Countries have been slow to embrace the costly plants
A demonstration power plant is about to fire up in Tianjin to create syngas, while the UK has relaunched a carbon-capture-and-storage plant competition
With many of the world’s nations dragging their feet on cleaning up fossil-fuel emissions, even slow progress stands out. This spring, China’s state-owned Huaneng Group plans to fire up the first phase of its flagship clean-coal demonstration project, moving the country one step closer to capturing and storing the carbon it emits. Despite being more than a year behind schedule, the GreenGen coal gasification plant in Tianjin puts China at the forefront of global efforts to exploit coal resources without releasing carbon dioxide.
In 2008, leaders of the G8 group of nations called for the development of 20 large-scale projects demonstrating technologies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) by 2010, but countries have been slow to embrace the costly plants. Delays and cancellations have affected all but a handful of high-profile initiatives in Europe, the United States and Australia, whereas China, despite delays of its own, is still pushing forward to develop indigenous technologies.
“GreenGen represents both a high degree of technical sophistication and a real commitment on China’s part to clean-energy technology,” says Julio Friedmann, head of the carbon-management program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. “There can be no doubt that China has achieved something remarkable.”
Originally estimated to cost US$1.5 billion, GreenGen is being developed by a consortium of Chinese companies, including Huaneng, together with Peabody Energy of St Louis, Missouri. The first phase is a 250-megawatt integrated gasification combined-cycle power plant, which will convert coal into `syngas’ — a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen — to be burned in specialized turbines to produce electricity. Waste carbon dioxide from these processes can be separated more easily than in conventional coal-fired power plants.
Huaneng has already begun work on a second phase — a smaller pilot plant that will send a clean stream of hydrogen through fuel cells and turbines to produce electricity, with carbon dioxide being captured for industrial use. The third phase, scheduled for 2015-20, will be a 400-megawatt power plant with full-scale carbon capture and storage in underground rock layers. That represents a substantial delay beyond the original completion date of 2015. Huaneng officials say that they revised the schedule in response to technical issues and delays to CCS projects in other nations.
via Scientific American – Nature ᔥ
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