Reporting from Natural Gas CCS Networking Meeting, 30-31 May 2013, London

Reporting from the Natural Gas CCS Networking Meeting held in London on 30-31 May 2013

This is a totally revolutionary ‘take’ on gas powerplant decarbonisation where you decarbonise the gas fuel supply up-stream, using a hybrid combination of bio-energy (inc’ low-cost bio-wastes) and CCS at the SNG production plant. This ‘upstream decarb ‘principle is already well-recognised by DECC in policy terms under both the RO and RHI (Renewable Heat Initiative) incentives schemes . It turns out that upstream hybrid decarb’ has greatly lower cost and energy penalties than any known form of on-site CCS, in fact we make the extraordinary claims that we can make decarbonised (even net C-negative!) SNG at plant gate for a lower cost than today’s UK powerplant NG fuel cost, with a marginal plant-gate CO2 capture cost (high pressure, pipeline-ready) of less than £1/Tonne and less than half the CCS CO2 disposal tonnage  per GJ power output of on-site coal + CCS.  We can even meet DECC’s current regulatory ‘EPS’ CO2 limit of 450g/kWh on an unabated basis! It is one of very few technologies based on industrially proven equipment capable of delivering C-negative technology (thought of by many as distant ‘blue-sky’ prospect) in the near future, and at an affordable price.

Overall, the process has a significantly higher energy efficiency  (up to three times in some cases!)  and lower inherent emissions than any other known conversion method for either biomass or mixed wastes into any clean energy product – circa 77%. In national policy terms, this means that a much greater clean fuel supply can be derived from a given limited supply of either biomass or waste. The core ‘BGL’ gasifier technology has already been proven for 7 years at the full industrial scale (c. 300-400 tonnes/day)  operating on similar mixed feedstocks in Germany, where it has been certified by both the UNEP and the German authorities for the safe destruction (meeting EU WID standards) of 200 different waste types inc’ hazardous wastes. It is one of the world’s cleanest and most feed-flexible energy conversion technologies for ‘dirty’ fuels.

[To download presentations, click on the link on the speaker’s name]

30 May

Jeff Chapman (Carbon Capture and Storage Association) gave the first talk of the meeting, presented the challenges and opportunities for Gas CCS.  While there are still some economic drivers  for CCS that need to be refined further, Gas CCS is very promising due to the fact that it has a relatively a low environmental profile compared to other fossil fuels, can add flexibility in our power generation mix, and the technology for capture is well established. 

John Overton (Office of CCS, in the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change) presented an overview of the Gas Generation Strategy.  The role of gas in the UK electricity generation has been changing, and the percentage of UK electricity produced from gas has dropped from ~40% in 2011 to 27.5% in 2012.  DECC estimated that gas will contribute up to ~100TWh generation per year and by 2030 average load factors will likely be lower than historic levels.  The UK Government is taking action to provide more certainty to decarbonisation and is progressing with its £1B CCS Commercialisation Programme.

Xi Liang and Jia Li (University of Edinburgh) presented an overview of Gas CCS work being undertaken in China.  On 27 April 2013, the Chinese government announced strong support for CCS, and some pioneer projects, like Datang and Huaneng, are looking at CCS on gas-fired power plants.  It is estimated that the share of natural gas in the Chinese energy mix will increase from 4% in 2010 to 10% in 2020, with CCGT development primarily focused at large cities in the near future.

Mohsen Assadi (University of Stavanger) presented an overview of Gas CCS in Norway.  Despite being nearly all of Norway’s electricity being generated from hydropower, as one of the largest providers of Europe’s natural gas (~20%) Norway is committed to contributing to CCS technology development.  The Sleipner and Snohvit injection sites together ~1.7 million tonnes per year of CO2.  SINTEF and NTNU both lead up many R&D projects.  SOLVit is an 8-year ~40MEuro post-combustion capture solvent development project.  BIGCCS is 8-year 47M Euro International CCS Research Centre made up of global industry and research organisations.  The Technology Centre Mongstad is currently will test two separate flue gas sources using two different technologies (chilled ammonia and amines) to capture 100,000 tons CO2/yr.  This facility has a total cost of 1 Billion $US, and will serve as a reference arena for verification of technologies.

Kirstin Jordal (SINTEF/BIGCCS) gave an overview of Gas CCS initiatives and activities in the EU.  The EU 2050 Energy Roadmap includes scenarios of different power generation, and by 2050, they all show gas exceeding coal generation.  The UE’s gas power capacity is expected to double with currently planned gas plants.  This is an opportunity to build capture ready plants in locations with feasible CO2 transport routes and storage sites to avoid carbon lock-in risks. Horizon 2020 will be the next major funder of CCS research in Europe, and groups like EERA and ZEP are set-up to feed into this process.  BIGCCS is a large research centre of international CCS researchers and industry that is funding  several CCS projects.

José Miguel González-Santaló (Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas) presented an overview of CCUS in the Mexican electrical sector.  Recent policy shifts have been made in recognition of the potential for shale gas an EOR opportunities.  Also included in this policy shift is the establishment of a specific GHG emissions target by 2026.  These policies are in light of a projected growth in electricity production in Mexico, from 254 TW-hr to 460 TW-hr from 2010 to 2026.  It is estimated that 4.4 GW from natural gas plants and 4.24 GW from coal plants using CCS will be place in Mexico by 2026.  Current plans call for CCS to be incorporated into power plants by 2020. 

Chris Brookhouse (Summit Power) presented his company’s CCS activities.  Summit Power is progressing several CCS on natural gas projects, including two new ones in the U.S.  Plants in California and Colorado are being pursued with EOR components.  Both states have progressive climate legislation and regulations which give CCS advantages over other locations.  Summit’s aim is to pursue CCS projects that deliver value, are commercially viable now and in the future, are scaleable, and that allocate risk appropriately. 

31 May

John Davidson (IEAGHG) presented recent and future work on natural gas CCS.  IEAGHG commissioned a techno economic study on the costs of natural gas in 2012 and a cost comparison of gas and coal CCS.  The cost estimated for CCS at an NGCC for baseload are expected to increase by about 35% and the cost of abatement is about 70 Euro per ton CO2.  Future work for IEAGHG members will include performance and cost assessment oxy-combustion turbines and flowsheet improvements for gas and coal post-combustion capture.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian (University of Leeds) presented some technical challenges for gas CCS and an overview of the EPSRC-funded Gas-FACTS Project.  Some key findings coming out on EGR post-combustion are that it increases CO2 levels in the flue gas (3% without EGR but >8% with 35% EGR).  EGR is also believed to be a viable option to concentrate CO2 in the exhaust stream.  Flue gas recirculation on post-combustion amine scrubbing can mitigate CCS efficiency losses by decreasing thermal requirement for the capture plant.  FGR is also less expensive than other methods.  The Gas-FACTS project’s key outputs are quantitative assessments of various integrated gas CCS options, concepts for novel CO2 capture techniques, guidance for industry and policymakers on deploying a fleet of new capture ready gas plants, and developing advanced capacity in gas CCS research.

Shane O’Sullivan (Electricity Supply Board-ESB) gave a utility’s perspective of gas CCS and CCR.  ESB is building an 880MW carbon capture ready gas plant at Carrington.  Including CCR plans for the plant impacts site choice and has implication for the grid.  Transport and storage lay outside of the core business for most utilities, so partnerships are needed to complete the CCS supply chain.  Markets , technology and policies must all three align to give a clear long-term investment signal to facilitate CCS commercialisation.

Robin Irons (E.ON Innovation Centre) presented another utility’s perspective gas CCS.  Robin noted that lessons learned on Coal CCS can be applied to Gas CCS.  The economies of Gas CCS improve with clustering of other CCS facilities.  The ZEP preliminary topics and scoring scheme for funding  decisions was also presented. 

Richard Smith (Howden) and Andres Boulet (Inventys) both presented on their collaborative work on the ETI-funded Veloxo-Therm project.  The project uses commercially available adsorbents structured into a matrix that intensifies the COcapture process.  It will be designed for application at a gas CCS plant with associated EOR.

Kirstin Foy (Parsons Brinkerhoff) presented some of the issues facing new plants being built with CCR.  While local requirements will dictate must of the key issues for building a CCR plant, one must consider the best use of available space, water useage, costs, flexibility and capture rates, technology readiness, consenting and environmental/planning regulations.  When comparing costs of CCS on coal and gas plants, there are many differing factors to take into account.  For example gas CCS is cheaper than coal CCS per MWh, but the cost of coal CCS per tonne of CO2 captured is cheaper than Gas CCS. 

Christian Biebuyck (Clean Energy System) presented CES’s technology for natural gas conversion.  They have platelet-based fuel injectors that channel bulk fuel O2 and water into hundreds of combustors.  They also develop oxy-fuel turbines and combustors for application to heavy oil extraction, EOR and peaking power plants.

Robb Kirchner (NET Power) presented their Allam cycle, which uses a novel oxy-fuel, supercritical carbon dioxide cycle to produce clean and cheap electricity .  NET Power has developed a test combustor with other companies with funding from DECC for application to a 25MWe natural gas plant which is planned to begin operations at the end of 2014.  It is expected that commercial plants will be operational in 2017. 

Dominique Copin (Total) presented an overview of the CO2 Pilot Plant at Lacq.  The oxy-fuel pilot plant at Lacq is set on the largest oil field in France.  The pilot has a design capacity of 240 t/day O2.  Captured CO2 is injected into a dolomite formation via one injection well at 4,500 meters below sea-level.  The project is now in the monitoring phase of operation.

And here’s an interesting article from Chris Hodrien of Timmins CCS. Contact Chris Hodrien (tel +44 121 705 0278/+44 7905 904 805) should you wish to comment.