Algae cultivation to zero emissions
Photo credit - Diomari Madulara, http://Unsplash.io
Welcome to the ninth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Breaking from my weekly look at an individual country, this week my blog will feature an A – Z of CCUS and explanations for what technical terms associated with CCUS mean such as desalination, hydrocarbons, and sequestration.
A Algae cultivation, microalgae can absorb CO2 in algae ponds and convert it into byproducts such as proteins, biomass, and fertilizer. Pond Technologies located in Markham, Ontario, Canada is a good example of a company that uses algae to convert CO2 into a viable byproduct.
B Boundary Dam, an integrated carbon capture and storage demonstration project and the largest project of its kind in the world. It is a coal-fueled power station and is reducing CO2 emissions by 1 millions tonnes per annum. Boundary Dam receives delegations from China on almost a weekly basis, knowledge gained from these trips should assist China with the reduction of CO2 emissions from its over-reliance on coal-fueled power stations as a source of energy.
C Conversion, CO2 can be converted into various different products using CCUS technologies such as fertilizers, feedstocks, potash, fish food, toothpaste, liquid fuels, reinforced concrete etc.
D Desalination, desalination is the removal of salts and minerals from a substance such as seawater or soil. CO2 is mixed with salt water at high pressure and temperature in order to form hydrates that are removed leaving clean water behind.
E Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), this is a process where CO2 is injected into partly depleted coal seams. The CO2 helps remove fuel from small hard to reach seams and takes the place of the previously lodged fuel. This is a more efficient way of extracting oil from the ground as it reduces drilling and energy costs.
F Fish food, CO2 can be used to produce fish food, a US company called Protein Power uses CO2 for this purpose.
G Geothermal, similar to desalination and EOR, geothermal systems can be used to transfer heat through CO2 turbines. A good example of natural geothermal heating is Geysers found in Iceland.
H Hydrocarbons, CO2 can be converted into hydrocarbons that can be used to make fuels (methanol) and plastics. Hydrocarbon is a compound of hydrogen and carbon and is a primary component of gas and petroleum.
I Injection, CO2 can be stored by injecting it deep underground ( up to 2 km) into rock formations for permanent storage.
J Joint research, In 2009, China and the US who emit more than 40% of global emissions between them, joined forces to create the US-China Clean Energy Center (CERC). The primary goal of this venture is for the two countries to work together in order to advance research and development in the area of clean technologies.
K Kyoto protocol, Kyoto was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) preceding treaty on greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions reductions to the Paris agreement. It was signed in 1997, came into effect in 2005 and the first commitment period expired in 2012.
L Liquid fuels, CO2 can be converted into liquid fuels such as methanol and formic acid. Methanol can be used to fuel vehicles and is also used by the chemical industry. Formic acid can be used as a livestock feed preservative.
M Monitoring, CO2 stored in rock formations underground require constant monitoring during the injection and storage process, and for up to 20 years after the final injection of CO2 before the storage facility can satisfy regulatory requirements from environmental bodies such as EPA.
N Non-conversion, CO2 that is not converted into a byproduct can be used in desalination, EOR, and enhanced geothermal processing.
O Offshore, CO2 can be stored off-shore in disused oil and gas fields e.g. Sleipner CO2 storage project 240 km Southwest of Stavanger Norway.
P Paris agreement, UNFCCC’s successor treaty to Kyoto, signed on Earth Day 2016 and comes into effect in 2020. Once of its primary goals is to:
“hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”
Q Quota, countries are implementing measures such as carbon credits and carbon pricing as ways to incentivise the reduction of CO2 emissions by large industrial companies.
R Reductions, a positive change from Kyoto to Paris is the requirement for participating countries to submit emissions reductions plans as part of their commitment to the Paris agreement.
S Sequestration, sequestration is the technical description for the long-term storage of CO2.
T Transportation, CO2 for storage, is transported off-site from the facility where it was created such as an oil refinery by pipelines buried about one metre underground.
U Utilisation, captured carbon can be used for conversion into byproducts mentioned above or for non-conversion such as desalination and enhanced oil recovery.
V Venture capital, both national governments, and green funds are investing in CCUS technologies. An example of such investment is Inventys Thermal Technologies by large finance houses such as Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Mitsui, and Roda Group.
W Waste CO2, waste CO2 can be converted into stone and biofuel.
X Xprize, NRG COSIA Xprize is a “$20 Million global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials, alternative fuels, and other items that we use every day”. 27 teams from around the world advanced to semi-final stage of the competition in October 2016.
Y Yield, urea yield boosting is a process where CO2 and ammonia are converted into urea fertilizer. Urea fertilizer is used to aid agricultural crop growth.
Z Zero emissions, this is the ultimate goal and if it is ever to be achieved, it will occur after decades of hard graft and commitment from all major stakeholder groups such as national governments, oil, gas, and coal companies, large industrial manufacturers and the wider public.
www.pembina.org and https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/ are excellent resources for additional information on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage.
Falling forests and coal-fueled CO2 emissions
Rio de Janeiro, photo credit Agustín Diaz, http://Unsplash.io
Welcome to the eighth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Brazil signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016 and brought it into force on the 4th of November 2016.
According to Annex I of the Conference of Parties twenty-first session (COP21), Brazil was the seventh highest emitting nation of CO2 into the atmosphere based on data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) ahead of COP21 in December 2015.
Unlike other ‘G20’ nations, the UN Climate Change Secretariat cites agriculture (48%) as Brazil’s largest economic sector for greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions followed by the energy sector (38%). According to the World Bank forest area as a % of land area in Brazil has fallen from over 65% in 1990 to 59% in 2015. Deforestation was seen as a major factor in Brazil’s climbing CO2 emissions.
In a more recent study called ‘Trends in Global CO2 Emissions 2016 report’ published by EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research), deforestation and forest fires emissions were excluded from the overall figures and Brazil was still ranked as the ninth highest CO2 emitting country for 2015. Combustion of oil products accounted for 70% of fossil fuel related CO2 emissions with road transportation alone making up 40% of total fossil fuel-related emissions. The report also highlights the fact that Brazil has almost doubled its coal consumption since 1990 and has added 1.8GW in new coal power capacity since 2010.
The climate action tracker ranks Brazil’s policies and pledges towards emission reductions as moderate. It highlighted how Brazil had reduced emissions from the land use and forestry sector by 84% over the period 2005-2012. From an energy sector point of view, energy from renewables sources has fallen from 50% of overall energy generation in the early 1990s to just under 40% in 2014. As mentioned above coal consumption has doubled over same time period.
From a CCUS perspective, Brazil has made some positive developments in recent years. The Petrobras Santos Basin pre-salt oil field carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, located 300 km of the coast of Rio de Janeiro has a capacity to store 1 million tonnes of carbon per annum in a pre-salt carbon reservoir more than 5 km below sea level. Petrobras is the primary stakeholder in this project with Shell, Petrogal, and Repsol having smaller holdings. A second ‘notable project’ as defined by the Global CCS Institute is situated onshore in the state of Bahia in Eastern Brazil. This site has a daily carbon injection capacity of 370 tonnes.
Multiple studies and reports have highlighted how Brazil’s annual level of CO2 emissions has fluctuated dramatically over the last decade due to relaxed and tight deforestation policies. For Brazil to consistently manage its CO2 emissions it will need to adopt more stringent restrictions on deforestation and seek higher yields from existing agricultural land through production efficiencies. Similar to other large CO2 emitting nations, Brazil’s reliance on coal is not a positive, and increasing coal power capacity by 1.8GW over the last seven years could not be considered a step in the right direction.
EU's largest emitter
Neuschwanstein castle, Germany, photo credit to Manuel Gerlach,
Welcome to the seventh edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
This week we examine Germany who signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016 and brought it into force on the 4th of November 2016.
According to EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research), Germany was the highest EU emitting nation of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2014 and 6th highest internationally.
Similar to other large industrial powers featured in previous weeks of this blog, Germany’s Energy sector is their largest emitting sector with over 80% of national emissions. According to the UN Climate Change Secretariat’s greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions statistics for Germany, energy industries (46%) were their biggest offender within the energy sector followed by transport (20%).
Statistics published by Destatis in March 2017 show that German electricity production is still heavily dependent on coal, with 40% of all electricity generation coming from coal-powered plants in 2016. Renewables energy as a source for electricity production has grown steadily from 4% of total production in 1990 to almost 30% in 2016. However, this rise has been mainly offset by a decline in the use of nuclear energy over this time period, rather than a reduction in fossil fuel use.
Nonetheless, given Germany’s target of 40% reduction in GhG emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, a recently published ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’ ranked Germany second behind Sweden with a moderate rating. The leaderboard is used to measure EU countries against the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), Europe’s key climate change legislation. The legislation covers 60% of EU GhG emissions (transport, buildings, agriculture and waste) and it will help determine what the national emission reduction targets from 2021 – 2030 will be for each EU member state. The EU Climate Leaderboard is seen as Europe’s most significant climate tool towards the implementation of the Paris agreement. Five categories were used by the climate tool to assess and rank each country:
1. Starting point
2. Land use loopholes
3. Emission Trading System (ETS) surplus loophole
5. Ambition level
Germany highest category score was in the ETS surplus loophole category as it supports a reduction in the size of this loophole going forward. Germany’s lowest score was under the ambition level target as Germany does not call for a long-term target for the EU as a whole and instead focuses on domestic targets. However, this is not a uniquely German problem, with the exception of Sweden and France all the other EU nations were more pre-occupied with their domestic emission reduction target over an EU-wide target.
The Global CCS Institute highlights three ‘notable’ German CCS pilot projects in its
Global Status of CCS report:
i. Ketzin Pilot project
ii. Schwarze Pumpe Oxyfuel Pilot Plant
iii. Wilhelmshaven CO2 Capture Pilot Plant
The first two pilots are now complete. The Ketzin site was used by the German Research Centre for Geosciences for a range of storage projects. 67,000 tonnes were injected between 2008 and 2013 and ongoing monitoring of this storage is taking place.
Testing has also ceased at Schwarze where oxy-fuel combustion technology was used at the Schwarze coal-fired plant. Oxyfuel combustion is a process where pure oxygen is used to burn fuel, approximately 11,000 tonnes of Co2 were captured.
Wilhelmhaven is an ongoing project where Fluor’s Econamine FG PlusSM technology is used to capture Co2 using an amine absorption solvent-based process. Approximately 70 tonnes of Co2 are captured daily. Germany’s continued reliance on coal will make it difficult for the country to meet it’s Paris Agreement and ESR commitments. However, Renewable Energy as an Electricity production source is on a consistent upward trajectory. Germany has also invested in CCUS projects and favour more frequent compliance checks of the ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’ than the five-year intervals put forward by the European Commission.
Week 6 Japan
Lake Kawaguchi, Japan, photo credit to Steven Diaz, http://Unsplash.io
Welcome to the sixth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Japan signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016, accepted it on the 8th of November that year, with it coming into force on the 8th of December 2016.
According to the European Commission’s research database EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research), Japan was the fifth highest emitting nation of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2014. UN Climate Change Secretariat’s greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions statistics for Japan in 2012 reports that the largest emitters by sector are energy (92%), industrial processes (5%) and agriculture (2%). Analysing the energy sector segment of the statistics in more detail, two-fifths of their contribution stem from energy industries.
In response to this, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) pledged to cut emissions by 26% (of 2013 levels) by 2030 as part of its 2030 power generation plan. Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies supported this pledge by agreeing to cut their own emissions by 35% (of 2013 levels) by 2030. In April 2016, Japan reported its lowest CO2 emissions in three years for 2014/15.
Japan is currently developing multiple Carbon Capture System (CCS) projects. In April 2016, the injection of CO2 commenced near shore at the Tomakomai CCS DemonstrationProject situated at Tomakomai port. This hydrogen production facility can process 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Other notable projects domestic CCS include ‘The Eagle Project, a pre-combustion capture from coal gasification project (c. 9,000 tonnes p.a.), Saga City waste incineration plant (c. 4,000 tonnes p.a.) and Mikawa post-combustion capture pilot plant (c. 4,000 tonnes p.a.). Saga City and Mikawa are both backed by Toshiba corporation.
On the 25th of October 2016, it was announced that a consortium of Japanese organisations comprising Japan Coal Energy Centre, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd. would come together and collaborate with the International CCS Knowledge Centre. This initiative, sponsored by Japan’s New Energy and Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), will focus on how Japanese technologies can potentially advance CCS and air quality control system at CCUS projects in Saskatchewan, Canada. Saskatchewan’s SaskPower is seen as a leader in the capture of carbon at its coal-powered plant at Boundary Dam.
Japan has made great headway of late towards meeting its Paris Agreement commitments by pledging to cut emissions by 26% by 2030. This has been achieved through political will, international collaboration and knowledge sharing, as well as financial backing from some of its largest finance houses. Japan must not rest on its laurels, though, given that as recently as 2014, Japan’s Ministry of Environment reported its second highest CO2 emissions on record. Time will tell whether or not the positive strides Japan has taken since this report will lead to lasting change in line with their Paris Agreement commitment.