Sweden showing steely determination towards a fossil-free future
Stockholm, Sweden - Photo credit, Somov73 & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty first 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.
Having examined the role of carbonates in reducing CO2 emissions last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on Sweden.
Sweden ranks third highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and has consistently being a top 10 ranking country in this index since its inception in January 2006.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of Sweden’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, the country has pledged to completely phase out Co2 emissions by 2045. This is a bold and ambituous target which will be supported by reducing emissions from domestic transport by 70% over the next 13 years. Volvo, the Swedish car manufacturer are playing their part in supporting this target. Earlier this month they announced that from 2019 onwards all new cars released to the market will be electric or hybrid models. Five cars will be fully powered by electric electric engines and the rest of their car range will be partially battery powered.
For Sweden to achieve its 2045 target it also expects that domestic emissions will be reduced by 85% over this time period with the residual target achieved through the planting of trees and investment in foreign green initiatives.
In a ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’ published earlier this year, Sweden was ranked as highest of all EU countries on the effort sharing regulation, ‘Europe’s largest climate tool, making it the most compatible EU nation with the Paris Agreement.
According to 2016 energy statistics for Sweden published by the Swedish Energy Agency, Nuclear, Biomass and Hydropower are the source supplier for just over two-thirds of Swedish electricity generation with 33%, 23% and 12% of the overall figure respectively. Coal, crude oil/ petroleum products and natural gas still accounted for about 30% of the remainder.
Consistent with its Paris Agreement targets, Sweden has a national energy strategy to be fossil free by 2045. Significant progress has been made in that regard since 1970, when 76% of electricity generation was sourced from fossil fuels.
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
The Karlshamn Field Pilot project in the South of Sweden is the first of its kind in Europe to use cooled ammonia as a solvent in the capture of CO2 from flue gas. The project is led by Alstom Power at E.ON’s Karlshamn Power Plant. Using this approach, the plant has reported a CO2 capture efficiency rate of 90%. The plant can capture up to 30 tonnes of CO2 per day.
The Stepwise pilot project of Sorption Enhanced Water Gas Shift reaction (SEWGS) technology is under construction at Swerea Mefos facilities in Luleå in Northeastern Sweden in conjunction with Energy Centre Netherlands. It can capture 14 tonnes of CO2 per day from the nearby SSAB steel plant.
The Swedish Energy Agency is investing in a CO2-free steel industry. Last February the agency provided SEK54m in research funding over a four-year period to SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.The three companies have sensibly agreed to form a corporate joint venture to drive this research and will contribute a further SEK45m. This funding will be used to find ways to replace the use of coal with hydrogen in the Swedish Steel industry.
Sweden has ambitious plans to be a fossil free economy by 2045. Independent assessment of Sweden’s environmental performance by both Yale’s EPI and the EU Climate Leaderboard points towards global leadership is this regard. The Swedish government is investing in a CO2-free steel industry and Volvo are showing commitment through its product range.
Whether Sweden’s reaches its Paris Agreement goals or not, it is almost certain that the country will continue to be a climate change leader.
Next week’s blog will profile Denmark and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
Carbon in, clean air out
Carbonated water - photo credit Congerdesign & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twentieth 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 I explain what carbonate is and what products use it as an ingredient. I also look at innovative carbon capture and utilisation companies such as Carbon Capture Machine and Carbon Engineering and the technologies they are using.
In chemistry, a salt or carbonic acid that contains carbonate ion is defined as a carbonate. Carbonation is the process of increasing carbonate or biocarbonate ions in water to create carbonated water (sparkling water).
In geology, the term ‘carbonate’ is used to describe carbonate minerals and carbonate rock. The most common form of carbonate rock is calcium carbonate. Limestone is primarily composed of calcium carbonate.
Uses for Carbonate
Since ancient times humans have found multiple practical uses for carbonates in everyday life. Carbonates, and sodium carbonate, in particular, have been used as inputs in the production of the following:
Carbon Capture Machine
Carbon Capture Machine (CCM) is a multidisciplinary team of academics, engineers, and industrialists led by Dr. Mohammed Salah-Eldin Imbabi at the University of Aberdeen. The University of Aberdeen in partnership with Graham Engineering (Canada), LaFargeHolcim (Switzerland) and Omya A.G. (Switzerland) has developed a technology that converts Co2 emissions captured from smoke stacks into solid carbonate. The carbonate is then used to make animal feedstocks. CCM have progressed to the semi-final stage of the NRG COSIA Xprize.
A Broadbent Institute report commissioned in October 2015 highlighted multiple benefits that can accrue from the technology by 2030, these include:
Carbon Engineering Ltd (CEL) with headquarters in Calgary, Canada have constructed a direct air capture pilot plant at the site of an old Nexen chemicals facility in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. Investors in this project include Bill Gates, Murray Edwards and Emissions Reduction Alberta. Carbon Engineering is a finalist in Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge.
The pilot plant sucks CO2 from the atmosphere, moves it through equipment where the CO2 is absorbed by a liquid solution and converted into calcium carbonate pellets. The solid carbonate is then heated at temperatures of between 800 and 900 degrees Celsius to allow the separation of the pure carbon. The plant can capture up to a tonne of CO2 per day. In an interview with CBC in October 2015, CEL’s CEO Adrian Corless emphasized the potential to expand this technology on a large scale basis as the equipment required already exists across other industries.
CEL’s next innovation will be to combine the pure carbon captured with hydrogen generated through clean sources to produce diesel and jet fuel.
The possibilities for the conversion of captured carbon into carbonates is great and is recognized by the shortlisting of CCM and CEL for prestigious awards. What is of great appeal is the scalability of this technology and the fact that this equipment is already in use in other industries.
Next week’s blog will profile Sweden and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
GEOGRAPHICAL SHARING OF GEOTHERMAL EXPERTISE
Blue Lagoon, Iceland - photo credit Smaus & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the nineteenth 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.
Although Iceland is not an EU member, their Paris Agreement targets match those of the EU, i.e. they plan to reduce their CO2 emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030. Iceland will also continue to take part in the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme.
Iceland is known for its geysers, hot springs, and volcanoes. In more recent years, the country has used this natural resource to its advantage and has harnessed a strong geothermal energy industry in tandem with its century old hydro-electricity industry.
Latest statistics from Orkustofnun, the national energy authority show that 99.9% of electricity generation in Iceland is sourced from hydro or geothermal. In fact, since 1920 on average 96% of Icelandic electricity has been generated from hydro or geothermal. Geothermal electricity generation is relatively new in Iceland. As recently as 1997, geothermal represented less than 10% of electricity generation sources, however the proportion has since risen steadily, now standing at 29% of overall electricity generation.
Geothermal energy occurs naturally when heat from the Earth’s crust warms underground water reservoirs and the steam formed through the heating process breaks through to the surface. In general, this occurs where tectonic plates have collided. Geysers are a well-known source of geothermal energy and are found close to volcanoes, for example in Yellowstone National Park and across Iceland, New Zealand and Chile.
In Iceland, the steam and water are separated at geothermal plants and the steam is then used to power turbines that generate electricity. This electricity is predominantly used to power Iceland’s heavy industry. The water is heated to 73 degrees Celsius and piped to homes and businesses across Iceland. Roughly 90% of Icelandic homes are heated with this water.
Iceland is happy to share its geothermal energy knowledge with the rest of the world and notably with researchers from developing nations in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations University has a geothermal training programme in Iceland where 500 scientists and engineers from around the world have learned geothermal skills and procedures with the intention of implementing geothermal energy initiatives in their home countries.
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
The CarbFix-SulFix project, an exciting Carbon Capture and Storage initiative has been in operation at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant in Southwestern Iceland since 2012. The plant is situated close to the Hengill Volcano. The project was developed in partnership with Reykjavik Energy, University of Iceland, the Earth Insitute at Columbia University, and the National Center for Research in France.
This project is considered a major breakthrough in CCUS innovation, as the CO2 that is pumped into the volcanic rock beneath the surface converts to carbonate minerals (limestone) within a two year period, a process that typically takes decades to occur. The longer CO2 takes to convert to rock under the earth’s surface, the higher the risk of leakage back into the atmosphere. Hence, the expedited rock-forming process that occurs in Iceland’s CarbFix-Sulfix project significantly reduces the risk of atmospheric leakage.
Eighty-five percent of Iceland’s energy production and practically all of their electricity generation come from renewable sources, making Iceland a true global leader in climate change. Iceland has sensibly utilised its wealth of natural resources such as water and geothermal energy. This not only benefits the environment but also, given the minimised need to import fossil fuels, has strengthened Iceland’s economy.
In sharing its expertise with scientists and engineers from developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe, Iceland is enabling these countries to implement eco-friendly practices and policies as their economies grow.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into carbonates.
Flying Finns Top Environmental Performance Index
Suomenlinna, Finland - photo credit marjattacajan and Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the eighteenth 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.
Having examined the role of algae cultivation in reducing CO2 emissions last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on Finland.
‘The Flying Finns’ was a nickname given to the Finnish middle and long-distance athletes who dominated the podium at Summer Olympics from the Stockholm games in 1912 right up to the Berlin games of 1936. Eighty years later, Finland ranks highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI). EPI was launched by the World Economic Forum and scores countries according to their performance in two main areas: environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These areas are subdivided into nine categories such as ‘climate & energy’, ‘air quality’, ‘water & sanitisation’ etc. which are further supported by 20 indicators.
Latest data from Statistics Finland show that electricity generated from renewables are at record levels. A total of 29.5 TWh of electricity or 45% of all generation is derived from renewables. The use of hard coal, natural gas and peat fell by 29%, 15%, and 5% respectively in 2014.
Paris Agreement Targets and Carbon Tax
In previous weeks I have outlined the Paris Agreement Targets for respective countries. These targets use 1990 CO2 emmission levels as the base year from which each individual country’s reduction targets are set. For example, Finland plans to reduce emissions by 20%, 40%, and 80% -95% compared with 1990 levels by 2020, 2030 and 2050 respectively. Interestingly, in 1990, Finland introduced carbon taxes and was the first country to ever do so. Hence, it could be argued that Finland was 26 years ahead of the times!
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
Over the course of a five-year period from 2011 – 2016, the Carbon Capture and Storage Programme (CCSP) was developed in Finland. This research endeavour involving 18 industry partners and nine research institutes has received €15 million in funding, and has produced over 90 technical reports, 84 publications, and 38 peer-reviews. Some interesting findings have been published to date including the following:
Finland takes its commitment to Paris Agreement and UN Sustainability Goals seriously, and in fact is so close to achieving its 2020 Paris Agreement targets that it is already turning its attention towards 2030 goals. Finland has a long history and deep experience of combined heat and power (CHP) generation from biomass, the World’s largest biomass plant is situated in Vaasa, Finland. Finland is eagerly awaiting EU updates to emissions trading regulation and are ready and waiting should biomass be included in any updates to emissions trading.
Next week’s blog will profile Iceland and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.