CCS will be 'competitive' in 2020s

22nd November 2012

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The cost of electricity generated by power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be the same within 10 years as from other low-carbon energy sources, says government advisors

If the UK invests in large-scale CCS infrastructure, including developing clusters of carbon storage facilities and a network of CO2 pipelines, the CCS cost reduction taskforce – a group of industry experts – predicts that the costs associated with capture and storage will fall to levels similar to those expected for offshore wind.

In an interim report, the taskforce predicts that electricity generated by plants with CCS will drop to £100 per MWh by the early 2020s, and will continue to fall.

While it acknowledges that the UK’s first wave of CCS projects are likely to have generation costs of between £150–£200MWh, the taskforce argues that significant savings can be achieved during the second phase of deployment.

Developing CO2 storage facilities that can be used by multiple large power plants would reduce costs by at least £15MWh, it concludes, while a well-designed network of pipelines to transport the CO2 will cut another £11 in costs per MWh.

Building full-scale plants with capacity of 1GW or more will also help to drive down costs, according to the report. And using CO2 to recover previously inaccessible oil in offshore fields, as is being seen in CCS development in the US, is likely to provide an additional income stream to help offset costs.

However, the report confirms that the sector needs “credible long-term government policy commitment to CCS” to ensure it can secure the necessary investment.

“The taskforce is confident that the measures outlined [in the report] will have the effect of reducing the costs of electricity produced by CCS-equipped power stations by the early 2020s. However, this can only happen if these measures are taken against the background of a landscape in the UK which is favourable to the development of CCS,” states the report.

The sector needs to feel that the UK government remains serious about encouraging CCS, and will continue to provide financial support, it concludes.

The publication of the interim report coincided with DECC naming 13 CCS development projects that have been awarded a total of £20 million to develop and test new CCS technologies. The projects have each been awarded grants of between £79,000 and £5.8 million.

The funding will enable a 3MW pilot CCS plant to be built near Doncaster, a new CCS technology hub to be created in Sheffield and a pilot facility at factory in Newport, which will capture carbon from an existing combined heat and power plant .

A number of the projects receiving funding focus on using CO2 to make new materials, such as plastics, fertilisers and synthetic methane, while others will test technologies, including high-pressure turbines and CO2 monitoring equipment.

In revealing the names of the successful firms, Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “CCS is a huge opportunity for our world class research industry. Through the projects we have selected, pioneering companies and universities will be able to create new jobs and expand their markets.

“By bringing its costs down, CCS can be cost competitive with other low carbon technologies as early as the 2020s. Deployment at scale will bring investment and jobs, not just to the power sector but across the whole supply chain, including our offshore oil and gas industries.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the world’s largest CO2 capture and storage test facility in Norway revealed that they had successfully tested an amine solvent carbon capture process.

The CO2 technology centre Mongstad, has published two papers indicating that the “health and environmental risks resulting from amine-based CO2 capture are less than previously thought”.

A second phase of testing of the technology will now begin.


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