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Chemical Equipment Update

Exploring the potential of carbon capture and storage


he latest report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is right in identifying carbon

capture and storage (CCS) as a key area of funding, which needs to be protected. The case is clear. The most recent G8 summit has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by the year 2050. One of the greatest contributors to the greenhouse effect is the carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuel. Development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) has the potential to reduce the CO2

emissions from

power stations by around 90 per cent. Exploring the potential of CCS and ultimately developing the technology is even more important when you consider that the current trend across the European Union is towards tougher emissions targets. The UK’s new energy and climate change

secretary, Chris Huhne recently joined forces with German federal environment minister, Norbert Röttgen and French environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo to argue the case for an increase in the European Union’s emissions reduction target from its current 20 per cent level by 2020 (based on 1990 levels) to a new more ambitious 30 per cent level. “If we stick to a 20 per cent cut,” the

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ministers argue. “Europe is likely to lose the race to compete in the low-carbon world to countries such as China, Japan or the US – all of which are looking to create a more attractive environment for low-carbon investment. “By moving to a higher target, the EU would have a direct impact on the carbon price through to 2020 and also send a strong signal of our commitment to a low-carbon policy framework in the longer term,” they conclude.

capture and storage, suggests that without CCS, overall costs to reduce emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 increase by 70 per cent. The roadmap includes a CCS growth path in order to achieve this GHG mitigation potential envisioning 100 projects globally by 2020 and over 3000 projects by 2050. If the UK develops its potential to take a lead in the further evolution of the CCS industry, then development work and technology expertise is more likely to be based here as well. The new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition, with Huhne in a key role, is positive about CCS. It has agreed to continue with existing proposals for public sector investment in the technology at four coal-fired power stations. It also plans to establish an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations from being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the standard; introduce a floor price for carbon and create a green

The move to a higher target would potentially represent a cost burden for companies but in the long term it is also a business opportunity – particularly with regard to CCS and resource-conserving energy management solutions, which could be key in helping to achieve this new target. CCS certainly has great potential in helping to achieve emissions reductions. Today, there are growing commercial, legislative and technological drivers behind its development. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), T

echnology Roadpmaps Carbon

investment bank. The question should also be raised about how to evolve the technology to also focus on gas-fired power stations as it is estimated that 50 per cent of UK power generation comes from them. AspenTech’s modelling technology enables engineers to more accurately predict behaviour of substances, thus helping to reduce risk and associated costs – in areas where companies are not making money. While businesses explore the CCS potential, there is much that heavy industry sectors can do to cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions over the long-term through the more traditional practice of efficient energy management of their plants and assets. Their contribution is potentially significant. A recent report produced by The Climate Group and The Office of Tony Blair indicates that approximately 19 per cent of total savings in energy related emissions to 2050 could come from industry. ❒

David Bleackley, Strategic Business Manager Exploration & Production, AspenTech, Reading, UK.

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