This blog was produced by Patrick Brandl
What are the showstoppers for CCS?
During the UKCCSRC Programme conference, experts from academia and industry discussed the need for further R&D to close the knowledge gaps associated with CO2 storage and CCS deployed for gas fired power plants.
The summary of the group’s findings are shown in the image below.
After defining innovation as increasing performance and reducing the costs associated with the combined power and capture plant, the discussion shifted into defining risks associated with the storage of CO2. Deploying CCS in the near and mid-term requires making investment decisions under uncertainty; an example of an uncertainty is the heterogeneity of the storage sites. A vast research effort has been carried out to gain insight into predicting reservoir conditions. However, the majority of these efforts has assumed uniform reservoir conditions, which leaves the impact of heterogenic storage sites poorly understood.
The experts found a knowledge gap in the capability to screen different storage sites and assess them based on key characteristics. A tool that would allow assessing storage sites would allow a generic comparison on first principles. In order to develop such a tool, the impact of heterogeneity from pore to field scale has to be better understood and quantified. This allows minimising risks in the selection of storage sites.
The experts found that the hardware needed for subsea injection seems to be ready. They also stressed that it is essential to monitor the sites; there is the need for further research for more accurate in-situ monitoring hardware for practical and feasible application.
The experts see significant research potential in gas power and CO2 capture regarding the integrated design of power and capture plant. It is likely that gas fired power plants will be part of the future’s energy mix, which will be penetrated by renewables. Therefore, gas-CCS will be operated flexibly and the associated capture plant will need to adjust to new boundary conditions. Realising cost effective operating strategies such as minimising the capture rate during peak demand hours and increasing the capture rate at times with lower demand could lead to an overall lower costs of capture.
The discussion showed that the largest share of costs across the chain is associated with the capture step. While technologies such as membranes have a high potential, they lack the readiness to be deployed in the near or mid-term. Focusing on new chemistry for solvents and new materials could promise cost reductions and the technologies will likely be ready to be deployed near term. New concepts such as 3D-printing equipment enable new ways of designing and building capture plants. Combining new solvent technologies with e.g., 3D-printed equipment could lead to significant cost reductions in the near term.