Is CCS installation the key technology to reduce CO2 missions from energy production?
From NILU's annual report: Reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is one way of combating the effects of global warming on the atmosphere, and thus limiting the consequences of climate change on ecosystems and human health
Jozef M. Pacyna, Research Director, Dept. of Environmental Impacts and Economics, NILU
Amongst the various technologies researched today on the subject of CCS are those for improving combustion efficiency, as well as those aiming to reduce CO2 from flue gases, often called CCS technologies. Nowadays, modern high-efficiency power plant boilers are expected to be CO2 capture ready, i.e. have enough space for a CO2 capture unit.
CCS in energy production
During the last decade, NILUs Department of Environmental Impacts and Economics (IMPEC) has been involved in studying technological, environmental, and socio-economic aspects of CCS implementation in the energy production sector.
In a project with Polish partners for the Polish energy group TAURON, it has been concluded that one of the major technological problems related to the implementation of CCS technology in power plants is the high energy demand for separation of CO2, thus reducing the overall efficiency of energy production.
Current research is directed towards optimizing the integration of CO2 capture systems with the technological structure of combustion processes in a power plant.
New CCS-ready technology
IMPEC, in cooperation with IFE (the Institute for Energy Technology at Kjeller) and Polish partners, is also involved in the development of a new, CCSready technology for coal and biomass combustion, with implementation of a chemical looping combustion concept.
Chemical looping combustion (CLC) is a process that can be characterized by the lack of direct contact between air and fuel during fuel combustion. The novelty is that the oxygen needed for fuel combustion is supplied by solid oxygen carriers, without the fuel coming into contact with air. Thus, CO2 emissions are much reduced compared with the standard combustion process. Since the CLC concept does not require an energy demanding separation process, the technology is assumed to be more cost efficient than other CCS technologies. The project is expected to provide innovation and more understanding of the CLC processes.
More information on this project is available on www.newloop.eu.
One of the most challenging issues of CCS implementation is developing areas were CO2 can be safely stored after separation from flue gases. Storage stability is also an issue to consider. IMPEC, together with the research institute Tel-Tek and Polish partners has just started the PRO_ CCS project on economically efficient and socially accepted CCS/Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes.
The concept of this project is based on the potential for environmental and economic benefits from integration of CO2 emission sources and CO2 consumers. The CO2 from major emission sources can be utilized to improve oil recovery. The project focusses on application of CO2 emission streams from industrial sources (refinery and other chemical plants) in the northern part of Poland, to improve recovery of oil and gas from fields in the Baltic Sea. More information on the PRO_CCS project is available on www.itc.polsl.pl/pro_ccs.
More demonstration needed
The various projects carried out at IMPEC, in cooperation with other research teams, concludes that CCS installation is the key technology for removal of CO2 from flue gases from power plants and other industrial sectors, in order to achieve the CO2 emission reduction targets defined in various EU Directives. However, these installations need to be verified in full industrial scale. Thus, more demonstration projects are needed in order to prove the proper operation of the CCS concept.