Lowest electricity generation-driven emissions in 10 years
Barcelona, Spain - Photo credit, kirkandmimi & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty-fifth 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.
Spain ranks sixth highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), this is the second time in a row that Spain places in the top 10 having been outside the top 30 in 2012. As part of its Paris Agreement pledge, Spain has agreed to cut its emissions by 26% by 2030.
According to ‘The Spanish Electricity System 2016’ report, the electricity generation mix between renewable and non-renewable sources was 41/59. This is a big shift in a short space of time, as recently as 2007 renewable energy accounted for 21% of total electricity generation in Spain. Within the renewable segment for 2016, wind and hydro represented 47% and 36% of the overall renewable figure respectively with solar energy sources (9%) accounting for virtually all of the remainder. A combination of increased generation from hydro and a reduction in coal-fueled generation resulted in the lowest level of CO2 emissions from electricity generation in 10 years.
The Spanish government established a CCS research institute called Fundación Ciudad de la Energía (CIUDEN) in 2006. CIUDEN partners with researchers from eight other European countries as part of ECCSEL, an EU Horizon 2020 funded research consortium. ECCSEL’s mission is “…opening access for researchers to a top quality European research infrastructure devoted to second and third generation CCS technologies in an efficient and structured way to help enabling low to zero CO2 emissions from industry and power generation to combat global climate change”.
Two CIUDEN facilities have been selected to be part of the ECCSEL’s research infrastructure:
The Centre for CO2 Capture in Cubillos del Sil, León is located in Northwestern Spain. It is a pre-commercial scale capture, transportation and storage site of 100,000 square metres in area. Its fuel preparation system can take and test anthracite (hard coal), bituminous coal (black, high volatile content), sub-bituminous coal (intermediate coal), lignite (soft coal), petroleum coke(oil byproduct), biomass and a blend of these fuel types.
The centre has two boilers: pulverised coal (20 MWh) and circulating fluidised coal bed (30 MWh) making it unique. For the biomass, there is a 3 MWh gasifier. The two boilers have different combustion technologies, they can run on air or a mixture of recycled gases and pure oxygen. The next stage is a flue gas cleaning system where the concentration of polluting particles is reduced in compliance with environmental regulation. The next step is to remove any remaining particles ahead of transportation and storage. Transporation is also tested on site ahead of transportation.
The Hontomín CO2 Storage Technology Development Plant is situated in Northern Spain, about 30km North of Burgos and 130km Southwest of Bilbao. The project is ongoing and will have the capacity to store 100,000 tonnes of CO2 1,600 metre below the surface in a carbonate reservoir. The reservoir is dome shaped with cracks and fractures which make it more suitable for experimentation than other underground reservoirs. As with other CO2 storage sites, constant monitoring will be required to ensure the carbon is safely stored there.
Spain has made great strides towards increasing electricity generation from renewable sources over the past decade. The country is also investing in CCUS research and collaborating well with other European countries in that regard. As highlighted in previous weeks of this blog, with the exception of Germany, France, and Sweden the rest of the EU member states are in danger of missing their Paris Agreement targets. Like many of its European peers, Spain will have to be mindful of meeting short-term target as it looks further down the line.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into bauxite.
Fossil fuel dependency falling and replaced by rising renewables
Ljubljana, Slovenia - Photo credit, Traveldudes & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty-fourth 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 injecting carbon into concrete is playing in the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on Slovenia. Slovenia ranks fifth highest under Yale University’s latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
Paris Agreement Targets
Slovenia has pledged to cut its GhG emissions by 15% of 1990 levels by 2030. GhG emissions have fallen steadily from 22,000 Gg of CO2 equivalent in 2008 to 17,000 Gg in 2014. The country also puts carbon taxes on the combustion of fossil fuels and incineration since 1996. In fact, the share of environmental taxes as a percentage of the total tax intake in Slovenia was the 4th highest in the EU 2011.
Energy Supply and electricity production
According to Invest Slovenia statistics for 2014, nuclear energy was the primary source of energy supply representing 44% of the overall figure. Solid fuels, renewables, and hydro were the next highest sources of energy supply with 22%, 17% and 14% of the total figure respectively. The renewables portion of this pie has grown by 6% over the last decade with the goal that 25% of energy supply will derive from renewable sources by 2020.
Almost 80% of electricity produced in Slovenia in 2014 was generated at hyro/ renewable plants (33%) or nuclear plants (45%). One fifth of electricity was produced at fossil fuel plants during this time. From an eco-friendly point of view, this is positive news, however, nuclear fuel comes with its own risks.
The National Institute of Chemistry Slovenia is one of eight partners in MefCO2, a carbon capture and utilisation initiative funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
MetCO2 are working to develop green methanol fuel from CO2 emissions extracted at cement plants, blast furnaces, power stations or any other CO2 emitting facility. MetCO2 estimate that they will be able to convert 1.5 tonnes or CO2 into 1,000 kg of methanol per day. The project is in stage one (engineering & permitting) and it is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2018.
Slovenia’s CO2 emissions reduction over the last 10 years or so is commendable and their commitment to CCUS research is good to see. The EU’s climate leaderboard ranks Slovenia 16th out of 28 countries and cites its reluctance to increase its emissions target above a 15% domestic target by 2030 as a reason for this. All is not lost though, the Slovenian Parliament recommends that their proposal is strengthened. It will be interesting to see how Slovenia responds to this and whether or not existing targets will be stretched further. What is clear though is Slovenia’s overall sustainability performance is strong as evidenced by EPI ranking.
Next week’s blog will profile Spain and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
Upcycling CO2 and waste into greener concrete
Concrete bricks - Photo credit, Pexels & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty third 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 take a look at how advances in carbon capture and utilization technologies are being exploited to convert carbon into concrete. I will also feature companies such as Carbon Cure, Carbon Upcycling UCLA and Carbicrete, all NRG COSIA Xprize semi-finalists, and how they are utilizing captured carbon in the concrete industry.
Converting Carbon into Concrete
The process of converting carbon into concrete is known as concrete curing. CO2 flue gas that will otherwise go to waste and pollute the environment is instead used to cure precast concrete. The CO2 is permanently stored within the concrete as unreactive limestone, increasing the quality of the concrete and making it more durable.
Precast concrete is where concrete is molded into shape off-site, transported to the construction site and slotted into place. A good example of precast concrete is staircases built for suburban housing units.
Carbon Cure is headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. The problem their technology is solving is how to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete produced.
Their technology is retrofitted into the existing processes in place at the concrete plants. CO2 captured from large industrial emitters such as oil refineries is purified and liquified before being transported to the concrete plant. The CO2 is then injected into the wet concrete during the mixing stage of the production process. The CO2 is permanently converted into a solid mineral. The concrete produced is of a higher quality and greener for the environment and thus helps solve the problem of reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete industry.
Carbon Upcycling UCLA
Carbon Upcycling ULCA (CUU) is a collaborative CCUS initiative involving scientists, engineers, and economists at the famous Californian University.
Upcycling is the process of transforming byproducts or material waste into new materials. CUU use flue gas extracted from smoke stacks and converts it into ‘CO2NCRETE’. CUU also use 3D printing technology to shape their precast concrete in whatever shape is required.
Next steps for CUU is to develop the technology further at a lab scale and increase the volume of the material produced.
Carbicrete is located in Montreal, Canada. Carbicrete is a cement-free, carbon-negative concrete solution. Typically, concrete is made with portland cement and the significance of this is that cement based concrete production accounts for roughly 5% of global CO2 emissions.
With Carbicrete’s technology, the concrete is made with steel slag, a glass like byproduct in steel production that is usually sent to landfill. Like, Carbon Cure, the CO2 is injected into the wet concrete during a process called carbon activation. Because cement is not used in the production of the concrete and CO2 is sequestered in the concrete, the final product is carbon-negative.
The concrete industry is an established and important one in any functioning economy around the world. That is why it is so important from an environmental perspective that exciting companies such as Carbon Cure, Carbon Upcycling UCLA and Carbicrete answer the call to find ways of reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. We look forward to finding out how these companies and others continue to innovate and help solve the growing CO2 emissions challenge.
Next week’s blog will profile Slovenia and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
Ding Dong, by 2050 Danish CO2 emissions will be gone
København, Denmark - Photo credit, Witizia & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty second 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.
Denmark ranks fourth highest in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and this is the 4th time in a row that the country has climbed the biennial index following a ranking low of 26th place in 2008.
Paris Agreement Targets
Similarly to Sweden, as part of Denmark’s Paris Agreement commitment, the country has pledged to completely phase out Co2 emissions by 2050. Denmark is one of a handful of nations who have already reduced their CO2 emissions from energy combustion below 1990 levels.
On a visit to Copenhagen in 2010, I saw firsthand the city’s strong cycling culture. The city has almost 400km of cycle paths and about 40% of its residents commute to work by bike. It is easy to see why so many commuters use a bicycle as their mode of transport, the width of cycle paths are equivalent to that of a standard traffic lane for automated vehicles and the cycle paths are standalone from the roads used by automated vehicles, thus making cycling a safe way of travelling to and from work.
In 2000, electricity produced from wind turbines accounted for 1/8th of Denmark’s overall figure with the remaining 7/8th sourced from power stations and industrial producers. The intervening 16 years have seen a significant shift in the energy production mix with wind turbines now the source for 44% of Denmark’s electricity production following a three fold increase in wind turbine electricity production. Another interesting point to note is that solar energy now accounts for 2.6% of total electricity production, this is from a base of virtually no solar energy production in 2012.
Dong Energy (Danish Oil & Natural Gas), who traditionally were a fossil-fuel powered energy utility is now the world’s largest offshore wind farm company. In the last 10 years, its proportion of investment in wind farms has risen from 16% in 2006 to 75% in 2015. Dong will sell off its remaining Oil and Gas assets by the end of the year. Dong will cease using coal at its power stations by 2023 and replace it with wood.
Dong is also investing in the ‘world’s first full-scale enzyme-based waste treatment plant’ in Northwich, UK. The technology is called Renescience and it separates household waste from recycles at treatment facilities and generates energy at the same time.
Transitioning to zero waste is big news in Denmark. According to the latest Eurostat statistics for municipal waste, Denmark generated 789 kg of waste per capita in 2015, the highest in the EU and well above the EU-27 average of 476 kg per capita. Positive steps are being taken to address this such as a 25% reduction in food waste over a five year period to 2016. Denmark’s first food surplus supermarket called Wefood was opened in 2016, with stock selling for 30 – 50% below recommended retail prices. Bo Welfare, a social housing project purchases fruit and vegetables with damaged packaging or close to its sell by date from supermarkets and resells it at reduced prices at their pop up shops. Initiatives like those introduced by Wefood and Bo Welfare have helped with the reduction in food waste.
Denmark’s target to be CO2 emissions free by 2050 is ambitious. However, it is encouraging to see that CO2 emissions are already below 1990 levels. The cycling culture has helped reduced transport emissions. The shift towards wind turbines is greatly reducing the dependence on fossil fuels as a means for energy generation. Converting waste to energy will further bolster the drive towards zero emissions by 2050.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into concrete.