Multiscale whole systems modelling and analysis for CO2 capture, transport and storage

The UK has challenging GHG reduction targets. It is believed that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will play a critical role in the energy systems of the future, in part to support the decarbonisation objective and in part to provide grid flexibility in a future system including a large fraction of less responsive low carbon energy systems (e.g. nuclear baseload and intermittent wind). The whole systems modelling and analysis programme proposed here is designed to support wider UK initiatives by reducing technological risk and identifying performance bottlenecks. CCS will require substantial capital investment in capture and transport systems and storage complex management. Although elements of the whole chain have been studied through modelling and experimentation, there is little work on whole system assessment. For complex systems such as CCS, whole system assessment is vital ahead of large scale deployment as it identifies critical integration and interaction issues between the components and evaluates whole system performance as a function of component design parameters. Thus the whole system may be optimised; simply optimising the design of individual components is likely to result in a sub-optimal system design. The proposed research methodology is based on multiscale modelling. This involves the development of fit-for-purpose models of the individual components which describe phenomena that operate over different length and time scales and which support integration and data exchange across scales. The reason for this is that relatively localised phenomena (e.g. mass transfer in an amine scrubber) might affect the overall system transient response by limiting the rate at which the power plant flue gas flowrate can be turned up or down. Similarly, the important performance trade-offs in individual component designs must be characterised and used for overall system design. There are a number of important issues to be resolved regarding future CCS systems; the applicants believe that multiscale systems modelling approach is ideal to develop relevant insights and guidance. Examples of the issues to be addressed through whole systems modelling, analysis and optimisation include: – The development and application of a methodology to optimise the time-phased evolution of the whole CCS system design (incorporating its important individual components), including sources to recruit and location of storage sites, balancing long-term and short-term investment imperatives. – Performing integrated assessments of alternative CCS systems, through the application of fit-for-purpose models (e.g. those able to quantify trace emissions of harmful substances) and rigorous life-cycle based analyses. – Characterising the transient performance of the integrated system (how will it perform in actual operation?), understanding whether or not it affects the flexibility of the wider energy system with which it is interfaced, what the safety critical components are and the network’s dynamic stability and operability bottlenecks – Understand issues of systems integration – how do the different phenomena associated with the different components in the system cause effects to propagate through the network (e.g. the effect of impurities in captured CO2, the transport network and the storage complex). What are the important considerations that must be taken into consideration when designing and operating the whole system? The outcome of the programme will be relevant to a very wide range of stakeholders interested in CCS, including industry, regulatory and policy agencies and academia. The most important contributions of the project will be: – making available methodologies to design and analyse future CCS systems – generating insights into the most important interactions involved in system design and operation – quantifying (economics, environmental impact, safety & operability) the performance of UK CCS systems