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.