London April 2017 Biannual: CCR and Commercialising CCS

This blog was created by Abdul’Aziz Aliyu and Maria Elena Diego De Paz.

This session was chaired by David Reiner, University of Cambridge.

Jia Li

The CCR and Commercialising CCS parallel session started with an interesting talk given by Jia Li, who gave an overview of the ambitious CCS plans in China. She highlighted the important role of China as the largest CO2 emitter globally, and the huge capacity of the country in terms of new-built power plants that can be potentially retrofitted. This is especially relevant when taking into account that nearly 1/3 of the expected CCS contribution globally in 2050 will need to happen in China. Jia Li pointed out that the Chinese government policy expects CO2 emissions to peak by 2030. From that point onwards, either these emissions go flat or there will be a need for a deliberate emissions reduction, which can be achieved by shutting down some fossil fuel power plants or by implementing CCS in new-built systems. In this context, the CCS retrofitting potential of coal-fired systems in China has been evaluated, analyzing potential power plant locations close to storage sites. The conclusions from this study indicate that the potential for retrofitting power plants in China is big, and it is indeed an attractive option to avoid losing the capital asset already invested in new fossil fuel systems.

In order to help in the deployment of CCS in China, the UK-China CCSU Centre has been created in the Guangdong province (South part of China). This province is the largest in China in terms of population and GDP, and its associated peak electricity demand (in summer) is around 100 GW – close to twice the total electricity demand in the whole UK. As Jia Lia explained, the UK-China CCUS Centre aims at bringing academics and industry together in order to advance in the cost reduction and commercialization of CCS technologies. Lia Ji indicated that the Centre builds on previous CCS knowledge developed through a number of collaborative projects, which helped to identify the CO2 storage capacity in the South China Sea. As part of these activities, the cost of retrofitting power plants with 90% capture efficiency has been calculated to be of 1/3 on top of the total plant cost, and the retrofit potential in Guangdong province has been estimated as 40%. A roadmap for CCS deployment in this area was published in 2014, which indicated that all new thermal power plants built from 2016 onwards in the region should be Capture Ready. This plan was ambitious because the concept of Capture Ready systems was new only some years ago, although its potential is currently recognized by the Government and the market.

Jia Li also highlighted a CCS project that is expected to happen in the near future, since the investment decision has been recently approved. It consists of a whole-chain CO2 capture project that would capture CO2 from a slip stream of flue gas generated in two supercritical coal-fired 1 GW units recently built in the Guangdong province, which would be subsequently compressed and stored. For this purpose, the flue gas will be previously treated in a DCC area to reduce the SOx and NOx content below 10 ppm. Finally, Jia Li listed some reports which helped to introduce the Capture Ready Concept in the Guangdong province, and summarized several CCS projects leading to the deployment and cost reduction (e.g., through clusters) of CCS in China for both power and industrial plants.


Phil Macdonald

Phil Macdonald, who leads Sandbag’s work on CCS spoke on securing civil society and public support for the advancement of CCS in the light of the recent events and political decisions, bearing in mind that CCS is key to keeping global temperature rise below 2°C. Phil Macdonald stated the importance of public knowledge and acceptance as key to advancing in CCS deployment. He clearly explained that some of the issues that need to be overcome to get CCS moving forward include that (i) CCS is unheard of and unpopular (especially when linked to coal) and (ii) there are no plans for power CCS in the UK. Therefore, he suggested that we should focus on CCS in Industry in order to guarantee the deployment of CCS in the short term, although he recognized that we will need CCS in power in future. According to his experience, CCS is mainly associated with coal and this causes strong opposition in some sectors of society. Also, Phil Macdonald indicates that recent BEIS projections on coal and gas consumption indicate the consumption will decrease in the next few decades. Therefore, he believes devoting large efforts on CCS in Industry would help to de-link CCS to coal and to launch CCS in the UK Industry, which can be lead to a positive view of CCS in terms of a climate mitigation measure (clean growth) and as a key to generating and/or protecting jobs and fostering the economic development in the UK, especially in Industrial hubs. He also highlighted the potential of H2 generation with CCS, whereas CO2 utilisation is only on a very small scale. Finally, he summarized his view on how to secure broader support for CCS, which involves (i) stopping talking about coal or gas CCS since they are unpopular concepts, (ii) start with small projects rather than megaprojects to secure funding, (iii) link CCS to jobs, (iv) clearly linking CCS as a climate fighting technology for a clean growth and (v) promote the Paris Agreement targets.


Ian Temperton

Ian Temperton, who spoke on the Commercialization and financing of CCS development has worked in the development, policy and financing of CCS for almost two decades and has industry-based experience over a range of projects across Europe. Most recently, Temperton was part of the Oxburgh’s Parliamentary Advisory group on CCS. Temperton underscores the importance of the state’s stake holding in CCS projects, as it will help secure CCS financing at reasonable cost. Realisation of CCS will have to be demonstrated on a full chain CSS and on a smaller scale, he emphasised that the successful deployment of CCS in this case will have positive impacts on securing financing on a much larger project. It was also argued that significant government partnership in CCS development would also reduce associated risks that is associated with mega project developments. Another important driver the speaker stressed was competiveness of CCS against a cocktail of other cleaner and renewable energies, as lack of financial attractiveness will inevitably subject policy and lawmakers to shy away from giving it the much-anticipated positive response.  It was evident from the speaker’s point of view that more has to be done to secure a future for CCS while underlying its immense role in decarbonisation the globe.  

Session Conclusion

The Spring Biannual meeting 2017 came to a close with the three key speakers mentioned above, addressing the readiness of China CCS, relevance of civic support for CCS and challenges of CCS commercialization respectively. Progresses and challenges of CCS were addressed from the professional perspective of the distinctive speakers, giving us valuable insight into these topics.