How to make Carbon Capture and Storage cheaper
Is it cheaper to capture and store CO2 or avoid it in the first place?
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been under development for decades. It's no longer experimental.
It's been touted as a solution to CO2 emissions for coal-fired power stations.
And brown coal needs it the most because it's more CO2 intensive per megawatt-hour of electricity than black coal or gas.
This is due to its high moisture content, making it burn less efficiently.
The below article in the Latrobe Valley Express by Michelle Slater highlights comments by CO2CRC chief executive Tania Constable speaking about carbon capture at last week's Brown Coal Innovations Australia forum at Federation University.
Some key points:
- Victoria's brown coal creates 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, making up 13 per cent of direct national greenhouse emissions.
- Carbon capture technology installed in the Latrobe Valley, could remove 6.5 per cent of direct national emissions
- It can be used across a number of industries like oil, gas, coal, steel, cement and urea.
We agree. CCS is one way to deal with CO2. But a quick check of the CO2CRC website finds a recent report that suggests a cost of $75 per tonne of CO2 captured.
Given carbon credits are currently trading in Europe for around A$15, that's very expensive!
It doesn't make economic sense to capture and store.
If CCS were mandated for brown coal power stations, the best the CO2CRC can say is that it's cheaper than solar.
We have a complementary solution; Coldry.
Our Coldry process cost-effectively dries wet brown coal prior to combustion, removing 80% of the moisture.
By drying brown coal, it becomes less CO2 intensive.
What could that mean for Victoria?
Existing power stations could be retrofitted with Coldry as a front-end CO2 mitigation solution, reducing emissions by up to 20%.
We estimate that it could cost less than $20 per tonne of CO2 avoided thanks to the retrofit of Coldry to the front end of existing power stations. That's a lot cheaper than the $75 to catch and store.
And if we take Coldry to the next level and replace existing brown coal power stations with new Coldry-enabled HELE power plants, the abatement cost could fall below $15 per tonne and achieve a reduction in CO2 intensity of between 43% and 62%.
Sure, it's not zero-emission, but it does strike a sensible and pragmatic balance between reliability, affordability and emissions intensity.
However, for the time being, without a carbon price or some form of policy setting that improves investment certainty, it's hard to see expensive CCS or our own Coldry technology being adopted for power generation in Victoria, either on their own or as a complementary solution.
Retro-fit carbon capture to station
Latrobe Valley Express | 12 February 2018 | Michelle Slater
Carbon capture and storage technology could prolong the life of Latrobe Valley coal-fired power generators, create jobs and cut the region's carbon emissions in half.
CO2CRC chief executive Tania Constable spoke about carbon capture at a Brown Coal Innovations Australia forum at Federation University last week, with other industry experts and academics...