of the world’s CCS projects aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, reports Reuters.

The audit, conducted by Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, found (PDF) 213 active or planned projects with 101 at commercial scale. Of these, 62 are fully integrated, commercial-scale projects across every stage of the CCS process chain of CO2 capture, transport and storage. Seven of these projects are already operating and 55 are at various stages of progress making them potential candidates for contributing to the G8 objective to deploy at least 20 commercial-scale CCS projects globally by 2020, according to the audit.

The International Energy Agency said in the article the world needs to build 100 major projects for capturing and burying greenhouse gases by 2020 and thousands more by 2050 to help combat climate change.

The audit indicates carbon capture and storage could lower CO2 emissions by about 19 percent, reports Reuters.

Nick Otter, CEO of the Australia-based Global CCS Institute, cited the need to deploy more projects more quickly as well as more types of projects in order to learn how to design the best possible facilities, bring down costs and create a valid business case for CCS.

The leading developers of fully integrated, commercial-scale projects include participants in Europe (37 percent), United States (24 percent), Australia (11 percent) and Canada (10 percent).

One U.S. CCS project, the Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP), which is currently seeking federal funding, uses Siemens gasification and power generating technology that is designed to capture 90 percent of its carbon.

With 90-percent carbon capture, the Summit Power Group, the owner of TCEP, said this project is the first of its kind, both in the U.S. and globally.

In addition, the gasification portion of the project, using coal as a feedstock, is integrated with a combined cycle power plant (combustion turbine plus steam turbine) that will operate on synthesis gas (syngas) from the gasifiers — high hydrogen, low carbon syngas rather than natural gas, which results in a first-of-its-kind integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) project, according to the company.

The audit report, Strategic Analysis of the Global Status of Carbon Capture and Storage (PDF), shows that the majority of advanced projects focus on coal-fired power generation, due to the need to address the world’s use of coal in a carbon-constrained environment. Despite this progress the report also finds that due to commercial, technical and regulatory hurdles there is a need to rapidly identify and advance a more diverse portfolio of projects to ensure success.

The study also reveals that in order to accelerate the deployment of CCS projects the world must exploit cost advantages in advancing projects in developing countries such as China and India, and industries such as natural gas processing and fertilizer production where CO2 capture is part of the operation.

The audit finds capital costs alone could be 30 percent lower in China and India due to low labor rates, reports Reuters.

The audit also cited the unknown future value of CO2 as a hurdle to investment in CCS, reports Reuters. According to the report, the market price for carbon required to develop CCS in a coal-fired plant was $90/ton of CO2 and $112/ton for a natural gas plant, reports the news agency. The European carbon price closed on Tuesday at $21/ton.

The study recommends more CCS projects in the cement, aluminum, iron and steel industries, given their significant contribution towards CO2 emissions.

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