CO2CRC is Australia’s leading carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCS) research organisation
CO2CRC INSIGHTS | MARCH 2020
  • NEWS: IEA warns we must not forget the ‘inescapable challenge’ of reducing emissions despite coronavirus

  • POLICY: Angus Taylor outlines government’s technology investment roadmap

  • INVESTMENT: BP enters non-binding agreement supporting Santos’ CCS project

  • POLICY: CO2CRC brings industry together in effort to drive investment in CCS

  • INVESTMENT: BP puts more money into CCS

  • POLICY: US issues tax guidance for CCUS projects

  • CO2CRC NEWS: Santos joins CO2CRC as member

  • TRANSITION: IEA calls for more public-private collaboration in CCS

  • FEATURE: CO2CRC carbon capture technology development
NEWS: IEA warns we must not forget the 'inescapable challenge' of reducing emissions despite coronavirus

Tackling global emissions must not be compromised by efforts to respond to the coronavirus emergency, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

In a LinkedIn article on 14 March IEA executive director, Fatih Birol, argued that the pandemic’s impact “Although they may be severe, the effects are likely to be temporary. Meanwhile, the threat posed by climate change, which requires us to  reduce global emissions significantly this decade , will remain.”

He says that as governments are drawing up stimulus plans to counter economic damage from the coronavirus, they should consider the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future.

“Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies – such as solar, wind, hydrogen, batteries and  carbon capture (CCUS)  – should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions.

“Hydrogen and carbon capture are in need of major investment to scale them up and bring down costs,” said Mr Birol.
POLICY: Angus Taylor outlines government’s technology investment roadmap

Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, spoke about the technology investment roadmap at a CEDA event held in Sydney last month. 

The minister named carbon capture and storage as one of the technologies the government would evaluate, prioritise and understand how to progress to full commerciality and deployment as quickly as possible.    

The roadmap is the government’s long-term emissions reduction strategy. Once released it will provide guidance to the public and private-sector on what future energy and emissions-reduction technologies the government will prioritise.

“The world needs to go through rapid technology development and adoption if we are to achieve substantial and ongoing reduction of emissions on a global scale,” Minister Taylor said.    

The minister said it was important that while the federal government had an important leadership role - particularly in stimulating R and D and the early deployment of emerging economic clean technologies – the private sector needed to be front and centre in driving the changes.

“For every dollar we invest, we want to see four or five dollars from the private sector and other levels of government following over the course of our investments,” he said.

Minister Taylor said the roadmap also has “an economic goal for technologies to get them to a point of parity where they can be deployed without economic disruption.” 
INVESTMENT: BP enters non-binding agreement supporting Santos’ CCS project

Santos and BP have entered into an in-principle agreement that could lead to BP investing A$20 million in support of Santos’s Moomba carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in South Australia.

This non-binding agreement is subject to finalisation of terms and a final investment decision targeted for the end of 2020.

Santos has entered front end engineering design (FEED) for the Moomba CCS project.
The project proposes to capture the 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide currently separated from natural gas at the Moomba gas processing plant each year and reinject it deep underground for permanent storage.

Santos head, Kevin Gallagher, said the in-principle agreement is a big vote of confidence in Santos’ proposal to capture and store carbon dioxide from the Moomba plant. It also creates opportunities for CCS-related knowledge sharing from BP’s global operations.
POLICY: CO2CRC brings industry together in effort to drive investment in CCS

The first CO2CRC CCS Policy Forum was held on 4 March at Parliament House in Canberra. 

The forum aims to work with industry and other stakeholders to formulate policy settings and a regulatory framework which will accelerate the development and deployment of CCS technology in Australia. Members of the forum include senior representatives from Santos, BHP, Chevron, COAL21, Eni, ExxonMobil, J-Power, Shell and Woodside. 

“Australia could be a world leader in CCS and is already home to the world’s largest commercial-scale CO 2 injection project at the Gorgon LNG facility on Barrow Island,” said the forum’s chair and Santos head, Kevin Gallagher.
INVESTMENT: BP puts more money into CCS

Oil major BP is ramping up its investment in carbon capture and storage.

The move coincides with the appointment of new CEO Bernard Looney, who took the reins of the company in February. Looney was previously head of the company’s upstream business.

Looney said “We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner. To deliver that, trillions of dollars will need to be invested in re-plumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system. It will require nothing short of reimagining energy as we know it.”

BP’s current focus is a potential zero-carbon cluster at Teesside in the north east of England. The Net Zero Teesside project is a full chain CCUS project being developed by jointly by BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total, who are all members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI).

The project aims to decarbonise a cluster of carbon-intensive industries, and capture around six million tonnes of carbon annually. This is the equivalent to the annual energy use of up to two million homes in the UK. The captured CO 2 will be permanently stored beneath the North Sea.

The UK Government recently outlined a UKP 800 million carbon capture and storage fund to establish CCS clusters in at least two UK sites.
POLICY: US issues tax guidance for CCUS projects

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finally issued tax guidance for CCS projects in the US ( Notice 2020-12 and  Revenue Procedure 2020-12), potentially unlocking billions of dollars in investment in projects. The lack of guidance was a major hindrance to companies seeking to take advantage of the tax breaks given to CCS projects in the United States.

The section 45Q tax credit incentivises CCS by allowing a tax credit per metric ton of captured CO 2 at facilities where construction starts before 2024. The size of the credit varies from $10 to $50 per metric ton of captured CO 2 depending on the technology and the date the equipment is placed in service.

As issued, the guidance clarifies when a project qualifies as ‘beginning construction’ and how the IRS will view partnership. The IRS anticipates issuing further guidance in the near future, including on secure geological storage, utilization and recapture of the credit.
CO2CRC NEWS: Santos joins CO2CRC as member

CO2CRC has welcomed Santos as its latest member company to collaborate on CCS research and deployment.

CO2CRC CEO David Byers said he is delighted to have a strong Australian gas industry leader join the organisation and both organisations will look to progress suitable policy settings and a regulatory framework to accelerate the development and deployment of CCS technology in Australia.

Santos is stepping up its focus on CCS and by the end of the year will make a final investment decision on its CCS operation in South Australia’s Cooper Basin. The project will take advantage of depleted gas reservoirs and a proven natural rock seal at the site to store CO 2.
TRANSITION: IEA calls for more public-private collaboration in CCS

The International Energy Agency has called on the world’s oil and gas companies to invest more in technological solutions for reducing emissions, particularly CCS.

The organisation held an 80-person workshop in Paris last month on the role that carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) needs to play in global energy in the future. The workshop comprised senior government officials, industry representatives, researchers and NGOs.

Participants discussed the value of shared transport and storage infrastructure for CO 2 , the importance of CCUS for hard-to-mitigate emissions, and the role of carbon removal in energy transition.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol stated, “When we consider the scale of the energy and climate challenge, the critical importance of carbon capture is inescapable.”

The workshop comes directly after a new report by the IEA on energy transition, which calls for greater investment.

The report states, “The resources and skills of the [oil and gas] industry can play a central role in helping to tackle emissions from some of the hardest-to-abate sectors. This includes the development of carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS), low-carbon hydrogen, biofuels, and offshore wind… the industry accounts for more than one-third of overall spending on CCUS projects. If the industry can partner with governments and other stakeholders to create viable business models for large-scale investment, this could provide a major boost to deployment.”
FEATURE: CO2CRC carbon capture technology development
Membrane Gas-Solvent Contactor Pilot Plant Trials

Background

CO2CRC researchers have completed trials of a new membrane contactor process which has potential for much more efficient carbon capture in a post-combustion flue gas stream. The trials, which were conducted at Vales Point power station in NSW, demonstrate benefits for post combustion capture technologies including the potential for significantly reduced equipment size and lower energy demand.
 
Membrane gas-solvent contractors are a hybrid technology in which traditional solvent absorption occurs within a membrane module. The technology involves the transfer of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from the flue gas through a membrane, where it is chemically absorbed into the solvent. This takes advantage of solvent technology’s high absorption capacity for CO 2 , while the membrane acts to physically separate the solvent and gas phases which minimises solvent degradation and foaming. 

While previous studies focussed on the individual efficiency of the absorption and regeneration steps, this study represents the world’s first demonstration of membrane contactor technology in a continuous process. Both the absorption and regeneration stages were tested simultaneously for an extended period of time using a flue gas stream from the power plant.

The research objectives were to:

a) demonstrate that the process enables more CO 2 to be quickly transferred into the solvent phase requiring significantly reduced equipment sizes when compared with conventional CO 2 absorption systems; and

b) show that the membrane contactor reduces the energy demand of the solvent regeneration process by enabling separation of CO 2 from the solvent to occur without a solvent phase change, and hence achieve regeneration conditions at a lower temperature than conventional regenerators .

Several commercially available membrane contactor modules with PP (Polypropylene), PDMS (Poly dimethylsiloxane) and LDPE (Low-density polyethylene) based membranes were tested. 

Conclusions

The development of the hybrid membrane contactor represents a new approach in carbon capture that has clear advantages in terms of energy penalty and footprint, compared to conventional solvent based technology. The pilot plant was able to successfully capture CO 2 from the flue gas stream and undertake subsequent solvent regeneration. The pilot plant campaigns were able to identify the best suited membrane modules able to provide sustained performance for both CO 2 absorption and solvent regeneration, proving that separation of CO 2 from the solvent in the regeneration stage could occur without a bulk solvent phase change. This results in lower heating duties and energy demand for the process compared to conventional regenerators.

Critically, the trials have demonstrated the potential for membrane contactors to be deployed to address carbon emissions from power stations and other industrial sources.

The CO2CRC membrane-solvent contactor project was funded by the Coal Innovation NSW (CINSW) — Department of Planning, Industry and Environment of the NSW State Government. The research was undertaken by researchers from The University of Melbourne and CO2CRC. We acknowledge the support of Delta Electricity of Sunset Power International and CSIRO in facilitating the pilot plant implementation and operation at Vales Point Power Station.

For more information on this project, refer to the following papers:

  • Scholes, C. A.; Qader, A.; Stevens, G. W.; Kentish, S. E., Membrane gas-solvent contactor trials of CO2 absorption from flue gas. Sep. Sci. Technol. 2014, 49, 2449-2458
  • C. A. Scholes, S. E. Kentish, G. W. Stevens, D. deMontigny, Asymmetric composite PDMS membrane contactors for desorption of CO2 from monoethanolamine, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (2016) 55: 195-201
  • Scholes, C. A.; Kentish, S. E, Qader, A., Membrane Gas-Solvent Contactor pilot plant trials for postcombustion CO2 capture, submitted for publication, Industrial and engineering Chemistry Research, 2019
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