Pipe - Photo Credit - hpgruesen & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the fiftieth 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.
Over the past year, this blog has predominantly focused on the efforts individual countries are making to reduce their CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and how CCUS research and technologies have supported this. We also looked at various ways carbon can be used to enhance other processes from accelerating the cultivation of algae to enhancing geothermal energy.
This week’s blog will look at how advances in technology are being used by large industrial companies to sequester (isolate or hide away) carbon.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word sequester as to ‘isolate or hide away’. Carbon sequestration is defined as ‘ the action of chemically sequestering a substance’. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the permanent storage of carbon in the ground up to 2km beneath the surface in rock formations.
In Canada there are four large-scale CCS projects in operation: Shell Quest, SaskPower’s Boundary Dam, Cenovus Apache’s Weyburn-Midale and Enhance Energy’s Alberta Carbon Trunk Line. Further afield China Resources Power has an integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration facility.
When I featured Canada in this blog, I briefly touched on the Shell Quest and Cenovus Weyburn-Midale CCS facilities. I was fortunate enough to visit Shell Quest’s plant in Scotford Alberta, an hour North of Edmonton, as part of a CCUS field trip in February 2017.
As you can expect from a large organisation such as Shell, the facility is impressive and the staff spoke with great passion about what they had achieved to date. A big highlight of the Quest project for them was their ability to complete construction of the project at 20% below the pre-construction budget. In its first two years in operation, the facility has stored 2 million tonnes of carbon.
Alberta Carbon Trunk Line
The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line operated by Enhance Energy is “ the World’s largest carbon capture and storage project”. Carbon is captured by Enhance Energy at North West Redwater Partnership Sturgeon refinery and Agrium’s fertiliser plant and transported to Enhance Energy’s existing oilfield in Clive, Alberta where is it used to enhance oil recovery.
The North West Redwater Partnership is located about one hour north of Edmonton. I visited the refinery in Sturgeon last year, shortly after it was opened, it was the first refinery to be built in Alberta in about 30 years. It has impressive facilities to receive large visiting groups and employs about 400 staff.
At the Clive facility, the carbon is injected 2 km underground to enhance the recovery of the oil from rock seams and permanently store the carbon in its place. Any CO2 that is recovered with the oil is separated at the surface and injected back into the ground with the CO2 coming from North West Redwater and thus ensuring a closed looped process preventing the escape of CO2 into the atmosphere. At present, about 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 are being injected into the Clive site per annum. The site will be able to manage up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year at full capacity.
The CO2 will be monitored on an ongoing basis by Enhance Energy to ensure its safe storage underground.
Calgary headquartered Cenovus Energy has a CCS plant in Weyburn-Midale on the North Dakota border in South Eastern Saskatchewan. Cenovus has injected 30 million tonnes of CO2 underground since 2000 or on average about 1.5million tonnes per annum.
SaskPower’s Boundary Dam plant was first mentioned when China was featured in this blog. Boundary Dam is also situated in South Eastern Saskatchewan in a place called Estevan, which is about 50 km south of the Weyburn-Midale plant.
Boundary Dam is an integrated carbon capture and storage demonstration project and the largest project of its kind in the world. It is a coal-fuelled power station and is reducing CO2 emissions by 1 million tonnes per annum. Boundary Dam receives delegations from China on almost a weekly basis, and the knowledge gained from these trips should assist China with the reduction of CO2 emissions from its over-reliance on coal-fuelled power stations as a source of energy.
Integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration
China Resources Power has deployed an integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration facility at the Haifeng power plant in the Guandong province of South Eastern China. It is expected that this site will be able to store up to 1 million tonnes of CO2 p.a. when operational in the next 3 – 5 years.
Countries dependent on fossil fuels to both drive and fuel their economies are taking the opportunities that Carbon sequestration presents to them seriously. Canada is a leader in this area with four-large scale facilities and China is also investing in this space. Five CCS projects alone can capture between 5 million and 18.5 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. That is the equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of up to 4 million cars. Projects of this magnitude can help significantly reduce the impact to the environment caused by large industrial companies in the energy, concrete and fertiliser industries.
Next week’s blog and future blogs will see a change from the existing format and subject matter content. From week 51 onwards I will write about sustainability starting with the UN Sustainability Development Goals.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 49 Italy: Long-legged Italy back heeled some CO2 into Federico II
Week 48 Belgium: Umicore centrally placed to take advantage of the drive towards electric vehicles
Week 47 Enhanced Coal Bed Methane: Fire ice can help store carbon and power SpaceX's rocket engines