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Technology developments for Carbon Capture
The Global Status of CCS: 2012 report was released on 10 October 2012. This report provides a progress update on CCS including project developments, policy developments and developments in capture, transport and storage as well as a case study on CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
Separating the CO2 from flue gases and process streams remains the most expensive component of the CCS value chain. Nevertheless, commercial-scale separation of CO2 is currently happening at eight projects around the world in natural gas operations and in industrial processes that produce high purity streams of CO2. This illustrates that CO2 separation is technically feasible and practiced at the required scale across the world.
Large-scale application of capture to power generation is needed to achieve the required emission cuts. However, separating the CO2 from flue gases from power generation is more challenging. This is largely because the flue gas from power generation produces a more dilute stream of CO2 compared to gas processing. The additional effort required to separate the CO2 from this dilute source increases the costs.
Progress has been made in capture from power generation in the last year. Two power generation large-scale integrated projects (LSIPs) are under construction – Kemper County and Boundary Dam. Once these are in operation (expected to be in 2014) they will demonstrate the commercial-scale operation of both pre-combustion and post-combustion capture technologies for coal fired power stations. Further progress was also made at the pilot scale during the year. The Callide project in Australia, Plant Barry in Alabama USA and the Technology Centre Mongstad in Norway were all commissioned. These facilities demonstrate oxy-combustion technology and a number of post-combustion capture technologies at significant scale for power generation. The pilot plants support the work done in other pilot-scale facilities and they are an important part of demonstrating a range of capture technologies, allowing technology vendors to provide commercial-scale capture technologies for power generation.
It often takes more than a decade to scale up from pilot level to commercial scale so having these projects operational at the pilot level is essential to see capture from power generation progressing to commercial scale in the 2020’s. The projects also provide valuable operational experience with capture facilities and this is important from a power generator's perspective.
There are two projects that aim to apply capture to iron and steel plants. Both of these are still early in their planning cycle. No projects at scale are currently planned for the cement industry. There are a number of small laboratory-scale projects looking at capture in these industry sectors but these are progressing slowly. More effort needs to be directed to the iron and steel, and cement sectors as they will require CCS to achieve large-scale CO2 emission reductions.
The cost of capture is most significantly driven by the energy required for regenerating the solvent. Alternate routes to capture need to be investigated including those using more efficient processes (for example, alternative 'host' power plant and/or capture processes) or adopting further process integration as this will reduce the overall capture cost. Promising alternative 'host' power plant technologies are currently under development that are both more efficient and better suited to lower-cost carbon capture.