Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

A conversation with TNB's Noraziah Muda on CCS in Malaysia

15th January 2015

Topic(s): Capacity development, Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS)

Malaysia has committed to reduce its emissions intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) by 40% on 2005 levels by 2020. In addition to its oil and gas sector, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could play a role as an emissions reduction technology for Malaysia’s power sector, given 95% of its electricity is generated by coal or gas. On 2 December 2014, the Global CCS Institute and the Malaysian Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) held a R&D carbon capture use and storage roadmap development workshop. The workshop was aimed at helping to coordinate CCUS R&D activities in Malaysia, through a facilitated discussion on R&D goals. The Institute’s Alice Gibson, Principal Manager Capacity Development, and Australia’s ACA Low Emission Fund’s Deputy Director Martin Oettinger facilitated from the discussion involving participants from government, industry, NGO and academic organisations.

This Insight presents a conversation between Alice Gibson and TNB's Noraziah Muda, Principal Researcher in the Low Carbon Power Generation Technology section in TNB Research (TNBR), following the workshop. Noraziah is a supporter of the R&D CCUS Roadmap for Malaysia and provides a fascinating insight into her work on this subject.

Image supplied: (L) Institute's Alice Gibson (R) TNB's Noraziah Muda, CCS Workshop Malaysia, 2014.

(Alice Gibson) Noraziah, can you tell us about yourself and your role at TNB Research?

(Noraziah Muda) Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is a major power utility in Malaysia. TNB owns the transmission and distribution grid throughout peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, and is responsible for approximately 60% of total power generation in Malaysia.

TNB Research (TNBR) is the R&D Center to provide centralised, technical solutions and innovation for TNB. The technical solution streams are developed under various Applied Research projects, aimed at improving the overall operational performance of the company. This includes research in areas such as power plant unplanned outage rate (UOR), transmission system performance, distribution SAIDI (which is the average outage duration for each customer served) and a few others. Other than that, TNBR is also embarking on various Advanced Research projects to position TNB to be early adopters of promising technologies.

TNB - being the major power utility in Malaysia- is taking the initiative to explore the various technologies in reducing CO2 emissions from its thermal power plants. One of the programs undertaken by TNBR as part of its Advanced Research, is the Low Carbon Power Generation Program. As a principal researcher under this program, my role is to establish research projects under the Low Carbon Power generation theme. One of these projects is in Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS).

This project includes the development of an R&D Roadmap in CCUS, securing project funding, executing the projects under the roadmap, and overall project management. Project management specifically includes project implementation, monitoring control, project closing and post project assessment. I have several researchers and research assistant working together under this program.

(Alice Gibson) When did you first hear about CCS or CCUS and when did you begin work on it?

(Noraziah Muda) Our CCUS work started when the Prime Minister of Malaysia made a pledge that Malaysia will reduce its emission intensity by 40% by the 2020 from the baseline level in 2005, during COP 15 in 2009. As Malaysia's major power utility, TNB took the initiative to start exploring the various technologies available to reduce CO2 emissions from its thermal power plants. Our CCUS work started with little lab scale project in early 2011 on a post combustion CO2 capture project using a biological approach (microalgae) in addition to a IGCC pre-combustion Carbon Capture project .

In 2013, through Global CCS Institute, TNBR researchers were given an opportunity to visit the key CCS pilot plants and research facilities in Australia. Following the visit, TNBR decided to continue and strengthen its R&D activities in specific areas of CCUS - which are amine absorption and microalgae based technology.

Image supplied: Noraziah Muda on her visit to Australian CCS projects in 2013

(Alice Gibson) There are a number of developing countries that are progressing CCS, or CCUS. Why is TNBR interested in CCUS?

(Noraziah Muda) In the past, in Malaysia, the concern about pollutants from thermal power plant flue gas was focused on NOx, SOx and particulates. However, in recent years, as the concerns over global warming have increased, there is a greater focus on CO2 emission reductions. CCUS is seen as one medium to long term option. It has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation flue gas, and the captured CO2 can be converted into useful products. Therefore, it is useful for TNBR to develop in-house capabilities in selected areas of CCUS technology. This will enable TNB to help influence and shape potential future regulatory interventions related to CCS in Malaysia.

(Alice Gibson) Can you tell us more about the CO2 capture and use pilot project that TNBR is working towards, and you are managing?

(Noraziah Muda) We have already implemented a small amine based CO2 absorption project. This system was originally designed to study CO2 capture from a gasification process. [Refer photo below.] This small system will be modified and expanded to be used as a post combustion carbon capture system, and will capture the emissions from a power station’s flue gas.

Image supplied: TNBR's amine based CO2 absorption project, Malaysia, 2014.

This expanded system will be tested at one of TNB’s coal fired power plants. The project will be divided into 3 areas, which are:

  1. 1st Phase- CO2 capture,
  2. 2nd Phase-CO2 utilisation and
  3. implementing or improving other technologies and research areas associated with CCUS.

The goals of the 1st phase are aimed at:

  • reducing the energy penalty associated with CO2 capture through optimisation of the capture process; and
  • to potentially develop novel solvents to capture CO2 efficiently.

The 2nd phase is aimed at offsetting the cost of the energy penalty by converting captured CO2 into something valuable – i.e. utilising the CO2.

The 3rd phase will cover related areas such as heat recovery, energy & exergy analysis, energy efficiency, lifecycle assessment, socioeconomic impact, regulatory and policy etc.

(Alice Gibson) TNBR has identified its R&D goals, but the aim of the workshop was to bring a wider group of Malaysian stakeholders together to consider the Roadmap from a broader perspective. Why is this important?

(Noraziah Muda) The Australian visit I mentioned above to study CCS provided us a better understanding of CCS technologies, particularly regarding amine absorption and microalgae based carbon capture technologies. Being a research company linked with power generation, our initial interest was on the capture element. However we realised capture is just one part of the CCUS chain. The question of “what to do with the captured CO2?” is also another important aspect that we need to look into.

Since CCS is of growing interest and requires a multi-disciplinary approach, the support and participation from organisations e.g. universities, research institutions, government, and industries, is very important. Therefore a workshop like this is useful to hear from a wider group of Malaysian stakeholders that are interested in CCUS. The workshop helped to identify the organisations that can spearhead a national R&D programme on CCUS, with coordinated funding mechanisms, and will take account of the multi-disciplinary and long term nature of CCUS.

(Alice Gibson) What do you think will be the impact of a CCUS R&D Roadmap in Malaysia?

(Noraziah Muda) I think with the formation of national CCUS R&D Roadmap, we can strengthen CCUS R&D activities in Malaysia. The ‘niche’ area of CCUS R&D and associated funding mechanisms can be more strategic and coordinated through the development of a national roadmap. Furthermore, the implementation of roadmap activities can help develop the local capabilities in all areas of the CCUS chain. This local capacity can be drawn upon to to influence and shape the future regulatory interventions related to CCUS as well as engaging the public about CCS in a Malaysian context.

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