how china is tackling co2 emissions from its coal-fueled power plants
Forbidden City, Beijing, China, photo credit to Beautiful Free Stock Photos (CC0).
You are very welcome to the 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 will be paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisationa Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
This week it is the turn of China who signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016, ratified it on the 3rd of September that year, with it coming into force on the 4th of November 2016.
According to the most up-to-date information provided to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in December 2015, China was the highest emitting nation of Co2 into the atmosphere in 2014 with almost 30% of overall emissions. This can be explained in the main by China’s over-reliance on coal as a source of energy. China is the largest user of coal globally with roughly 50% of overall demand. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) market analysis and forecasts to 2021 do not see this changing dramatically in the short to medium term.
In recent years, interested Chinese groups have been frequent visitors to SaskPower’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) coal plant at Boundary Dam, Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada. The plant captures roughly 400,000 tonnes of Co2 per annum.
In an interview with the Financial Times in 2015, Mike Monea, President of CCS initiatives at SaskPower was quoted as saying that Chinese delegations visit the Boundary Dam site “every two or three weeks” to learn more about how Co2 is captured and stored at the coal facility.
In 2009, China and the US, the two largest emitters of Co2, joined forces to create the US–China Clean Energy Center (CERC). The purpose of this partnership is for the US and China to work together in order to advance research and development in the area of clean technologies. On the Chinese side, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and China National Energy Administration (NEA) lead CERC. Their combined research efforts focus on five main areas:
1. Advanced coal technology;
2. Building energy efficiency;
3. Clean vehicles;
4. Water and energy technology;
5. Medium and heavy-duty trucks.
The last two areas above were added as part of CERC Phase II that extended this initiative by a further five years from 2016 to 2020. Phase II is funded by both public and private finance of at least $250m with both countries sharing the investment cost evenly.
In 2014, the Global CCS Institute published an article on its website called “Notable CCS projects in China” The article featured five CCS projects in China. In 2008, the first pilot plant became operational with an annual capacity of 3,000 tonnes at the Huaneng Gaobeidian coal-fired Plant in Beijing; the Co2 produced being used in the carbonated drinks industry.
Following on from that, a second coal-fired plant with a capacity of 100,000 – 120,000 tonnes per annum was constructed at Shanghai Shidongkou. The Co2 captured at the Shanghai Shidongkou plant is also used in the carbonated drinks industry. Other CCS projects in China include a coal liquefaction plant in Inner Mongolia developed by China’s largest coal producer the Shenghua group, and post-combustion captures projects at the Shengli Oil Field Company and the Zhongyuan Oil Field Company, both of which are subsidiaries of Sinopec, the state-owned oil, and petrochemical concern.
So, to date, China has made a great start in becoming a greener economy, but to decrease its carbon emissions over the next five years in line with the Paris Agreement, China will need to continue to find innovative ways of reducing emissions coming from its numerous coal plants.