US energy giant claims new gas-fired power plant at Grangemouth with combined C02-capture is viable

A new Scottish power study has concluded that a natural gas power plant with CO2 capture, using existing commercial technology, is both technically and financially feasible, and that it can be delivered in the early 2020s to ensure that the UK power grid remains stable as unabated fossil fuels are phased out and renewable energy projects increase.

The Caledonia Clean Energy Project could capture and geologically sequester up to three million tonnes of CO2 per year while providing up to 1,300 megawatts (MW) of firm capacity to the power grid.

The Caledonia Clean Energy Project (CCEP) would be located near Grangemouth on the Firth of Forth in Scotland.

Additionally, the CCEP power plant design can now also be deployed anywhere in the world as a valuable new project type.

Captured CO2 would be transported via largely existing onshore and offshore pipelines, previously used to transport natural gas, to a deep and secure geological storage site thousands of metres below the North Sea.

The two year study was carried out by Summit Power’s Stephen Kerr, Summit Caledonia Project Director, who said, “It’s clear there can’t be any more unabated gas in the UK if we hope to meet climate targets.

“It’s also clear that we need the flexibility and resilience that the Caledonia plant offers and which can be delivered at a much lower cost than previously thought possible.

“The existing pipeline system that can transport CO2 to the North Sea gives Scotland a tremendous cost advantage. It’s important that we seize this opportunity whilst the pipelines still exist.”

The now-closed Longannet coal-fired power station, near Grangemouth.
The now-closed Longannet coal-fired power station, near Grangemouth.

The Caledonia Clean Energy Project would also provide other services such as voltage and frequency support, and so-called “black start” capability for the entire Scottish grid in the event of a system-wide blackout – a pressing requirement following the closure of several coal power plants in Scotland.

A real breakthrough is that CCEP will be able to ramp its power output up and down while still efficiently capturing its CO2 emissions. Previously, CO2 capture from natural gas plants was considered to require steady state operation. Ramping CCEP’s power output, whilst also providing resilience, means the power grid will be able to handle more renewable energy from intermittent sources such as onshore and offshore wind and solar projects.

The Feasibility Report examines additional options for CCEP as well. One potential opportunity at the Scottish site is to add on a promising new type of natural gas plant with CO2 capture using the Allam Cycle, developed by Net Power.

The Feasibility Report also highlights a realistic opportunity to develop a low carbon cluster around Grangemouth, combining the low carbon CCEP power plant as an “anchor” tenant with industrial CO2 capture from Scotland’s major emitters in the area.

Other industrial emitters of CO2 along the east coast could also capture their CO2 as a pipeline network evolves. Nearly 80% percent of Scotland’s industrial CO2 emission sources are close to the main pipeline that would transport CO2 away from CCEP.

Development of a CO2 transport and storage network will also enable clean hydrogen production in the longer term for heat and transport fuel.

Kerr  – who is based in Edinburgh – added: “The next step is for UK policymakers and industry to work together to prepare a CCUS Deployment Pathway before the end of 2018.

“Like other UK power projects, CCEP will ultimately be financed with non-governmental debt and equity investment on the strength of a Contract for Difference (“CfD”), which will determine the price CCEP ultimately receives for its power.”

CCEP is the only Scottish CCS project seeking a CfD.

The Summit Power Group LLC is based in Seattle, USA.

New Scottish study shows C02 storage is a very secure climate mitigation tool

Meanwhile, more new research shows that captured carbon dioxide can be stored safely for thousands of years by injecting the liquefied gas deep underground into the microscopic pore spaces of common rocks. 

The findings – published in Nature Communications today – increase confidence in the widespread roll-out of engineered carbon capture and storage.

In the study, researchers from SCCS’s partner institutes, the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, compiled a worldwide database of information from natural carbon dioxide and methane accumulations and hydrocarbon industry experience – including engineered gas storage, decades of borehole injection, and laboratory experiments. 

Computer simulations were used to combine all these factors and model storage of carbon dioxide for 10,000 years into the future. Previous research in this area had not fully accounted for the natural trapping of carbon dioxide in rock as microscopic bubbles, or the dissolving of carbon dioxide into the salty water already in the rocks.    

The UN Paris agreement has committed the world to limiting climate warming to well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. This requires huge reductions in the amount of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, which is released to the atmosphere from industry, electricity generation, heating and transport. 

Capturing these emissions and ensuring that carbon dioxide can be safely trapped underground is crucial for the successful protection of the atmosphere.

Dr Juan Alcalde, who co-led the research at the University of Aberdeen said: “The security of carbon dioxide storage is an understandable concern for people, communities and governments. Our work shows that the storage of carbon dioxide necessary to help address climate change can be secure for many thousands of years.”

Dr Stephanie Flude who co-led the work at the University of Edinburgh said: “We selected the model inputs to be conservative but realistic. Importantly, our computer simulations, based on good-regulation practices, such as those used currently in the North Sea, retained more than 90% of the injected carbon dioxide after 10,000 years in 95% of the cases. The most probable outcome being at least 98% retention.”

13 Jun 2018

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